The Eastern and Western Nambicuara were divided into eight groups with a chief for each. The chief's authority was limited to matters such as assigning band members to build huts or to hunt and conducting religious rites if the band had no shaman. Chieftanship is not hereditary—a chief selects his successor, usually someone who is an especially able member of the band, such as a successful hunter. The names for the Eastern groups lend support for the presence of territorial bands. The bands were never unified under a single chief, however, and interband relations were based mainly on trade, intermarriage, and joint rituals.
Conflict. In the past the Nambicuara had a reputation for being extremely aggressive, with frequent wars against neighboring groups as well as much interband conflict.