Koya - Sociopolitical Organization



Social Organization. The elements of Koya social Organization are the family, the village, the phratry, and the lineage. Koya society is basically egalitarian, especially in the hill Villages where there are few differences of rank and status other than those of age and personal reputation.

Political Organization. Although Koyas speak of themselves as a distinct group, no overall political organization holds them together. Traditionally they have had regional governing bodies consisting of the council of twenty-five Villages under the authority of a headman and his assistant. The council's main functions were to oversee revenue collection and to try intervillage disputes.

Social Control. Social control is effected through the Family, the lineage elders, and the village council. The council tries all cases involving villagers with the exception of murder or crimes against the state. Disputes over land inheritance, Divorce, wife stealing, and payment of bride-price comprise the majority of cases. The council hears evidence, questions Witnesses, and imposes fines on those whom it finds guilty.

Conflict. Apart from the village disputes noted above, most conflict today involves Hindus who encroach on Koya lands or use unfair practices in their dealings with Koyas. These cases are referred to the Indian judiciary and are almost always decided against Koyas.


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