Mataco - Sociopolitical Organization



Social Organization. All Mataco, men and women, young and old, are supposed to be equal; all share the right of free speech and partake in all activities. Nevertheless, eloquence (only acquired with age) is crucial; therefore elders, and often old men, enjoy a special status.

Political Organization. Formerly, each wikyi' was an autonomous political entity, guided by the community council and represented by the niyat , the spokesman. The council, which was constituted of all the adults of the group, handled all kinds of political, judicial, and legal issues. Today, the village council fulfills these roles.

Social Control. Within the family or the community, open face-to-face conflict, as well as gossip, slander, ostracism, and social withdrawal are, and have been, important forms of social control. Taboos and fear of supernatural powers cannot be disregarded, however. Between wikyi' and extended families severe crimes, like homicide, were settled through negotiations or blood revenge.

Conflict. There are no means of external intervention in internal familial controversies. Disputes between families often evolve into open clashes, necessitating the intervention of the village council. In these fights or scuffles, women, more often than men, are the protagonists. In bygone days, clashes between wikyi' could result in armed aggression, but such tension was often prevented by recurrent games of hockey.

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