November 16 , 2011
EXAM Question: the average size hunting territory is 1200 square miles, range
in size between 200 miles, to 2000 miles.
Political Organizations: Historically, 500 years ago when Europe went
exploring, Europeans occupied the countries that they “discovered”, and they
claimed right to those countries on the basis of the fact that they believed that
the people that lived in those countries had no right to the land, because they
had no political organization. All societies have political organizations, its just
the ways those groups organize themselves differs. Political organizations refer
to the ways a society organize themselves to maintain social harmony, and to
minimize disharmony. How we deal outside it.
There are four types of political organizations, lumped under two big categories:
Characteristics of a Band:
the oldest and least complex form of political organization is the
“band”, bands consist of small groups of people who are related by
kinship who occupy a defying territory and whose social structure is
based upon egalitarian relationships.
Egalitarian: People of an equal age and sex, have equal access to
Bands lack a formal seat of authority/office of formal authority.
Bands have no formal office leader or chief or anything like that.
Anthropologists cite, that there is a “headman”; headman is a “leader”
by virtue of generally speaking, being the oldest active male. Probably
someone in his 40’s- or could be in his 70’s -but least likely.
Headman is also leader by virtue of his personal qualities: good hunter,
level headed, good orator, intimate knowledge of his environment,
however the headman does not have any coercive authority
Rather, as leader, he is first among equals Primus interpares.
Consensus, people will decide as a group, what will be done over an
issue, the headman, is perhaps more persuasive, but he will not say thou shall do, and shall do it.
Bands make decisions jointly, typical hunting societies, these bands
occupy a territory that is recognized as belonging “to that particular band
by virtue of the fact that the headman’s ancestors, have hunted and used
and occupied that land”
These bands, are economically and politically autonomous, which
means they provide for themselves, they make decision on their own, this
doesn’t mean they never come into contact with other bands,
Example: in the case of the Cree- for 50 weeks of year, people
live and hunt and gather together but for 2 weeks of year they come
together at a common meeting place where other bands convene and
there the for the reason of “fishing”, but in reality, people convene in
order to find spouses.
Summary: Bands are characterized by egalitarianism, no formal office
leader, consensus building, small populations, and up until 10,000 years
ago we were all living in bands. They tend to work quite well.
Characteristics of a Tribe:
Tribes are like bands, but they have larger populations. In most cases,
tribes are not hunters, the plains were an exception.
Tribes have social mechanisms that have ability to link disparate units
into a larger entity. Tribes have clans, generally,
Tribes also have other mechanisms that can integrate units, this is
called “Pan-Tribal Sodalities” They are social intuitions that serve to…
Example: I.e. Iroquois nations around Quebec border, there are
number of Iroquois communities, because one person belongs to
turtle clan and she visits other clans, she is welcome.
Iroquois universe is linked by their clan system- kinship.
In tribal societies, they have other institutions that are called various
names- one of which is “Age grades”; this means Organizations through
which people must pass. I
Example:. Blackfoot, among them they have age grades, found
throughout much of the world, even in Africa and North America (Plains
People). Age grades are not voluntary, in case of Blackfoot; the oldest age
grade is called the “buffalo bulls”, why? On the plains the most powerful
and magnificent creatures in the plains are the adult bison. On the plains,
there are age grades, and there are also volunteer associations that
compromise warriors, With age grades come responsibilities, there are
expectations and obligations, and this is what Custer did not know, the
Lakota, and Soo- all of these various bands which they had age grades,
and they deterred his actions.