“Endogamy is the cultural practice of mating within a specific social group, religious denomination, caste, or ethnic group, rejecting any from outside of the group or belief structure as unsuitable for marriage or other close personal relationships. Its opposite, exogamy, describes the social norm of marriage outside of the group. Endogamy is common in many cultures and ethnic groups. Several religious and ethnic religious groups are traditionally more endogamous, although sometimes mating outside of the group occurs with the added dimension of requiring marital religious conversion. This permits an exogamous marriage, as the convert, by accepting the partner’s religion, becomes accepted within the endogamous group. Endogamy, as distinct from consanguinity, may result in transmission of genetic disorders, the so-called founder effect, within the relatively closed community.” ref

“Endogamy can encourage sectarianism and serves as a form of self-segregation. For instance, a community resists integration or completely merging with the surrounding population. Minorities can use it to stay ethnically homogeneous over a long time as distinct communities within societies that have other practices and beliefs. Endogamic marriage patterns may increase the frequency of various levels of cousin marriage in a population, and may cause high probability of children of first, second, third cousins, etcetera. If a cousin marriage has accrued in a known ancestral tree of a person, in historical time, it is referred to as pedigree collapse. A long term pattern of endogamy in a region may increase the risk of repeated cousin marriage during a long period of time, referred to as inbreeding. It may cause additional noise in the DNA autosomal data, giving the impressions that DNA matches with roots in that region are more closely related than they are.” ref

“High rates of ethnic endogamy may not be driven by ethnic preferences per se, but by preferences for other characteristics that are correlated with ethnicity. For example, given the large role played by family in the rituals and practices of many religions, it may not be surprising that religious homogamy rates are quite high. Preferences for a spouse with the same religion can ultimately result in high rates of ethnic endogamy given the strong relationship between ethnicity and religion. It may be challenging, for example, for a Hindu spouse-searcher to find a non-Indian Hindu.” ref

“It is difficult to analyze the role of religion in interethnic marriage decisions because of the lack of information on religion in most nationally representative surveys in the US. However, the percentage of the country of origin that is, Christian has been found to decrease endogamy among childhood arriving immigrants and the native-born children of immigrants in the US. Using data from Sweden, Dribe and Lundh provide evidence that several cultural factors, including religion, play a role in explaining endogamy rates.” ref

“While religious homogamy is generally decreasing, assortative matching on education has increased since the 1960s. Given the importance of matching on education and the variation in average schooling levels across ethnic groups, individuals with education levels that are typical within their ethnic group may end up marrying endogamously simply because it is relatively easy to meet a coethnic with a similar level education. On the other hand, ethnics with education levels that deviate from the norm within their ethnicity are likely to find it more difficult to find a same-ethnicity and same-education spouse and so compromises must be made.” ref

“Several studies have found that the closer a person’s own education is to his ethnic group’s average, the more likely he is to marry endogamously. Furtado and Furtado and Theodoropoulos show that an increase in schooling leads to a decrease in the probability of marriage within ethnicity for people in low-education groups but an increase for those in education ethnicities. Consistent with this evidence, Kalmijn shows that education increases out-marriage most in low-education groups and least in high-education groups. Interestingly, he never finds that education increases endogamy, not even in the most highly educated groups. He hypothesizes that, as discussed above, education tends to decrease in-group preferences so that while the highly educated members of high-education groups have access to same-education, same-ethnicity spouses, they may not value ethnic endogamy to the same degree as those with less education.” ref

“Schooling may also affect marriage patterns via the preferences of marriage-market participants who do not identify with any particular ethnic background. For example, it may be that, as predicted by exchange theory, people are only willing to marry ethnic minorities, especially those with strong ethnic attachments, if they are compensated in the form of a spouse’s higher education. It may also be that ultimate marriage patterns are driven by the majority population’s perceptions of ethnic minorities, perceptions that are likely to be influenced by average schooling levels of the ethnic group. Kalmijn finds that, conditional on a person’s own education, belonging to a group with a higher average education is associated with an increase in the likelihood of out-marriage. He interprets this result as evidence of the importance of natives’ perceptions of a person’s ethnic group.” ref

Bands, Tribes, Chiefdoms

“Another means of identifying the boundaries between modern and traditional societies was the categorization of the differences between the manner of their social organization and their driving mechanism. Based on the multi-criteria approach the American Elman Service was the first anthropologist to define the division of society into four groups, while his typology also reflected its evolutionary aspect. The division into bands, tribes, chieftain units, and states is still in current use today, though not without certain reservations. Critics point in particular to the problems that are associated with attempts to apply a typology that was created in relation to recent pre-industrial populations to societies that are identified only in historical or archaeological sources.” ref

“Smaller groups of hunter-gatherers are referred to as bands. In general, their members were related either by blood or by marriage. The bands lacked any formal chieftains, nor were there any striking differences in regard to the ownership of property or of social status between the members. The fact that the bands were both quite small and mobile was also reflected in the size and structure of their settlements. Modern examples of bands of this nature are the Bushmen of southern Africa and the Hadza in Tanzania.ref

“According to Elman Service, generally the tribes were more significant than the bands, but only rarely did the number of their members attain several thousand people. Their diet usually comprised domestic resources. They were both sedentarised farmers and migrant herders. The tribe comprised a collection of individual communities (families, villages, etc.) that were mutually linked by family ties, either real or declared (i.e. claimed). Tribes usually lacked both official representatives and a “Capital City” because there was no need for an economic base in order to create power structures. The settlements took the form of homesteads or of villages. According to Service, this grouping was supposed to represent some sort of transitional form, somewhere between a band and a chiefdom.ref

“As social organizations, chiefdoms were made up of several branches of various kinship groups or conical clans. Their members were internally differentiated in them on the basis of their kinship with a real or a mythological ancestor who was viewed as being the founder. The political representative of a society of this nature was a chieftain who inherited his position from within a specific defined circle of relatives. Prestige and status in the society were derived from how close the relationship between the individual and the chieftain was. This was also reflected in the funeral rites. The centralization of power was manifested primarily in the area of spiritual ceremonies and rituals. The authority of the chieftain largely coincided with his priestly functions. Another feature, therefore, was also the existence of a permanent sacred place.  It must be admitted that there could be a large number of chieftain systems with different mechanisms of functioning that could co-exist. Historical traces of this can be found on the northwest coast of North America, for example.ref

“The last category is that of the early states. They gave rise to a complexity that characterizes the more intricate social formations. Though the early states retained a number of the features of the chieftain groups, unlike them, these were societies of a non-relational type (i.e., status was acquired based on qualities, not on origin) stratified into different social classes. This gave rise to an elite that included officials, soldiers, and priests. The top level of this imaginary pyramid was occupied by the King. He had explicitly been given the power to implement laws and to enforce them, even by violent means. The institution of donation also ended in the early stages and was replaced by the levying of taxes.ref

“Usually, the early states were small in terms of the size of their territory, often consisting of a single dominant city together with its economic hinterland. Because the state-building process was also regionally contagious, so to speak, several states coexisted in the area more or less on a regular basis. Inevitably, together, they formed an interactive network that dynamically transformed its goals from peacekeeping to war. The King had become the King of Kings by conquering the neighboring rulers, and inevitably, his empires ceased to meet the requisite criteria for being an early stage.ref

“All cultures have one element in common: they somehow exercise social control over their own members. Like the “invisible hand” of the market to which Adam Smith refers in analyzing the workings of capitalism, two forces govern the workings of politics: power—the ability to induce behavior of others in specified ways by means of coercion or use or threat of physical force—and authority—the ability to induce behavior of others by persuasion. Extreme examples of the exercise of power are the gulags (prison camps) in Stalinist Russia, the death camps in Nazi-ruled Germany and Eastern Europe, and so-called Supermax prisons such as Pelican Bay in California and the prison for “enemy combatants” in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by the United States. In all of these settings, prisoners comply or are punished or executed. At the other extreme are most forager societies, which typically exercise authority more often than power. Groups in those societies comply with the wishes of their most persuasive members.” ref

“In actuality, power and authority are points on a continuum, and both are present in every society to some degree. Even Hitler, who exercised absolute power in many ways, had to hold the Nuremberg rallies to generate popular support for his regime and persuade the German population that his leadership was the way to national salvation. In the Soviet Union, leaders had a great deal of coercive and physical power but still felt the need to hold parades and mass rallies on May Day every year to persuade people to remain attached to their vision of a communal society. At the other end of the political spectrum, societies that tend to use persuasion through authority also have some forms of coercive power. Among the Inuit, for example, individuals who flagrantly violated group norms could be punished, including by homicide.” ref

A related concept in both politics and law is legitimacy: the perception that an individual has a valid right to leadership. Legitimacy is particularly applicable to complex societies that require centralized decision-making. Historically, the right to rule has been based on various principles. In agricultural states such as ancient Mesopotamia, the Aztec, and the Inca, justification for the rule of particular individuals was based on hereditary succession and typically granted to the eldest son of the ruler. Even this principle could be uncertain at times, as was the case when the Inca emperor Atahualpa had just defeated his rival and brother Huascar when the Spaniards arrived in Peru in 1533.ref

“In many cases, supernatural beliefs were invoked to establish legitimacy and justify rule by an elite. Incan emperors derived their right to rule from the Sun God and Aztec rulers from Huitzilopochtli (Hummingbird-to-the-Left). European monarchs invoked a divine right to rule that was reinforced by the Church of England in Britain and by the Roman Catholic Church in other countries prior to the Reformation. In India, the dominance of the Brahmin elite over the other castes is justified by karma, cumulative forces created by good and evil deeds in past lives. Secular equivalents also serve to justify rule by elites; examples include the promise of a worker’s paradise in the former Soviet Union and racial purity of Aryans in Nazi Germany. In the United States and other democratic forms of government, legitimacy rests on the consent of the governed in periodic elections (though in the United States, the incoming president is sworn in using a Christian Bible despite the alleged separation of church and state).ref

“In some societies, dominance by an individual or group is viewed as unacceptable. Christopher Boehm (1999) developed the concept of reverse dominance to describe societies in which people rejected attempts by any individual to exercise power. They achieved this aim using ridicule, criticism, disobedience, and strong disapproval and could banish extreme offenders. Richard Lee encountered this phenomenon when he presented the !Kung with whom he had worked over the preceding year with a fattened ox. Rather than praising or thanking him, his hosts ridiculed the beast as scrawny, ill fed, and probably sick. This behavior is consistent with reverse dominance.ref

“Even in societies that emphasize equality between people, decisions still have to be made. Sometimes, particularly persuasive figures such as headmen make them, but persuasive figures who lack formal power are not free to make decisions without coming to a consensus with their fellows. To reach such a consensus, there must be general agreement. Essentially, then, even if in a backhanded way, legitimacy characterizes societies that lack institutionalized leadership. Another set of concepts refers to the reinforcements or consequences for compliance with the directives and laws of a society. Positive reinforcements are the rewards for compliance; examples include medals, financial incentives, and other forms of public recognition. Negative reinforcements punish noncompliance through fines, imprisonment, and death sentences. These reinforcements can be identified in every human society, even among foragers or others who have no written system of law. Reverse dominance is one form of negative reinforcement.ref

“If cultures of various sizes and configurations are to be compared, there must be some common basis for defining political organization. In many small communities, the family functions as a political unit. As Julian Steward wrote about the Shoshone, a Native American group in the Nevada basin, “all features of the relatively simple culture were integrated and functioned on a family level. The family was the reproductive, economic, educational, political, and religious unit.” In larger more complex societies, however, the functions of the family are taken over by larger social institutions. The resources of the economy, for example, are managed by authority figures outside the family who demand taxes or other tribute. The educational function of the family may be taken over by schools constituted under the authority of a government, and the authority structure in the family is likely to be subsumed under the greater power of the state. Therefore, anthropologists need methods for assessing political organizations that can be applied to many different kinds of communities. This concept is called levels of socio-cultural integration.ref

“Elman Service developed an influential scheme for categorizing the political character of societies that recognized four levels of socio-cultural integration: band, tribe, chiefdom, and state. A band is the smallest unit of political organization, consisting of only a few families and no formal leadership positions. Tribes have larger populations but are organized around family ties and have fluid or shifting systems of temporary leadership. Chiefdoms are large political units in which the chief, who usually is determined by heredity, holds a formal position of power. States are the most complex form of political organization and are characterized by a central government that has a monopoly over legitimate uses of physical force, a sizeable bureaucracy, a system of formal laws, and a standing military force.ref

“Each type of political integration can be further categorized as egalitarian, ranked, or stratified. Band societies and tribal societies generally are considered egalitarian—there is no great difference in status or power between individuals and there are as many valued status positions in the societies as there are persons able to fill them. Chiefdoms are ranked societies; there are substantial differences in the wealth and social status of individuals based on how closely related they are to the chief. In ranked societies, there are a limited number of positions of power or status, and only a few can occupy them. State societies are stratified. There are large differences in the wealth, status, and power of individuals based on unequal access to resources and positions of power. Socio-economic classes, for instance, are forms of stratification in many state societies.ref

In a complex society, it may seem that social classes—differences in wealth and status—are, like death and taxes, inevitable: that one is born into wealth, poverty, or somewhere in between and has no say in the matter, at least at the start of life, and that social class is an involuntary position in society. However, is social class universal? As they say, let’s look at the record, in this case, ethnographies. We find that among foragers, there is no advantage to hoarding food; in most climates, it will rot before one’s eyes. Nor is there much personal property, and leadership, where it exists, is informal. In forager societies, the basic ingredients for social class do not exist. Foragers such as the !Kung, Inuit, and aboriginal Australians, are egalitarian societies in which there are few differences between members in wealth, status, and power. Highly skilled and less skilled hunters do not belong to different strata in the way that the captains of industry do from you and me. The less skilled hunters in egalitarian societies receive a share of the meat and have the right to be heard on important decisions. Egalitarian societies also lack a government or centralized leadership. Their leaders, known as headmen or big men, emerge by consensus of the group. Foraging societies are always egalitarian, but so are many societies that practice horticulture or pastoralism. In terms of political organization, egalitarian societies can be either bands or tribes.” ref


“Societies organized as a band typically comprise foragers who rely on hunting and gathering and are therefore nomadic, are few in number (rarely exceeding 100 persons), and form small groups consisting of a few families and a shifting population. Bands lack formal leadership. Richard Lee went so far as to say that the Dobe! Kung had no leaders. To quote one of his informants, “Of course, we have headmen. Each one of us is headman over himself.” At most, a band’s leader is primus inter pares or “first among equals” assuming anyone is first at all. Modesty is a valued trait; arrogance and competitiveness are not acceptable in societies characterized by reverse dominance. What leadership there is in band societies tends to be transient and subject to shifting circumstances. For example, among the Paiute in North America, “rabbit bosses” coordinated rabbit drives during the hunting season but played no leadership role otherwise. Some “leaders” are excellent mediators who are called on when individuals are involved in disputes, while others are perceived as skilled shamans or future-seers who are consulted periodically. There are no formal offices or rules of succession.ref

“Bands were probably the first political unit to come into existence outside the family itself. There is some debate in anthropology about how the earliest bands were organized. Elman Service argued that patrilocal bands organized around groups of related men served as the prototype, reasoning that groups centered on male family relationships made sense because male cooperation was essential to hunting. M. Kay Martin and Barbara Voorhies pointed out in rebuttal that gathering vegetable foods, which typically was viewed as women’s work, actually contributed a greater number of calories in most cultures and thus that matrilocal bands organized around groups of related women would be closer to the norm..Indeed, in societies in which hunting is the primary source of food, such as the Inuit, women tend to be subordinate to men while men and women tend to have roughly equal status in societies that mainly gather plants for food.ref

Law in Band Societies

“Within bands of people, disputes are typically resolved informally. There are no formal mediators or any organizational equivalent of a court of law. A good mediator may emerge—or may not. In some cultures, duels are employed. Among the Inuit, for example, disputants engage in a duel using songs in which, drum in hand, they chant insults at each other before an audience. The audience selects the better chanter and thereby the winner in the dispute. The Mbuti of the African Congo use ridicule; even children berate adults for laziness, quarreling, or selfishness. If ridicule fails, the Mbuti elders evaluate the dispute carefully, determine the cause, and, in extreme cases, walk to the center of the camp and criticize the individuals by name, using humor to soften their criticism—the group, after all, must get along.ref

Warfare in Band Societies

“Nevertheless, conflict does sometimes break out into war between bands and, sometimes, within them. Such warfare is usually sporadic and short-lived since bands do not have formal leadership structures or enough warriors to sustain conflict for long. Most of the conflict arises from interpersonal arguments. Among the Tiwi of Australia, for example, failure of one band to reciprocate another band’s wife-giving with one of its own female relative led to abduction of women by the aggrieved band, precipitating a “war” that involved some spear-throwing (many did not shoot straight and even some of the onlookers were wounded) but mostly violent talk and verbal abuse. For the Dobe !Kung, Lee found 22 cases of homicide by males and other periodic episodes of violence, mostly in disputes over women—not quite the gentle souls Elizabeth Marshall Thomas depicted in her Harmless People.ref


“Whereas bands involve small populations without structure, tribal societies involve at least two well-defined groups linked together in some way and range in population from about 100 to as many as 5,000 people. Though their social institutions can be fairly complex, there are no centralized political structures or offices in the strict sense of those terms. There may be headmen, but there are no rules of succession, and sons do not necessarily succeed their fathers as is the case with chiefdoms. Tribal leadership roles are open to anyone—in practice, usually men, especially elder men who acquire leadership positions because of their personal abilities and qualities. Leaders in tribes do not have a means of coercing others or formal powers associated with their positions. Instead, they must persuade others to take actions they feel are needed. A Yanomami headsman, for instance, said that he would never issue an order unless he knew it would be obeyed. The headman Kaobawä exercised influence by example and by making suggestions and warning of consequences of taking or not taking an action.ref

“Like bands, tribes are egalitarian societies. Some individuals in a tribe do sometimes accumulate personal property but not to the extent that other tribe members are deprived. And every (almost always male) person has the opportunity to become a headman or leader and, like bands, one’s leadership position can be situational. One man may be a good mediator, another an exemplary warrior, and a third capable of leading a hunt or finding a more ideal area for cultivation or grazing herds. An example illustrating this kind of leadership is the big man of New Guinea; the term is derived from the languages of New Guinean tribes (literally meaning “man of influence”). The big man is one who has acquired followers by doing favors they cannot possibly repay, such as settling their debts or providing bride-wealth. He might also acquire as many wives as possible to create alliances with his wives’ families. His wives could work to care for as many pigs as possible, for example, and in due course, he could sponsor a pig feast that would serve to put more tribe members in his debt and shame his rivals. It is worth noting that the followers, incapable of repaying the Big Man’s gifts, stand metaphorically as beggars to him.ref

“Still, a big man does not have the power of a monarch. His role is not hereditary. His son must demonstrate his worth and acquire his own following—he must become a big man in his own right. Furthermore, there usually are other big men in the village who are his potential rivals. Another man who proves himself capable of acquiring a following can displace the existing big man. The big man also has no power to coerce—no army or police force. He cannot prevent a follower from joining another big man, nor can he force the follower to pay any debt owed. There is no New Guinean equivalent of a U.S. marshal. Therefore, he can have his way only by diplomacy and persuasion—which do not always work.ref

Tribal Systems of Social Integration

Tribal societies have much larger populations than bands and thus must have mechanisms for creating and maintaining connections between tribe members. The family ties that unite members of a band are not sufficient to maintain solidarity and cohesion in the larger population of a tribe. Some of the systems that knit tribes together are based on family (kin) relationships, including various kinds of marriage and family lineage systems, but there are also ways to foster tribal solidarity outside of family arrangements through systems that unite members of a tribe by age or gender.ref

Integration through Age Grades and Age Sets

Tribes use various systems to encourage solidarity or feelings of connectedness between people who are not related by family ties. These systems, sometimes known as sodalities, unite people across family groups. In one sense, all societies are divided into age categories. In the U.S. educational system, for instance, children are matched to grades in school according to their age—six-year-olds in first grade and thirteen-year-olds in eighth grade. Other cultures, however, have established complex age-based social structures. Many pastoralists in East Africa, for example, have age grades and age sets. Age sets are named categories to which men of a certain age are assigned at birth. Age grades are groups of men who are close to one another in age and share similar duties or responsibilities. All men cycle through each age grade over the course of their lifetimes. As the age sets advance, the men assume the duties associated with each age grade.ref

“An example of this kind of tribal society is the Tiriki of Kenya. From birth to about fifteen years of age, boys become members of one of seven named age sets. When the last boy is recruited, that age set closes, and a new one opens. For example, young and adult males who belonged to the “Juma” age set in 1939 became warriors by 1954. The “Mayima” were already warriors in 1939 and became elder warriors during that period. In precolonial times, men of the warrior age grade defended the herds of the Tiriki and conducted raids on other tribes while the elder warriors acquired cattle and houses and took on wives. There were recurring reports of husbands who were much older than their wives, who had married early in life, often as young as fifteen or sixteen. As solid citizens of the Tiriki, the elder warriors also handled decision-making functions of the tribe as a whole; their legislation affected the entire village while also representing their own kin groups. The other age sets also moved up through age grades in the fifteen-year period.ref

“The elder warriors in 1939, “Nyonje,” became the judicial elders by 1954. Their function was to resolve disputes that arose between individuals, families, and kin groups, of which some elders were a part. The “Jiminigayi,” judicial elders in 1939, became ritual elders in 1954, handling supernatural functions that involved the entire Tiriki community. During this period, the open age set was “Kabalach.” Its prior members had all grown old or died by 1939 and new boys joined it between 1939 and 1954. Thus, the Tiriki age sets moved in continuous 105-year cycles. This age grade and age set system encourages bonds between men of similar ages. Their loyalty to their families is tempered by their responsibilities to their fellows of the same age.ref

“Among most, if not all, tribes of New Guinea, the existence of men’s houses serves to cut across family lineage groups in a village. Perhaps the most fastidious case of male association in New Guinea is the bachelor association of the Mae-Enga, who live in the northern highlands. In their culture, a boy becomes conscious of the distance between males and females before he leaves home at age five to live in the men’s house. Women are regarded as potentially unclean, and strict codes that minimize male-female relations are enforced. Sanggai festivals reinforce this division. During the festival, every youth of age 15 or 16 goes into seclusion in the forest and observes additional restrictions, such as avoiding pigs (which are cared for by women) and avoiding gazing at the ground lest he see female footprints or pig feces. One can see, therefore, that every boy commits his loyalty to the men’s house early in life even though he remains a member of his birth family. Men’s houses are the center of male activities. There, they draw up strategies for warfare, conduct ritual activities involving magic and honoring of ancestral spirits, and plan and rehearse periodic pig feasts.” ref

“Exchanges and the informal obligations associated with them are primary devices by which bands and tribes maintain a degree of order and forestall armed conflict, which was viewed as the “state of nature” for tribal societies by Locke and Hobbes, in the absence of exercises of force by police or an army. Marcel Mauss, nephew and student of eminent French sociologist Emile Durkheim, attempted in 1925 to explain gift giving and its attendant obligations cross-culturally in his book, The Gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies. He started with the assumption that two groups have an imperative to establish a relationship of some kind. There are three options when they meet for the first time. They could pass each other by and never see each other again. They may resort to arms with an uncertain outcome. One could wipe the other out or, more likely, win at great cost of men and property or fight to a draw. The third option is to “come to terms” with each other by establishing a more or less permanent relationship. Exchanging gifts is one way for groups to establish this relationship.” ref

“These gift exchanges are quite different from Western ideas about gifts. In societies that lack a central government, formal law enforcement powers, and collection agents, the gift exchanges are obligatory and have the force of law in the absence of law. Mauss referred to them as “total prestations.” Though no Dun and Bradstreet agents would come to collect, the potential for conflict that could break out at any time reinforced the obligations. According to Mauss, the first obligation is to give; it must be met if a group is to extend social ties to others. The second obligation is to receive; refusal of a gift constitutes rejection of the offer of friendship as well. Conflicts can arise from the perceived insult of a rejected offer. The third obligation is to repay. One who fails to make a gift in return will be seen as in debt—in essence, a beggar. Mauss offered several ethnographic cases that illustrated these obligations. Every gift conferred power to the giver, expressed by the Polynesian terms mana (an intangible supernatural force) and hau (among the Maori, the “spirit of the gift,” which must be returned to its owner). Marriage and its associated obligations also can be viewed as a form of gift-giving as one family “gives” a bride or groom to the other.ref

“Understanding social solidarity in tribal societies requires knowledge of family structures, which are also known as kinship systems. The romantic view of marriage in today’s mass media is largely a product of Hollywood movies and romance novels from mass-market publishers such as Harlequin. In most cultures around the world, marriage is largely a device that links two families together; this is why arranged marriage is so common from a cross-cultural perspective. And, as Voltaire admonished, if we are to discuss anything, we need to define our terms. Marriage is defined in numerous ways, usually (but not always) involving a tie between a woman and a man. Same-sex marriage is also common in many cultures. Nuclear families consist of parents and their children. Extended families consist of three generations or more of relatives connected by marriage and descent.ref

“Bilateral descent (commonly used in the United States) recognizes both the mother’s and the father’s “sides” of the family while unilineal descent recognizes only one sex-based “side” of the family. Unilineal descent can be patrilineal, recognizing only relatives through a line of male ancestors, or matrilineal, recognizing only relatives through a line of female ancestors. Groups made up of two or more extended families can be connected as larger groups linked by kinship ties. A lineage consists of individuals who can trace or demonstrate their descent through a line of males or females to the founding ancestor. Most tribal societies’ political organizations involve marriage, which is a logical vehicle for creating alliances between groups. One of the most well-documented types of marriage alliance is bilateral cross-cousin marriage in which a man marries his cross-cousin—one he is related to through two links, his father’s sister and his mother’s brother.” ref

“These marriages have been documented among the Yanomami, an indigenous group living in Venezuela and Brazil. Yanomami villages are typically populated by two or more extended family groups also known as lineages. Disputes and disagreements are bound to occur, and these tensions can potentially escalate to open conflict or even physical violence. Bilateral cross-cousin marriage provides a means of linking lineage groups together over time through the exchange of brides. Because cross-cousin marriage links people together by both marriage and blood ties (kinship), these unions can reduce tension between the groups or at least provide an incentive for members of rival lineages to work together.” ref

“Another type of kin-based integrative mechanism is a segmentary lineage. As previously noted, a lineage is a group of people who can trace or demonstrate their descent from a founding ancestor through a line of males or a line of females. A segmentary lineage is a hierarchy of lineages that contains both close and relatively distant family members. At the base are several minimal lineages whose members trace their descent from their founder back two or three generations. At the top is the founder of all of the lineages, and two or more maximal lineages can derive from the founder’s lineage. Between the maximal and the minimal lineages are several intermediate lineages.” ref 

“The classic examples of segmentary lineages were described by E. E. Evans-Pritchard (1940) in his discussion of the Nuer, pastoralists who lived in southern Sudan. Paul Bohannan also described this system among the Tiv, who were West African pastoralists, and Robert Murphy and Leonard Kasdan analyzed the importance of these lineages among the Bedouin of the Middle East. Segmentary lineages often develop in environments in which a tribal society is surrounded by several other tribal societies. Hostility between the tribes induces their members to retain ties with their kin and to mobilize them when external conflicts arise. An example of this is ties maintained between the Nuer and the Dinka. Once a conflict is over, segmentary lineages typically dissolve into their constituent units. Another attribute of segmentary lineages is local genealogical segmentation, meaning close lineages dwell near each other, providing a physical reminder of their genealogy.” ref

Law in Tribal Societies

“Tribal societies generally lack systems of codified law whereby damages, crimes, remedies, and punishments are specified. Only state-level political systems can determine, usually by writing formal laws, which behaviors are permissible and which are not (discussed later in this chapter). In tribes, there are no systems of law enforcement whereby an agency such as the police, the sheriff, or an army can enforce laws enacted by an appropriate authority. And, as already noted, headman and big men cannot force their will on others.ref

In tribal societies, as in all societies, conflicts arise between individuals. Sometimes the issues are equivalent to crimes—taking of property or commitment of violence—that are not considered legitimate in a given society. Other issues are civil disagreements—questions of ownership, damage to property, an accidental death. In tribal societies, the aim is not so much to determine guilt or innocence or to assign criminal or civil responsibility as it is to resolve conflict, which can be accomplished in various ways. The parties might choose to avoid each other. Bands, tribes, and kin groups often move away from each other geographically, which is much easier for them to do than for people living in complex societies.ref

One issue in tribal societies, as in all societies, is guilt or innocence. When no one witnesses an offense or an account is deemed unreliable, tribal societies sometimes rely on the supernatural. Oaths, for example, involve calling on a deity to bear witness to the truth of what one says; the oath given in court is a holdover from this practice. An ordeal is used to determine guilt or innocence by submitting the accused to dangerous, painful, or risky tests believed to be controlled by supernatural forces. The poison oracle used by the Azande of the Sudan and the Congo is an ordeal based on their belief that most misfortunes are induced by witchcraft (in this case, witchcraft refers to ill feeling of one person toward another). A chicken is force fed a strychnine concoction known as benge just as the name of the suspect is called out. If the chicken dies, the suspect is deemed guilty and is punished or goes through reconciliation.ref

“A more commonly exercised option is to find ways to resolve the dispute. In small groups, an unresolved question can quickly escalate to violence and disrupt the group. The first step is often negotiation; the parties attempt to resolve the conflict by direct discussion in hope of arriving at an agreement. Offenders sometimes make a ritual apology, particularly if they are sensitive to community opinion. In Fiji, for example, offenders make ceremonial apologies called i soro, one of the meanings of which is “I surrender.” An intermediary speaks, offers a token gift to the offended party, and asks for forgiveness, and the request is rarely rejected.ref

“When negotiation or a ritual apology fails, often the next step is to recruit a third party to mediate a settlement as there is no official who has the power to enforce a settlement. A classic example in the anthropological literature is the Leopard Skin Chief among the Nuer, who is identified by a leopard skin wrap around his shoulders. He is not a chief but is a mediator. The position is hereditary, has religious overtones, and is responsible for the social well-being of the tribal segment. He typically is called on for serious matters such as murder. The culprit immediately goes to the residence of the Leopard Skin Chief, who cuts the culprit’s arm until blood flows. If the culprit fears vengeance by the dead man’s family, he remains at the residence, which is considered a sanctuary, and the Leopard Skin Chief then acts as a go-between for the families of the perpetrator and the dead man.ref

“The Leopard Skin Chief cannot force the parties to settle and cannot enforce any settlement they reach. The source of his influence is the desire for the parties to avoid a feud that could escalate into an ever-widening conflict involving kin descended from different ancestors. He urges the aggrieved family to accept compensation, usually in the form of cattle. When such an agreement is reached, the chief collects the 40 to 50 head of cattle and takes them to the dead man’s home, where he performs various sacrifices of cleansing and atonement. This discussion demonstrates the preference most tribal societies have for mediation given the potentially serious consequences of a long-term feud. Even in societies organized as states, mediation is often preferred. In the agrarian town of Talea, Mexico, for example, even serious crimes are mediated in the interest of preserving a degree of local harmony. The national authorities often tolerate local settlements if they maintain the peace.ref

Warfare in Tribal Societies

“What happens if mediation fails and the Leopard Skin Chief cannot convince the aggrieved clan to accept cattle in place of their loved one? War. In tribal societies, wars vary in cause, intensity, and duration, but they tend to be less deadly than those run by states because of tribes’ relatively small populations and limited technologies. Tribes engage in warfare more often than bands, both internally and externally. Among pastoralists, both successful and attempted thefts of cattle frequently spark conflict. Among pre-state societies, pastoralists have a reputation for being the most prone to warfare.ref

“However, horticulturalists also engage in warfare, as the film Dead Birds, which describes warfare among the highland Dani of west New Guinea (Irian Jaya), attests. Among anthropologists, there is a “protein debate” regarding causes of warfare. Marvin Harris in a 1974 study of the Yanomami claimed that warfare arose there because of a protein deficiency associated with a scarcity of game, and Kenneth Good supported that thesis in finding that the game a Yanomami villager brought in barely supported the village. He could not link this variable to warfare, however. In rebuttal, Napoleon Chagnon linked warfare among the Yanomami with abduction of women rather than disagreements over hunting territory, and findings from other cultures have tended to agree with Chagnon’s theory.ref

“Tribal wars vary in duration. Raids are short-term uses of physical force that are organized and planned to achieve a limited objective such as acquisition of cattle (pastoralists) or other forms of wealth and, often, abduction of women, usually from neighboring communities. Feuds are longer in duration and represent a state of recurring hostilities between families, lineages, or other kin groups. In a feud, the responsibility to avenge rests with the entire group, and the murder of any kin member is considered appropriate because the kin group as a whole is considered responsible for the transgression. Among the Dani, for example, vengeance is an obligation; spirits are said to dog the victim’s clan until its members murder someone from the perpetrator’s clan.ref


“Unlike egalitarian societies, ranked societies (sometimes called “rank societies”) involve greater differentiation between individuals and the kin groups to which they belong. These differences can be, and often are, inherited, but there are no significant restrictions in these societies on access to basic resources. All individuals can meet their basic needs. The most important differences between people of different ranks are based on sumptuary rulesnorms that permit persons of higher rank to enjoy greater social status by wearing distinctive clothing, jewelry, and/or decorations denied those of lower rank. Every family group or lineage in the community is ranked in a hierarchy of prestige and power. Furthermore, within families, siblings are ranked by birth order, and villages can also be ranked.ref

“The concept of a ranked society leads us directly to the characteristics of chiefdoms. Unlike the position of headman in a band, the position of chief is an office—a permanent political status that demands a successor when the current chief dies. There are, therefore, two concepts of chief: the man (women rarely, if ever, occupy these posts) and the office. Thus the expression “The king is dead, long live the king.” With the New Guinean big man, there is no formal succession. Other big men will be recognized and eventually take the place of one who dies, but there is no rule stipulating that his eldest son or any son must succeed him. For chiefs, there must be a successor, and there are rules of succession.ref

“Political chiefdoms usually are accompanied by an economic exchange system known as redistribution in which goods and services flow from the population at large to the central authority represented by the chief. It then becomes the task of the chief to return the flow of goods in another form. The chapter on economics provides additional information about redistribution economies. These political and economic principles are exemplified by the potlatch custom of the Kwakwaka’wakw and other indigenous groups who lived in chiefdom societies along the northwest coast of North America from the extreme northwest tip of California through the coasts of Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and southern Alaska. Potlatch ceremonies observed major events such as births, deaths, marriages of important persons, and installment of a new chief.ref

“Families prepared for the event by collecting food and other valuables such as fish, berries, blankets, animal skins, carved boxes, and copper. At the potlatch, several ceremonies were held, dances were performed by their “owners,” and speeches delivered. The new chief was watched very carefully. Members of the society noted the eloquence of his speech, the grace of his presence, and any mistakes he made, however egregious or trivial. Next came the distribution of gifts, and again the chief was observed. Was he generous with his gifts? Was the value of his gifts appropriate to the rank of the recipient or did he give valuable presents to individuals of relatively low rank? Did his wealth allow him to offer valuable objects?ref

“The next phase of the potlatch was critical to the chief’s validation of his position. Visitor after visitor would arise and give long speeches evaluating the worthiness of this successor to the chieftainship of his father. If his performance had so far met their expectations, if his gifts were appropriate, the guests’ speeches praised him accordingly. They were less than adulatory if the chief had not performed to their expectations and they deemed the formal eligibility of the successor insufficient. He had to perform. If he did, then the guests’ praise not only legitimized the new chief in his role, but also it ensured some measure of peace between villages. Thus, in addition to being a festive event, the potlatch determined the successor’s legitimacy and served as a form of diplomacy between groups.ref

“Much has been made among anthropologists of rivalry potlatches in which competitive gifts were given by rival pretenders to the chieftainship. Philip Drucker argued that competitive potlatches were a product of sudden demographic changes among the indigenous groups on the northwest coast. When smallpox and other diseases decimated hundreds, many potential successors to the chieftainship died, leading to situations in which several potential successors might be eligible for the chieftainship. Thus, competition in potlatch ceremonies became extreme with blankets or copper repaid with ever-larger piles and competitors who destroyed their own valuables to demonstrate their wealth. The events became so raucous that the Canadian government outlawed the displays in the early part of the twentieth century. Prior to that time, it had been sufficient for a successor who was chosen beforehand to present appropriate gifts.ref

Kin-Based Integrative Mechanisms: Conical Clans

“With the centralization of society, kinship is most likely to continue playing a role, albeit a new one. Among Northwest Coast Indians, for example, the ranking model has every lineage ranked, one above the other, siblings ranked in order of birth, and even villages in a ranking scale. Drucker points out that the further north one goes, the more rigid the ranking scheme is. The most northerly of these coastal peoples trace their descent matrilineally; indeed, the Haida consist of four clans. Those further south tend to be patrilineal, and some show characteristics of an ambilineal descent group. It is still unclear, for example, whether the Kwakiutl numaym are patrilineal clans or ambilineal descent groups.ref

“Because chiefdoms cannot enforce their power by controlling resources or by having a monopoly on the use of force, they rely on integrative mechanisms that cut across kinship groups. As with tribal societies, marriage provides chiefdoms with a framework for encouraging social cohesion. However, since chiefdoms have more-elaborate status hierarchies than tribes, marriages tend to reinforce ranks. The patrilineal cross-cousin marriage system also operates in a complex society in highland Burma known as the Kachin. In that system, the wife-giving lineage is known as mayu and the wife-receiving lineage as dama to the lineage that gave it a wifeThus, in addition to other mechanisms of dominance, higher-ranked lineages maintain their superiority by giving daughters to lower-ranked lineages and reinforce the relations between social classes through the mayu-dama relationship.” ref

The Kachin are not alone in using interclass marriage to reinforce dominance. The Natchez peoples, a matrilineal society of the Mississippi region of North America, were divided into four classes: Great Sun chiefs, noble lineages, honored lineages, and inferior “stinkards.” Unlike the Kachin, however, their marriage system was a way to upward mobility. The child of a woman who married a man of lower status assumed his/her mother’s status. Thus, if a Great Sun woman married a stinkard, the child would become a Great Sun. If a stinkard man were to marry a Great Sun woman, the child would become a stinkard. The same relationship obtained between women of noble lineage and honored lineage and men of lower status. Only two stinkard partners would maintain that stratum, which was continuously replenished with people in warfare.ref

“Other societies maintained status in different ways. Brother-sister marriages, for example, were common in the royal lineages of the Inca, the Ancient Egyptians, and the Hawaiians, which sought to keep their lineages “pure.” Another, more-common type was patrilateral parallel-cousin marriage in which men married their fathers’ brothers’ daughters. This marriage system, which operated among many Middle Eastern nomadic societies, including the Rwala Bedouin chiefdoms, consolidated their herds, an important consideration for lineages wishing to maintain their wealth.ref

Poro and sande secret societies for men and women, respectively, are found in the Mande-speaking peoples of West Africa, particularly in Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Ivory Coast, and Guinea. The societies are illegal under Guinea’s national laws. Elsewhere, they are legal and membership is universally mandatory under local laws. They function in both political and religious sectors of society. So how can such societies be secret if all men and women must join? According to Beryl Bellman, who is a member of a poro association, the standard among the Kpelle of Liberia is an ability to keep secrets. Members of the community are entrusted with the political and religious responsibilities associated with the society only after they learn to keep secrets. There are two political structures in poros and sandes: the “secular” and the “sacred.ref

“The secular structure consists of the town chief, neighborhood and kin group headmen, and elders. The sacred structure (the zo) is composed of a hierarchy of “priests” of the poro and the sande in the neighborhood, and among the Kpelle the poro and sande zo take turns dealing with in-town fighting, rapes, homicides, incest, and land disputes. They, like leopard skin chiefs, play an important role in mediation. The zo of both the poro and sande are held in great respect and even feared. Some authors have suggested that sacred structure strengthens the secular political authority because chiefs and landowners occupy the most powerful positions in the zo. Consequently, these chiefdoms seem to have developed formative elements of a stratified society and a state, as we see in the next section.ref


“Opposite from egalitarian societies in the spectrum of social classes is the stratified society, which is defined as one in which elites who are a numerical minority control the strategic resources that sustain life. Strategic resources include water for states that depend on irrigation agriculture, land in agricultural societies, and oil in industrial societies. Capital and products and resources used for further production are modes of production that rely on oil and other fossil fuels such as natural gas in industrial societies. (Current political movements call for the substitution of solar and wind power for fossil fuels.)ref

“Operationally, stratification is, as the term implies, a social structure that involves two or more largely mutually exclusive populations. An extreme example is the caste system of traditional Indian society, which draws its legitimacy from Hinduism. In caste systems, membership is determined by birth and remains fixed for life, and social mobility—moving from one social class to another—is not an option. Nor can persons of different castes marry; that is, they are endogamous. Although efforts have been made to abolish castes since India achieved independence in 1947, they still predominate in rural areas.ref

“India’s caste system consists of four varna, pure castes, and one collectively known as Dalit and sometimes as Harijan—in English, “untouchables,” reflecting the notion that for any varna caste member to touch or even see a Dalit pollutes them. The topmost varna caste is the Brahmin or priestly caste. It is composed of priests, governmental officials and bureaucrats at all levels, and other professionals. The next highest is the Kshatriya, the warrior caste, which includes soldiers and other military personnel and the police and their equivalents. Next are the Vaishyas, who are craftsmen and merchants, followed by the Sudras (pronounced “shudra”), who are peasants and menial workers. Metaphorically, they represent the parts of Manu, who is said to have given rise to the human race through dismemberment. The head corresponds to Brahmin, the arms to Kshatriya, the thighs to Vaishya, and the feet to the Sudra.ref

“There are also a variety of subcastes in India. The most important are the hundreds, if not thousands, of occupational subcastes known as jatis. Wheelwrights, ironworkers, landed peasants, landless farmworkers, tailors of various types, and barbers all belong to different jatis. Like the broader castes, jatis are endogamous, and one is born into them. They form the basis of the jajmani relationship, which involves the provider of a particular service, the jajman, and the recipient of the service, the kamin. Training is involved in these occupations but one cannot change vocations. Furthermore, the relationship between the jajman and the kamin is determined by previous generations. If I were to provide you, my kamin, with haircutting services, it would be because my father cut your father’s hair. In other words, you would be stuck with me regardless of how poor a barber I might be. This system represents another example of an economy as an instituted process, an economy embedded in society.ref

“Similar restrictions apply to those excluded from the varna castes, the “untouchables” or Dalit. Under the worst restrictions, Dalits were thought to pollute other castes. If the shadow of a Dalit fell on a Brahmin, the Brahmin immediately went home to bathe. Thus, at various times and locations, the untouchables were also unseeable, able to come out only at night. Dalits were born into jobs considered polluting to other castes, particularly work involving dead animals, such as butchering (Hinduism discourages consumption of meat so the clients were Muslims, Christians, and believers of other religions), skinning, tanning, and shoemaking with leather. Contact between an upper caste person and a person of any lower caste, even if “pure,” was also considered polluting and was strictly forbidden.ref

“The theological basis of caste relations is karma—the belief that one’s caste in this life is the cumulative product of one’s acts in past lives, which extends to all beings, from minerals to animals to gods. Therefore, though soul class mobility is nonexistent during a lifetime, it is possible between lifetimes. Brahmins justified their station by claiming that they must have done good in their past lives. However, there are indications that the untouchable Dalits and other lower castes are not convinced of their legitimation.ref

“Although India’s system is the most extreme, it not the only caste system. In Japan, a caste known as Burakumin is similar in status to Dalits. Though they are no different in physical appearance from other Japanese people, the Burakumin people have been forced to live in ghettos for centuries. They descend from people who worked in the leather tanning industry, a low-status occupation, and still work in leather industries such as shoemaking. Marriage between Burakumin and other Japanese people is restricted, and their children are excluded from public schools.ref

“Some degree of social mobility characterizes all societies, but even so-called open-class societies are not as mobile as one might think. In the United States, for example, actual movement up the social latter is rare despite Horatio Alger and rags-to-riches myths. Stories of individuals “making it” through hard work ignore the majority of individuals whose hard work does not pay off or who actually experience downward mobility. Indeed, the Occupy Movement, which began in 2011, recognizes a dichotomy in American society of the 1 percent (millionaires and billionaires) versus the 99 percent (everyone else), and self-styled socialist Bernie Sanders made this the catch phrase of his campaign for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. In India (a closed-class society), on the other hand, there are exceptions to the caste system. In Rajasthan, for example, those who own or control most of the land are not of the warrior caste as one might expect; they are of the lowest caste and their tenants and laborers are Brahmins.ref


“The state is the most formal of the four levels of political organization under study here. In states, political power is centralized in a government that exercises a monopoly over the legitimate use of force. It is important to understand that the exercise of force constitutes a last resort; one hallmark of a weak state is frequent use of physical force to maintain order. States develop in societies with large, often ethnically diverse populations—hundreds of thousands or more—and are characterized by complex economies that can be driven by command or by the market, social stratification, and an intensive agricultural or industrial base.ref

“Several characteristics accompany a monopoly over use of legitimate force in a state. First, like tribes and chiefdoms, states occupy a more or less clearly defined territory or land defined by boundaries that separate it from other political entities that may or not be states (exceptions are associated with the Islamic State and are addressed later). Ancient Egypt was a state bounded on the west by desert and possibly forager or tribal nomadic peoples. Mesopotamia was a series of city-states competing for territory with other city-states.ref

“Heads of state can be individuals designated as kings, emperors, or monarchs under other names or can be democratically elected, in fact or in name—military dictators, for example, are often called presidents. Usually, states establish some board or group of councilors (e.g., the cabinet in the United States and the politburo in the former Soviet Union.) Often, such councils are supplemented with one or two legislative assemblies. The Roman Empire had a senate (which originated as a body of councilors) and as many as four assemblies that combined patrician (elite) and plebian (general population) influences. Today, nearly all of the world’s countries have some sort of an assembly, but many rubber-stamp the executive’s decisions (or play an obstructionist role, as in the U.S. Congress during the Obama administration).ref

“States also have an administrative bureaucracy that handles public functions provided for by executive orders and/or legislation. Formally, the administrative offices are typically arranged in a hierarchy, and the top offices delegate specific functions to lower ones. Similar hierarchies are established for the personnel in a branch. In general, agricultural societies tend to rely on inter-personal relations in the administrative structure while industrial states rely on rational hierarchical structures. An additional state power is taxation—a system of redistribution in which all citizens are required to participate. This power is exercised in various ways. Examples include the mitá or labor tax of the Inca, the tributary systems of Mesopotamia, and monetary taxes familiar to us today and to numerous subjects throughout the history of the state. Control over others’ resources is an influential mechanism undergirding the power of the state.ref

“A less tangible but no less powerful characteristic of states is their ideologies, which are designed to reinforce the right of powerholders to rule. Ideologies can manifest in philosophical forms, such as the divine right of kings in pre-industrial Europe, karma and the caste system in India, consent of the governed in the United States, and the metaphorical family in Imperial China. More often, ideologies are less indirect and less perceptible as propaganda. We might watch the Super Bowl or follow the latest antics of the Kardashians, oblivious to the notion that both are diversions from the reality of power in this society. Young Americans, for example, may be drawn to military service to fight in Iraq by patriotic ideologies just as their parents or grandparents were drawn to service during the Vietnam War. In a multitude of ways across many cultures, Plato’s parable of the shadows in the cave—that watchers misperceive shadows as reality—has served to reinforce political ideologies.ref

“Finally, there is delegation of the state’s coercive power. The state’s need to use coercive power betrays an important weakness—subjects and citizens often refuse to recognize the powerholders’ right to rule. Even when the legitimacy of power is not questioned, the use and/or threat of force serves to maintain the state, and that function is delegated to agencies such as the police to maintain internal order and to the military to defend the state against real and perceived enemies and, in many cases, to expand the state’s territory. Current examples include a lack of accountability for the killing of black men and women by police officers; the killing of Michael Brown by Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, is a defining example.ref

State and Nation

“Though state and nation are often used interchangeably, they are not the same thing. A state is a coercive political institution; a nation is an ethnic population. There currently are about 200 states in the world, and many of them did not exist before World War II. Meanwhile, there are around 5,000 nations identified by their language, territorial base, history, and political organization. Few states are conterminous with a nation (a nation that wholly comprises the state). Even in Japan, where millions of the country’s people are of a single ethnicity, there is a significant indigenous minority known as the Ainu who at one time were a distinct biological population as well as an ethnic group. Only recently has Japanese society opened its doors to immigrants, mostly from Korea and Taiwan. The vast majority of states in the world, including the United States, are multi-national.ref

Some ethnicities/nations have no state of their own. The Kurds, who reside in adjacent areas of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran, are one such nation. In the colonial era, the Mande-speaking peoples ranged across at least four West African countries, and borders between the countries were drawn without respect to the tribal identities of the people living there. Diasporas, the scattering of a people of one ethnicity across the globe, are another classic example. The diaspora of Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews is well-known. Many others, such as the Chinese, have more recently been forced to flee their homelands. The current ongoing mass migration of Syrians induced by formation of the Islamic State and the war in Syria is but the most recent example.ref

Formation of States

“How do states form? One precondition is the presence of a stratified society in which an elite minority controls life-sustaining strategic resources. Another is increased agricultural productivity that provides support for a larger population. Neither, however, is a sufficient cause for development of a state. A group of people who are dissatisfied with conditions in their home region has a motive to move elsewhere—unless there is nowhere else to go and they are circumscribed. Circumscription can arise when a region is hemmed in by a geographic feature such as mountain ranges or desert and when migrants would have to change their subsistence strategies, perhaps having to move from agriculture back to foraging, herding, or horticulture or to adapt to an urban industrialized environment. The Inca Empire did not colonize on a massive scale beyond northern Chile to the south or into the Amazon because indigenous people there could simply pick up and move elsewhere. Still, the majority of the Inca population did not have that option. Circumscription also results when a desirable adjacent region is taken by other states or chiefdoms.ref

“Who, then, were the original subjects of these states? One short answer is peasants, a term derived from the French paysan, which means “countryman.” Peasantry entered the anthropological literature relatively late. In his 800-page tome Anthropology published in 1948, Alfred L. Kroeber defined peasantry in less than a sentence: “part societies with part cultures.” Robert Redfield defined peasantry as a “little tradition” set against a “great tradition” of national state society. Louis Fallers argued in 1961 against calling African cultivators “peasants” because they had not lived in the context of a state-based civilization long enough.ref

“Thus, peasants had been defined in reference to some larger society, usually an empire, a state, or a civilization. In light of this, Wolf sought to place the definition of peasant on a structural footing. Using a funding metaphor, he compared peasants with what he called “primitive cultivators.” Both primitive cultivators and peasants have to provide for a “caloric fund” by growing food and, by extension, provide for clothing, shelter, and all other necessities of life. Second, both must provide for a “replacement fund”—not only reserving seeds for next year’s crop but also repairing their houses, replacing broken pots, and rebuilding fences. And both primitive cultivators and peasants must provide a “ceremonial fund” for rites of passage and fiestas. They differ in that peasants live in states, and primitive cultivators do not. The state exercises domain over peasants’ resources, requiring peasants to provide a “fund of rent.” That fund appears in many guises, including tribute in kind, monetary taxes, and forced labor to an empire or lord. In Wolf’s conception, primitive cultivators are free of these obligations to the state.ref

Subjects of states are not necessarily landed; there is a long history of landless populations. Slavery has long coexisted with the state, and forced labor without compensation goes back to chiefdoms such as Kwakwaka’wakw. Long before Portuguese, Spanish, and English seafarers began trading slaves from the west coast of Africa, Arab groups enslaved people from Africa and Europe. For peasants, proletarianization— loss of land—has been a continuous process. One example is landed gentry in eighteenth century England who found that sheepherding was more profitable than tribute from peasants and removed the peasants from the land. A similar process occurred when Guatemala’s liberal president privatized the land of Mayan peasants that, until 1877, had been held communally.ref

Law and Order in States

“At the level of the state, the law becomes an increasingly formal process. Procedures are more and more regularly defined, and categories of breaches in civil and criminal law emerge, together with remedies for those breaches. Early agricultural states formalized legal rules and punishments through codes, formal courts, police forces, and legal specialists such as lawyers and judges. Mediation could still be practiced, but it often was supplanted by adjudication in which a judge’s decision was binding on all parties. Decisions could be appealed to a higher authority, but any final decision must be accepted by all concerned. The first known system of codified law was enacted under the warrior king Hammurabi in Babylon (present day Iraq). This law was based on standardized procedures for dealing with civil and criminal offenses, and subsequent decisions were based on precedents (previous decisions).ref

“Crimes became offenses not only against other parties but also against the state. Other states developed similar codes of law, including China, Southeast Asia, and state-level Aztec and Inca societies. Two interpretations, which are not necessarily mutually exclusive, have arisen about the political function of codified systems of law. Fried (1978) argued, based on his analysis of the Hammurabi codes, that such laws reinforced a system of inequality by protecting the rights of an elite class and keeping peasants subordinates. This is consistent with the theory of a stratified society as already defined. Another interpretation is that maintenance of social and political order is crucial for agricultural states since any disruption in the state would lead to neglect of agricultural production that would be deleterious to all members of the state regardless of their social status. Civil laws ensure, at least in theory, that all disputing parties receive a hearing—so long as high legal expenses and bureaucratic logjams do not cancel out the process. Criminal laws, again in theory, ensure the protection of all citizens from offenses ranging from theft to homicide.ref

“Inevitably, laws fail to achieve their aims. The United States, for example, has one of the highest crime rates in the industrial world despite having an extensive criminal legal system. The number of homicides in New York City in 1990 exceeded the number of deaths from colon and breast cancer and all accidents combined. Although the rate of violent crime in the United States declined during the mid-1990s, it occurred thanks more to the construction of more prisons per capita (in California) than of schools. Nationwide, there currently are more than one million prisoners in state and federal correctional institutions, one of the highest national rates in the industrial world. Since the 1990s, little has changed in terms of imprisonment in the United States. Funds continue to go to prisons rather than schools, affecting the education of minority communities and expanding “slave labor” in prisons, according to Michelle Alexander who, in 2012, called the current system the school-to-prison pipeline.ref

Warfare in States

“Warfare occurs in all human societies but at no other level of political organization is it as widespread as in states. Indeed, warfare was integral to the formation of the agricultural state. As governing elites accumulated more resources, warfare became a major means of increasing their surpluses. And as the wealth of states became a target of nomadic pastoralists, the primary motivation for warfare shifted from control of resources to control of neighboring populations.ref

“A further shift came with the advent of industrial society when industrial technologies driven by fossil fuels allowed states to invade distant countries. A primary motivation for these wars was to establish economic and political hegemony over foreign populations. World War I, World War II, and lesser wars of the past century have driven various countries to develop ever more sophisticated and deadly technologies, including wireless communication devices for remote warfare, tanks, stealth aircraft, nuclear weapons, and unmanned aircraft called drones, which have been used in conflicts in the Middle East and Afghanistan. Competition among nations has led to the emergence of the United States as the most militarily powerful nation in the world.ref

“The expansion of warfare by societies organized as states has not come without cost. Every nation-state has involved civilians in its military adventures, and almost everyone has been involved in those wars in some way—if not as militarily, then as member of the civilian workforce in military industries. World War II created an unprecedented armament industry in the United States, Britain, Germany, and Japan, among others, and the aerospace industry underwent expansion in the so-called Cold War that followed. Today, one can scarcely overlook the role of the process of globalization to explain how the United States, for now an empire, has influenced the peoples of other countries in the world.ref

Stability and Duration of States

“It should be noted that states have a clear tendency toward instability despite trappings designed to induce awe in the wider population. Few states have lasted a thousand years. The American state is more than 240 years old but increases in extreme wealth and poverty, escalating budget and trade deficits, a war initiated under false pretenses, escalating social problems, and a highly controversial presidential election suggest growing instability. Jared Diamond’s book Collapse compared the decline and fall of Easter Island, Chaco Canyon, and the Maya with contemporary societies such as the United States, and he found that overtaxing the environment caused the collapse of those three societies. Chalmers Johnson (2004) similarly argued that a state of perpetual war, loss of democratic institutions, systematic deception by the state, and financial overextension contributed to the decline of the Roman Empire and will likely contribute to the demise of the United States “with the speed of FedEx.ref

“Why states decline is not difficult to fathom. Extreme disparities in wealth, use of force to keep populations in line, the stripping of people’s resources (such as the enclosures in England that removed peasants from their land), and the harshness of many laws all should create a general animosity toward the elite in a state. Yet, until recently (following the election of Donald Trump), no one in the United States was taking to the streets calling for the president to resign or decrying the government as illegitimate. In something of a paradox, widespread animosity does not necessarily lead to dissolution of a state or to an overthrow of the elite. Thomas Frank addressed this issue in What’s the Matter with Kansas? (2004). Despite the fact that jobs have been shipped abroad, that once-vibrant cities like Wichita are virtual ghost towns, and that both congress and the state legislature have voted against social programs time and again, Kansans continue to vote the Republicans whose policies are responsible for these conditions into office.ref

“Nor is this confined to Kansas or the United States. That slaves tolerated slavery for hundreds of years (despite periodic revolts such as the one under Nat Turner in 1831), that workers tolerated extreme conditions in factories and mines long before unionization, that there was no peasant revolt strong enough to reverse the enclosures in England—all demand an explanation. Frank discusses reinforcing variables, such as propaganda by televangelists and Rush Limbaugh but offers little explanation beside them. However, recent works have provided new explanations. Days before Donald Trump won the presidential election on November 8, 2016, sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild released a book that partially explains how Trump appealed to the most marginalized populations of the United States, residents around Lake Charles in southwestern Louisiana.ref

“In the book, Strangers in Their Own Land (2016), Hochschild contends that the predominantly white residents there saw the federal government providing preferential treatment for blacks, women, and other marginalized populations under affirmative action programs while putting white working-class individuals further back in line for governmental assistance. The people Hochschild interviewed were fully aware that a corporate petroleum company had polluted Lake Charles and hired nonlocal technicians and Filipino workers to staff local positions, but they nonetheless expressed their intent to vote for a billionaire for president based on his promise to bring outsourced jobs back to “America” and to make the country “great again.” Other books, including Thomas Frank’s Listen Liberal (2016), Nancy Isenberg’s White Trash (2016), and Matt Wray’s Not Quite White: White Trash and the Boundaries of Whiteness (2006), address the decline of the United States’ political power domestically and worldwide. These books all link Trump’s successful election to the marginalization of lower-class whites and raise questions about how dissatisfaction with the state finds expression in political processes.ref

Stratification and the State: Recent Developments

“States elsewhere and the stratified societies that sustain them have undergone significant changes and, in some instances, dramatic transformations in recent years. Consider ISIS, formed in reaction to the ill-advised U.S. intervention in Iraq in 2003, which will be discussed in greater detail below. Other states have failed; Somalia has all but dissolved and is beset by piracy, Yemen is highly unstable due in part to the Saudi invasion, and Syria is being decimated by conflict between the Bashar Assad government and a variety of rebel groups from moderate reform movements to extremist jihadi groups, al-Nusra and ISIS. Despite Myanmar’s (formerly Burma) partial transition from a militarized government to an elective one, the Muslim minority there, known as Rohingya, has been subjected to discrimination and many have been forced to flee to neighboring Bangladesh. Meanwhile, Bangladesh has been unable to enforce safety regulations to foreign investors as witnessed by the collapse of a clothing factory in 2013 that took the lives of more than 1,100 workers.ref


A chiefdom is a political organization of people represented or governed by a chief. Chiefdoms have been discussed, depending on their scope, as a stateless, state analogue or early state system or institution. Usually a chief’s position is based on kinship, which is often monopolized by the legitimate senior members of select families or ‘houses’. These elites can form a political-ideological aristocracy relative to the general group. Chiefdoms and chiefs are sometimes identified as the same as kingdoms and kings, and therefore understood as monarchies, particularly when they are understood as not necessarily states, but having monarchic representation or government.” ref

“In anthropological theory, one model of human social development rooted in ideas of cultural evolution describes a chiefdom as a form of social organization more complex than a tribe or a band society, and less complex than a state or a civilization. Within general theories of cultural evolution, chiefdoms are characterized by permanent and institutionalized forms of political leadership (the chief), centralized decision-making, economic interdependence, and social hierarchy.” ref

“Chiefdoms are described as intermediate between tribes and states in the progressive scheme of sociopolitical development formulated by Elman Service: band – tribe – chiefdom – state. A chief’s status is based on kinship, so it is inherited or ascribed, in contrast to the achieved status of Big Man leaders of tribes. Another feature of chiefdoms is therefore pervasive social inequality. They are ranked societies, according to the scheme of progressive sociopolitical development formulated by Morton Fried: egalitarian – ranked – stratified – stateThe most succinct definition of a chiefdom in anthropology is by Robert L. Carneiro: “An autonomous political unit comprising a number of villages or communities under the permanent control of a paramount chief.” ref

“In archaeological theory, Service’s definition of chiefdoms as “redistribution societies with a permanent central agency of coordination” (Service 1962: 144) has been most influential. Many archaeologists, however, dispute Service’s reliance upon redistribution as central to chiefdom societies, and point to differences in the basis of finance (staple finance v. wealth finance). Service argued that chief rose to assume a managerial status to redistribute agricultural surplus to ecologically specialized communities within this territory (staple finance). Yet in re-studying the Hawaiian chiefdoms used as his case study, Timothy Earle observed that communities were rather self-sufficient. What the chief redistributed was not staple goods, but prestige goods to his followers that helped him to maintain his authority (wealth finance).” ref

“Some scholars contest the utility of the chiefdom model for archaeological inquiry. The most forceful critique comes from Timothy Pauketat, whose Chiefdom and Other Archaeological Delusions outlines how chiefdoms fail to account for the high variability of the archaeological evidence for middle-range societies. Pauketat argues that the evolutionary underpinnings of the chiefdom model are weighed down by racist and outdated theoretical baggage that can be traced back to Lewis Morgan‘s 19th-century cultural evolution. From this perspective, pre-state societies are treated as underdeveloped, the savage and barbaric phases that preceded civilization. Pauketat argues that the chiefdom type is a limiting category that should be abandoned, and takes as his main case study Cahokia, a central place for the Mississippian culture of North America. Pauketat’s provocation, however, fails to offer a sound alternative to the chiefdom type. For while he claims that chiefdoms are a delusion, he describes Cahokia as a civilization. This upholds rather than challenges the evolutionary scheme he contests.” ref

“Chiefdoms are characterized by the centralization of authority and pervasive inequality. At least two inherited social classes (elite and commoner) are present. (The ancient Hawaiian chiefdoms had as many as four social classes.) An individual might change social class during a lifetime by extraordinary behavior. A single lineage/family of the elite class becomes the ruling elite of the chiefdom, with the greatest influence, power, and prestige. Kinship is typically an organizing principle, while marriage, age, and sex can affect one’s social status and role. A single simple chiefdom is generally composed of a central community surrounded by or near a number of smaller subsidiary communities. All of the communities recognize the authority of a single kin group or individual with hereditary centralized power, dwelling in the primary community. Each community will have its own leaders, which are usually in a tributary and/or subservient relationship to the ruling elite of the primary community.” ref

“A complex chiefdom is a group of simple chiefdoms controlled by a single paramount center and ruled by a paramount chief. Complex chiefdoms have two or even three tiers of political hierarchy. Nobles are clearly distinct from commoners and do not usually engage in any form of agricultural production. The higher members of society consume most of the goods that are passed up the hierarchy as a tribute. Reciprocal obligations are fulfilled by the nobles carrying out rituals that only they can perform. They may also make token, symbolic redistributions of food and other goods. In two- or three-tiered chiefdoms, higher-ranking chiefs have control over a number of lesser ranking individuals, each of whom controls specific territory or social units. Political control rests on the chief’s ability to maintain access to a sufficiently large body of tribute, passed up the line by lesser chiefs. These lesser chiefs in turn collect from those below them, from communities close to their own center. At the apex of the status hierarchy sits the paramount.” ref

“Anthropologists and archaeologists have demonstrated through research that chiefdoms are a relatively unstable form of social organization. They are prone to cycles of collapse and renewal, in which tribal units band together, expand in power, fragment through some form of social stress, and band together again. An example of this kind of social organization were the Germanic Peoples who conquered the western Roman Empire in the 5th century CE. Although commonly referred to as tribes, anthropologists classified their society as chiefdoms. They had a complex social hierarchy consisting of kings, a warrior aristocracy, common freemen, serfs, and slaves.” ref

“The Native American tribes sometimes had ruling kings or satraps (governors) in some areas and regions. The Cherokee, for example, had an imperial-family ruling system over a long period of history. The early Spanish explorers in the Americas reported on the Indian kings and kept extensive notes during what is now called the conquest. Some of the native tribes in the Americas had princes, nobles, and various classes and castes. The “Great Sun” was somewhat like the Great Khans of Asia and eastern Europe. Much like an emperor, the Great Sun of North America is the best example of chiefdoms and imperial kings in North American Indian history. The Aztecs of Mexico had a similar culture.” ref

Chief or Chiefess

From Middle English cheefchef, from the current french word Chef, chief (leader), from Vulgar Latin capus (from which also captainchieftain), from Latin caput (head) (English cap (head covering)), from Proto-Indo-European *kauput- (English head). Doublet of chef. Chiefess, (female chief) from chief +‎ -esschiefess (plural chiefesses) (Hawaii) Synonym of chieftainess, a female chief. Chief (plural chiefs) leader or head of a group of people, organisation, etc. [from 13th c.] ” ref

Band chief (plural band chiefs) in (anthropology) The chief or headman of a band society. The chief elected officer of an Indian band in Canada. The chairperson of the band council for an Indian band. Roughly equivalent to a mayor in non-indigenous local government.” ref


From Middle English cheveteyncheftayne, from Old French chevetaine, from Late Latin capitaneus (English captain), from Latin caput (head), from Proto-Indo-European *kauput- (English head). Doublet of captain. A Chieftain (also chieftainess or chieftess) or (plural chieftains) is a leader of a clan or tribe. (leader of a clan or tribe): chiefbig gunbig shotbig wheelbigwigbossemployerforemanheadleadermandarinmanagermover and shakertop bananatop dogtycoon. From Middle Scots chiftanechyftane, from Early Scots chefftane, from Middle English cheftayne, from Old French chevetaine, from Late Latin capitaneus, from Latin caput (head), from Proto-Indo-European *kauput-.” ref

Scottish clan chief

The Scottish Gaelic word clann means children. In early times, and possibly even today, Scottish clan members believed themselves to descend from a common ancestor, the founder of the clan, after whom the clan is named. The clan chief (ceannard cinnidh) is the representative of this founder, and represents the clan. In the Scottish clan system, a chief is greater than a chieftain (ceann-cinnidh), a designation applied to heads of branches of a clan. Scottish clans that no longer have a clan chief are referred to as armigerous clans.” ref

Historically the principal function of the chief was to lead the clan in battle on land and sea. The chief and the chieftain were at one time in the Scottish Highlands influential political characters, who wielded a large and often arbitrary authority. However, none of this authority now remains. Highland chiefship or chieftainship in the modern sense is no more than a high social dignity. The existence of chiefship and chieftainship has been recognized by Scottish law; however, the disarming of the Highland clans after the 1745 Jacobite rising effectively eliminated clanship from ordinary civil or statutory law. Most notable was the Heritable Jurisdictions (Scotland) Act, of 1746 that abolished traditional rights of jurisdiction afforded to Scottish clan chiefs.” ref

While Scottish law recognizes the existence of clans, chiefs and chieftains, this recognition is only one of social dignity or precedence via the Lyon Court, and does not involve any interest for which the law has jurisdiction. According to former Lord Lyon Sir Thomas Innes of Learney, a clan is a community that is distinguished by heraldry and recognised by the sovereign. Without that recognition, a clan chief, and therefore the clan, would have no official recognition. Innes further considered clans to be a “noble incorporation” because the arms borne by a clan chief are granted or otherwise recognised by the Lord Lyon as an officer of the Crown, thus conferring royal recognition of and on the entire clan. Clans with recognised chiefs are therefore considered a noble community under Scots law. A group without a chief recognised by the sovereign through the Lord Lyon has no official standing under Scottish law. Claimants to the title of chief are expected to be recognised by the Lord Lyon as the rightful heir to the undifferenced arms of the ancestor of the clan of which the claimant seeks to be recognized as chief.” ref

“A chief of a clan is the only person who is entitled to bear the undifferenced arms of the ancestral founder of the clan. The clan is considered to be the chief’s heritable estate and the chief’s Seal of Arms is the seal of the clan as a “noble corporation”. Therefore, under Scots law, the chief is recognised as the head of the clan and therefore, once recognised, serves as the lawful representative of the clan community worldwide. The Lyon Court remains the only authority which can make a recording of the dignity of a chiefship acknowledged by attestation, although it is suggested it cannot declare judicially a chiefship. Further, although no Scottish court can exercise a jurisdiction to determine disputes of competing claimants to a chiefship or chieftainship, to quote Lord Aitchinson in the Court of Session it is presumed that “Historically the idea of a chief or chieftain submitting his dignity to the arbitrament of its Court of law is really grotesque. The chief was the law, and his authority was derived from his own people.” ref

Tribe and Clan

The term tribe is used in many different contexts to refer to a category of human social group. The predominant worldwide usage of the term in English is in the discipline of anthropology. Its definition is contested, in part due to conflicting theoretical understandings of social and kinship structures, and also reflecting the problematic application of this concept to extremely diverse human societies. The concept is often contrasted by anthropologists with other social and kinship groups, being hierarchically larger than a lineage or clan, but smaller than a chiefdomethnicitynation, or state.” ref

“Considerable debate has accompanied efforts to define and characterize tribes. In the popular imagination, tribes reflect a primordial social structure from which all subsequent civilizations and states developed. Anthropologist Elman Service presented a system of classification for societies in all human cultures, based on the evolution of social inequality and the role of the state. This system of classification contains four categories:

“Tribes are therefore considered to be a political unit formed from an organization of families (including clans and lineages) based on social or ideological solidarity. Membership of a tribe may be understood as being based on factors such as kinship (“clan”), ethnicity (“race”), language, dwelling place, political group, religious beliefs, oral tradition, and/or cultural practicesArchaeologists continue to explore the development of pre-state tribes. Current research suggests that tribal structures constitute one type of adaptation to situations providing plentiful yet unpredictable resources. Such structures proved flexible enough to coordinate production and distribution of food in times of scarcity, without limiting or constraining people during times of surplus.ref

Anthropologist Morton Fried argued in 1967 that bands organized into tribes in order to resist the violence and exploitation of early kingdoms and states. He wrote: In fact, there is no absolute necessity for a tribal stage as defined by Sahlins and Service, no necessity, that is, for such a stage to appear in the transit from a single settlement with embedded political organization, to a complex-state structured polity. Such a developmental process could have gone on within a unit that we may conceptualize as a city-state, such a unit as Jericho might have become in its later stages … tribalism can be viewed as a reaction to the formation of complex political structure rather than a necessary preliminary stage in its evolution.ref

Tribal chief

tribal chiefchieftain, or headman is the leader of a tribal society or chiefdomThe concept of tribe is a broadly applied concept, based on tribal concepts of societies of western Afroeurasia. Tribal societies are sometimes categorized as an intermediate stage between the band society of the Paleolithic stage and civilization with a centralized, super-regional government based in cities. Anthropologist Elman Service distinguishes two stages of tribal societies: simple societies organized by limited instances of social rank and prestige, and more stratified societies led by chieftains or tribal kings (chiefdoms). Stratified tribal societies led by tribal kings are thought to have flourished from the Neolithic stage into the Iron Age, albeit in competition with urban civilizations and empires beginning in the Bronze Age. In the case of tribal societies of indigenous peoples existing within larger colonial and post-colonial states, tribal chiefs may represent their tribe or ethnicity in a form of self-government.” ref

“The most common types are the chairman of a council (usually of “elders“) and/or a broader popular assembly in “parliamentary” cultures, the war chief (may be an alternative or additional post in war time), the hereditary chief, and the politically dominant medicineman. The term is usually distinct from chiefs at lower levels, such as village chief (geographically defined) or clan chief (an essentially genealogical notion). The descriptive “tribal” requires an ethno-cultural identity (racial, linguistic, religious etc.) as well as some political (representative, legislative, executive and/or judicial) expression. In certain situations, and especially in a colonial context, the most powerful member of either a confederation or a federation of such tribal, clan or village chiefs would be referred to as a paramount chief.” ref

Terms of specific tribal Chiefdoms



Oceania and Southeast Asia

  • Aliʻi and Aliʻi nui were the chiefs and high chiefs of the islands of Hawaii Islands
  • Ariki, ‘ariki henua
  • Grade-taking systems of northern Vanuatu
  • Ibedul
  • Meena means Chief of tribals in South Asia.
  • Iroijlaplap
  • Maga’låhi and maga’håga, the first-borne male and female, respectively, joint heads of a Chamorro clan, through the maternal line, of the Mariana Islands
  • Matai, in the Samoan fa’amatai system
  • Nahnmwarki (Pohnpei), Lepen Palikir
  • Pilung, a title for village, municipal and paramount chiefs and rulers of the Yap Islands
  • Rangatira, a chief of Māori in New Zealand
  • Ratu, Fijian Chief, Malay for Queen
  • Datu, Malay and Filipino Chief” ref

“Chieftain: chief, especially of a band, tribe, or clan” ref

“A clan is a group of people united by actual or perceived kinship and descent. Even if lineage details are unknown, a clan may claim descent from a founding member or apical ancestor who serves as a symbol of the clan’s unity. Clans, in indigenous societies, were not endogamous: their members could not marry one another. Clans preceded more centralized forms of community organization and government, and have existed in every country. Members may identify with a coat of arms or other symbol. The English word “clan” is derived from old Irish clann meaning “children”, “offspring”, “progeny” or “descendants”; it is not from the word for “family” or “clan” in either Irish or Scottish Gaelic. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “clan” was introduced into English in around 1425, as a descriptive label for the organization of society in Ireland and the Scottish HighlandsNone of the Irish and Scottish Gaelic terms for kinship groups is cognate to English clan; Scottish Gaelic clann means “children”: fine [ˈfʲɪnʲə] means (English) “clan”, teaghlach means “family” in the sense of the nuclear family, or can include more distant relatives living in the same house, líon tí means either “family” in the sense of “household,” or everyone who lives in the house, including non-relatives, muintir means “family” in the broad sense of “kinsfolk.” ref

“In different cultures and situations, a clan usually has different meaning than other kin-based groups, such as tribes and bands. Often, the distinguishing factor is that a clan is a smaller, integral part of a larger society such as a tribe, chiefdom, or a state. In some societies, clans may have an official leader such as a chief, matriarch or patriarch; or such leadership role is performed by elders. In others, leadership positions may have to be achieved.” ref

“Examples include Irish, Scottish, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese clans, which exist as distinct social groupings within their respective nations. Note, however, that tribes and bands can also be components of larger societies. The early Norse clans, the ætter, are often translated as “house” or “line”. The Biblical tribes of Israel were composed of many clans. Arab clans are sub-tribal groups within Arab society. Native American and First Nations peoples, often referred to as “tribes,” also have clans. For instance, Ojibwa bands are smaller parts of the Ojibwa people or tribes in North America. The many Native American peoples are distinguished by language and culture, and most have clans and bands as the basic kinship organizations. In some cases, tribes recognized each other’s clans; for instance, both the Chickasaw and Choctaw tribes of the Southeast United States had fox and bear clans, who felt a kinship that reached beyond their respective tribes.” ref

“Apart from these different historical traditions of kinship, conceptual confusion arises from colloquial usages of the term. In post-Soviet countries, for example, it is quite common to speak of “clans” in reference to informal networks within the economic and political sphere. This usage reflects the assumption that their members act towards each other in a particularly close and mutually supportive way, approximating the solidarity among kinsmen. Similar usage of the term applies to specific groups of various cultures and nationalities involved in organized crime. Polish clans differ from most others as they are a collection of families who bear the same coat of arms, as opposed to claiming a common descent (see Polish heraldry). There are multiple closely related clans in the Indian subcontinent, especially South IndiaRomani people have many clans which are called vitsa in Romani.” ref

Clan, kin group used as an organizational device in many traditional societies. Membership in a clan is traditionally defined in terms of descent from a common ancestor. This descent is usually unilineal, or derived only through the male (patriclan) or the female (matriclan) line. Normally, but not always, the clans are exogamous, or out-marrying: marriage within the clan is forbidden and regarded as a form of incest. Clans may segment into subclans or lineages, and genealogical records or myths may be altered to incorporate new members who have no biological relation to the clan.” ref

“Until the later 20th century, clans were a phenomenon of great interest to anthropologists, but since then they have generally become less important in analyses of cultural organization. From a functional perspective, clans help to unify groups by cross-cutting other forms of social organization, such as the settlement, postmarital residence patterns, or age sets. Allied clans generally have reciprocal relations, providing each other with mutual support and defense and with emotionally or financially taxing services such as funerals. Some clans express their unity in terms of the possession of a common emblem, which may represent the ancestral being or common origin of the members and, as such, is often an object of reverence.” ref

“Dogra dynasty, Rajput clan, or group of clans, in the Kashmir region of the northwestern Indian subcontinent. They form the chief, or mian, portion of Rajputs of the territory centered on Jammu (lying north of what is now Lahore, Pakistan, roughly between the Chenab and Ravi rivers). They attained prominence in the 19th century. There had long been a small state of Jammu, but after 1780 it became tributary to the Sikhs. Gulab Singh distinguished himself in the service of the Sikhs and was made raja of Jammu in 1820, which was the beginning of the Dogra dynasty. He expanded to the north, annexing the Ladakh and Baltistan areas. In the First Sikh War (1845–46), Singh held aloof and then appeared as a mediator. As a reward, Kashmir (annexed by the Sikhs in 1819) was given to him by the British for a cash payment. The population of the Vale of Kashmir itself was, apart from a Brahman minority, predominantly Muslim. In 1947 Hari Singh, the great-grandson of Gulab Singh, faced with an incursion of Pashtuns from Pakistan, acceded to union with India, and this territory became the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.” ref


“Clannism (in Somali culture, qabiilism) is a system of society based on clan affiliation. The Islamic world, the Near East, North and East Africa in general, and Somali culture specifically, is patriarchal and traditionally centered on patrilineal clans or tribes.” ref

Clanism’s effect is strong in state-owned companies and moderate in privately held companies, while it is weak in the subsidiaries of multinational companies.” ref

South Asia
Middle East

“The Iroquois clans were developed at a time in our history when there were a lot less people than there are today. It was a time when the people were not sure who they were related to. The elders were worried that the young people were getting together with their closely related family members. There was much apprehension about how to relate with each other. The elders began to meet about how this was going to be addressed. A young man told the Council about his idea to alleviate the problems that people were having. He said the animal world all have their own ways of doing things. The birds all have their own ways, each species. The trees have their own ways also, each family. He suggested that each family have their eldest woman intently pay attention to what she sees in the next morning. Each woman seen a different animal in the morning. This animal is to represent the clan for each of the women’s families.” ref


“In the Iroquois Creation Story, the earth was created on the back of a turtle. It was there that life began to grow. The Turtle Clan represents the shifting of the earth and the cycles of the moon. The people of the Turtle Clan are considered the well of information and the keepers of the land. The responsibility of the Turtle Clan is everything that has to do with the environment.” ref


“The Bear Clan people are known as Medicine People, the healers. There are stories passed down about how the Bear Clan people were given the gift of medicine from an elder woman who had the knowledge of all the medicine plants here on earth. The Great Law speaks of how all members of each clan have a relationship to each other. The laws of clanship are quite rigid. For instance, since you have a family relationship with everyone in your clan it is forbidden to marry a person of the same clan, even if one is Mohawk and their partner is Oneida. Additionally, the clans have a relationship to each other. The Wolf Clan is considered a cousin to the Turtle Clan and an uncle to the Bear Clan. The Turtle Clan is the older brother to the Bear Clan.” ref

“Symbols of the clans can be seen everywhere throughout the Oneida Nation Reservation; on the tribal logo, the Human Resources Department orientation folder, and throughout the Oneida Tribal School. Each wing of the Elder Complex on Overland Drive is named for one of the clans. The Oneida Nation Elementary School was designed in the shape of a turtle and is recognized as a point of interest to incoming and outgoing airline passengers who travel through Austin Straubel Airport. Even the Oneida tribal license plates bear symbols of the clans.” ref


The Wolf Clan represents the path finders. Their responsibility is to guide the people in living their lives in the way the Creator intended.


“The Iroquois people are a matrilineal society, which means they follow the mother’s side of the family when it comes to identity and family. If a man would marry a woman, then he would move in with her family. The woman’s family would include her mother, father, brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandmothers, and grandfathers. The women in the household took care of everyone’s children. Any and all children in the house were considered a son or daughter. All aunties were looked at as mother. Uncles were looked at as father figures, and grandparents were of highest graces to all. The grandmothers and grandfathers had small duties but major roles in helping to raise the children.” ref

“As the children grew older, the young men would go with the men and learn how to hunt, fish, gather wood, and they would learn how to fight if it were ever necessary. The young women would stay home with the women and grandparents and learn household chores like cooking, cleaning, sewing, and gathering foods to be prepared later. All the children would listen to the elders’ stories of the old times and they would learn from them. Their stories would explain a life lesson and they would be able to apply it to their everyday life. As the young men became men, they would start to travel to find a wife. They would find a good woman and court her in the proper way. He would go home and tell his mother who she was and who her family is.” ref

“Then they would prepare a basket for that family, and the parents would negotiate a deal as to whether he is good enough for their daughter to marry their son. Sometimes, there were arranged marriages. One thing that occurred during these negotiations was the man’s brother would also come and live in the same village as the son, so he doesn’t get to lonely for his family. Sometimes, even if the man finds a woman, it is still up to the mothers to make an agreement. When a girl is ready to become a mother, the grandmothers let her know when it is her time. She then waits for the right man and finds out what her life is going to be. She could find a man and bring him to her mother and then her mother and his mother go through the process of getting married.” ref


“The clan mothers are responsible for appointing the chiefs on the peoples’ behalf. The clan mothers watch young boys and see how they act and how they mature over time. They look at the progress the child into young adulthood and determine which young man could be a potential chief. The clan mothers are the leaders when it came to voicing opinions of the people. They have the first and last say as to what the Chiefs do to help the people. They meet and tell the chief what the people want to be done. The clan mothers are also responsible for informing and listening to the men, women and children in their respective clan families. They are counselors for the people. If the people have a problem they can always go to the clan mothers for advice or knowledge. The clan mothers are the backbone of the Iroquois people.” ref


“The chiefs are responsible for making the right decision in the community’s best interests. The chiefs listen to what the clan mothers say and they then become the voice of the people. The chiefs are the advisors for the people. They are there as support for the community. They also act as counselors for the people. If the people have problems or needed advice they can go to the chief and ask him. The chief also helps conduct the ceremonies a long side of the faithkeepers. Most times he will be the one to conduct the traditional ceremonies. The chiefs are there for the people and the advisors at chiefs meetings. They bring back what they talked about in Grand Council and tell the clan mothers what went on. They then let the people know, and if there were a problem or a decision that had to be made by the community they all would have a chance to speak. Then the chiefs would take it back to the clan mothers and figure out the best decisions for the people are. The chief would then go back and let the rest of the chiefs know what his community wants to do. The chief is the voice, ears, and advocate for his people.” ref


“The faithkeepers are the operatives of the actions that the clan mothers, chiefs, and community’s decide. They get the longhouse ready for anything that may be happening on the grounds, whether it be a ceremony, a social gathering or anything like that. They make sure the ceremonies are ran as they are supposed at the right times of the year. They are also responsible for bringing the people together. The faithkeepers let the people know when there is something going on. They organize the longhouse and keep everything running smoothly. They are also the ones who find helpers around the community. They are responsible for the wellbeing of the people. The faithkeepers act as spiritual advisors for the people. The faithkeepers are the ones who carryout what the chiefs and clan mothers say. Their primary responsibility is to insure that the four sacred ceremonies are being conducted. The four sacred ceremonies are The Great Feather Dance, Mens Chant, Water Drum Dance, and the Peachstone Game. They see to it that these four ceremonies stay active within the longhouse.” ref

Tlingit clan system

“The Tlingit culture is multifaceted and complex, a characteristic of Northwest Pacific Coast people with access to easily exploited rich resources. In Tlingit culture a heavy emphasis is placed upon family and kinship, and on a rich oratory tradition. Wealth and economic power are important indicators of rank, but so is generosity and proper behavior, all signs of “good breeding” and ties to aristocracy. Art and spirituality are incorporated in nearly all areas of Tlingit culture, with even everyday objects such as spoons and storage boxes decorated and imbued with spiritual power and historical beliefs of the Tlingits.” ref

“Tlingit society is divided into two moieties, the Raven and the Eagle. These in turn are divided into numerous clans, which are subdivided into lineages or house groups. They have a matrilineal kinship system, with descent and inheritance passed through the mother’s line. These groups have heraldic crests, which are displayed on totem poles, canoes, feast dishes, house posts, weavings, jewelry, and other art forms. The Tlingits pass down at.oow(s) or blankets that represented trust. Only a Tlingit can inherit one but they can also pass it down to someone they trust, who becomes responsible for caring for it but does not rightfully own it. Like other Northwest Coast native peoples, the Tlingit did practice hereditary slavery.” ref

“The Tlingit or Lingít are Alaska Native Indigenous Peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America and are one of two-hundred twenty-nine (229) federally recognized Tribes of Alaska. Their language is the Tlingit language (natively Lingít, pronounced [ɬɪ̀nkɪ́tʰ]), in which the name means ‘People of the Tides’. The Russian name Koloshi (Колоши, from a Sugpiaq-Alutiiq term kulut’ruaq for the labret worn by women) or the related German name Koulischen may be encountered referring to the people in older historical literature. Tlingit people today belong to two federally recognized Alaska Native tribes: the Central Council of the Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska and the Yakutat Tlingit Tribe.” ref

“The Tlingit have a matrilineal kinship system, with children born into the mother’s clan, and property and hereditary roles passing through the mother’s line. Their culture and society developed in the temperate rainforest of the southeast Alaskan coast and the Alexander Archipelago. The Tlingit have maintained a complex hunter-gatherer culture based on semi-sedentary management of fisheries. Hereditary servitude was practiced extensively until it was outlawed by the United States Government. An inland group, known as the Inland Tlingit, inhabits the far northwestern part of the province of British Columbia and the southern Yukon in Canada.” ref

The Tlingit occupied almost all of the Alexander Archipelago, except the southernmost end of Prince of Wales Island and its surroundings, where the Kaigani Haida moved just before the first encounters with European explorers. Tlingit thought and belief, although never formally codified, was historically a fairly well-organized philosophical and religious system whose basic axioms shaped the way Tlingit people viewed and interacted with the world around them. Tlingits were traditionally animists, and hunters ritually purified themselves before hunting animals. Shamans, primarily men, cured diseases, influenced weather, aided in hunting, predicted the future, and protected people against witchcraft. A central part of the Tlingit belief system was the belief in reincarnation of both humans and animals. Today, some young Tlingits look back towards their traditional tribal religions and worldviews for inspiration, security, and a sense of identity. While many elders converted to Christianity, contemporary Tlingit “reconcile Christianity and the ‘traditional culture.” ref

“The Tlingit people of Southeast Alaska and Western Canada speak the Tlingit language (Lingít [ɬɪ̀nkítʰ]), which is a branch of the Na-Dené language family. Lingít has a complex grammar and sound system and also uses certain phonemes unheard in almost any other language. Tlingit tribes historically built plank houses made from cedar and today call them clanhouses; these houses were built with a foundation such that they could store their belongings under the floors. It is said that these plank houses had no adhesive, nails, or any other sort of fastening devices. Clan houses were usually square or rectangular in shape and had front facing designs and totem poles to represent to which clan and moiety the makers belonged. Genetic analyses of HLA I and HLA II genes as well as HLA-A, -B, and -DRB1 gene frequencies links the Ainu people of Japan to some Indigenous peoples of the Americas, especially to populations on the Pacific Northwest Coast, such as Tlingit. The scientists suggest that the main ancestor of the Ainu and of the Tlingit can be traced back to Paleolithic groups in Southern Siberia.” ref

Clans in Japan, including the Ainu

“Japanese clans: The old clans (gōzoku) mentioned in the Nihon Shoki and Kojiki lost their political power before the Heian period, during which new aristocracies and families, kuge, emerged in their place. After the Heian period, the samurai warrior clans gradually increased in importance and power until they came to dominate the country after the founding of the first shogunate. The Imperial clan – descended from Amaterasu. Its emperors and clan members have no clan name but had been called “the imperial house” (皇室) if necessary.” ref

Gempeitōkitsu (源平藤橘), 4 noble clans of Japan:

“The Ainu are an ethnic group which consists of related indigenous peoples which are native to northern Japan, including Hokkaido and Northeast Honshu, as well as the land surrounding the Sea of Okhotsk, such as Sakhalin, the Kuril Islands, the Kamchatka Peninsula, and the Khabarovsk Krai; they have occupied these areas known to them as “Ainu Mosir” (Ainuアイヌモシㇼlit.‘the land of the Ainu’), since before the arrival of the modern Japanese and Russians.” ref

“The Ainu are one of the only major ethnic minorities in the Japanese islands, with a distinct and unique culture and way of life. They were subject to forced assimilation and colonization by the far larger Yamato population of Japan since at least the 18th century. Japanese assimilation policies in the 19th century around the Meiji Restoration included forcing Ainu peoples off their land; this, in turn, forced them to give up traditional ways of life such as subsistence hunting and fishing. Ainu people were not allowed to practice their religion, and they were pushed into Japanese-language schools where speaking the Ainu language was strictly forbidden. In 1966, there were about 300 native Ainu speakers; in 2008, there were about 100. Since 2019, there have been increasing efforts to revitalize the Ainu language.” ref

“It has also been noted that the Okhotsk culture played a role in the formation of the later Ainu culture. The origin of the Okhotsk culture itself is subject to research. While Okhotsk remains display affinity to the modern Nivkh people of northern Sakhalin, both also display affinities to the Jōmon peoples of Japan, pointing to a possible heterogeneous makeup of Okhotsk society. Satsumon pottery has been found among Okhotsk sites, pointing to a complex network of contacts in the wider area around the Sea of Okhotsk.” ref 

“The Hokkaido Jōmon people, which predated the formation of the Ainu people and culture, formed from “proper Jōmon tribes of Honshu” and from “Terminal Upper-Paleolithic people” (TUP people) indigenous Paleolithic Northern Eurasia. These two groups merged in Hokkaido, giving rise to the local Hokkaido Jōmon in about 15,000 BCE. The Ainu in turn formed from the local Hokkaido Jōmon and from the Okhotsk tribes.” ref

“An analysis of 16 Ainu male individuals found that the majority (14/16) belong to Y-DNA Haplogroup D-M55, while a minority (2/16) belongs to Haplogroup C-M217. D-M55 is found throughout the Japanese archipelago, with very high frequencies among the Ainu of Hokkaido. C-M217 is found more commonly among populations from Northeast Asia and Central Asia. Another analysis found that one out of four Ainu men belonged to haplogroup C-M217, while the remaining three belonged to haplogroup D-M55. An analysis of 51 Ainu individuals found that around 51% of their mtDNA subclades are unique to the Ainu, while the remaining haplogroups are shared with other Asian populations, especially with the Nivkhs in northern Sakhalin and the Koryaks on the Kamchatka Peninsula. Of the 51 Ainu individuals, around 27,5% (14/51) belong to N9 (of which 10 were assigned to subclade Y and four to unclassifed N9 clades), around 23,5% (12/51) to D, around 19,6% (10/51) to M7, and around 19,6% (10/51) to G; the minor haplogroups are A (2/51), B (1/51), F (1/51), and an unclassified subclade of M not belonging to M7, M8, CZ, D, or G.” ref

“The Ainu appear genetically most closely related to the Jōmon period peoples of Japan. Previous genetic analyses of Jomon remains found them to represent a deeply diverged East Asian lineage. The Jomon lineage is inferred to have diverged from Ancient East Asians before the divergence between Ancient Northern East Asians and Ancient Southern East Asians, but after the divergence of the basal Tianyuan man and/or Hoabinhians. Beyond their broad affinity with Eastern Asian lineages, the Jomon also display a weak affinity for Ancient North Eurasians (ANE), which may be associated with the introduction of microblade technology to Northeast Asia and northern East Asia during the Last Glacial Maximum via the ANE or Ancient Paleo-Siberians.ref

“The genetic makeup of the Ainu represents a “deep branch of East Asian diversity”. Compared to contemporary East Asian populations, the Ainu share “a closer genetic relationship with northeast Siberians”. The Ainu also display a relative closer genetic affinity with “lowland East Asians” than “highland East Asians” and may have contributed some ancestry to surrounding populations around the Sea of Okhotsk. Differences in the frequency of the derived EDAR gene variant between the Ainu and contemporary East Asians suggest that the ancestors of the Ainu may not have shared the selective pressures with other Ancestral East Asian populations. The Ainu, however, share two variants in the ADH gene cluster with other East Asians at high frequency, unlike Tibetans and Sherpa, “raising the possibility that selective pressure on these variants was different in the high-altitude environments.ref

“The closest modern ethnic groups to the Ainu are the Ryukyuans in southern Japan, followed by contemporary Japanese people. Compared with other East Asian populations, the Ainu are forming an outgroup, pointing to long-lasting isolation after their divergence. By analyzing the SNP loci of Ainu individuals, it was found that they carry genes associated with facial structure found among Europeans and hair and tooth morphology found among East Asians. Genetic analyses of HLA I and HLA II genes as well as HLA-A, B, and DRB1 gene frequencies placed the Ainu in an intermediate position between indigenous peoples of the Americas and contemporary Northeast Asians.ref

As of 2015, the North Kuril Ainu of Zaporozhye form the largest Ainu subgroup in Russia. The Nakamura clan (South Kuril Ainu on their paternal side), the smallest group, numbers just six people residing in Petropavlovsk. On Sakhalin Island, a few dozen people identify themselves as Sakhalin Ainu, but many more with partial Ainu ancestry do not acknowledge it. Unofficial subgroups of the Ainu people: Hokkaido Ainu, Tokyo Ainu, Tohoku Ainu, Sakhalin Ainu, Northern Kuril Ainu, Southern Kuril Ainu, Kamchatka Ainu, and Amur Valley Ainu.” ref

“From an archeological perspective, refers to the cultural forms created by the indigenous peoples of Hokkaido and the northern Tohoku region after the Satsumon culture period. The mainstream theory maintains that the Ainu culture originated from the local Hokkaido-Jōmon culture, a merger of the Okhotsk and Satsumon subcultures. It is suggested that Hokkaido had a continuous occupation by a people who undertook a cultural shift. This is similar to the situation in which the Japanese maintained the Heian culture until the 12th century, and then shifted to the Kamakura culture in the 13th century. In other words, the population remains the same, but the culture changed. Although there was not as much of a cultural break as the change from the Jomon to the Yayoi period, the cultural customs differed greatly from earlier ones. The Ainu culture is considered indigenous to Hokkaido, Sakhalin and the Kurils, as well as the Tōhoku region of Honshu. Early Ainu-speaking groups (mostly hunters and fishermen) migrated also into the Kamchatka Peninsula. Other evidence for Ainu-speakers in Honshu is through the Ainu toponyms which are found in several places of northern Honshu, mostly among the western coast and the Tōhoku region. Evidence for Ainu speakers in the Amur region is found through Ainu loanwords in the Uilta and Ulch people.” ref

“In archaeological terms, Ainu culture is marked by material cultural features such as iron pots, lacquerware bowls, sake chopsticks, bone hunting tools, hooked harpoons for salmon fishing, and extended burials. The Ainu culture is also known to have had regional differences. According to Rinzō Mamiya‘s Hoki Bunkai Yōwa, the Sakhalin Ainu adopted cultural elements from surrounding cultures, such as the use of dog sledding and skiing. In the early modern period, they retained cultural elements found in the Okhotsk culture in northern Hokkaido, such as the production of earthenware and the use of pit-houses during the winter. The shape of the armor also differed from the Hokkaido Ainu, with a unique combination of chest and waist armor. The Sakhalin Ainu are also notable for their custom of mummification. Mummification is not practiced in the Okhotsk culture area, nor in the Ainu culture of Hokkaido. However, in northern Japan, the mummies of three generations of the Oshu Fujiwara clan, who are said to have controlled northern trade in the late Heian period, are preserved in Hiraizumi.” ref

“It is thought that the Ainu lived in social units called kotan (small village, usually five or six houses) when the Ainu culture was first established. Later, around the 15th century, the region became more culturally and politically integrated due to trade and conflicts between the Ainu and the Japanese, and by the 17th century, the Japanese had established a number of hunting and fishing settlements (iwor) around rivers called Sodaisho or Sotomyo. The Japanese lord mayor was a powerful ruler who politically integrated a large area comparable to the provinces of Japan or to a Chinese county. However, after Shakushain’s revolt (1669 – 1672), which was partly caused by the division of the region into separate iwor, the political unity of the Ainu region was dismantled with the shift to the place contracting system.” ref

“The theory that Ainu society was a disparity society with extremely unequal distribution of wealth has been presented. Based on literature and the results of the excavation of tombs, Takuro Segawa has pointed out that early modern Ainu society was divided into four classes: the kamoi (chiefs), the nispa (lords and nobility), the commoners, and the usiune utare (slaves), with wealth concentrated in the kamoi. The Ainu were sometimes hostile to the Japanese. There was also periodic inter-Ainu warfare. In particular, the conflict between the Menasunkur Ainu (the eastern group) and the Sumunkur Ainu (the western group) was fierce, and there were battles that resulted in many deaths. Shakshain, the chief of the Menasunkuru clan who challenged the Matsumae clan, also fought and killed Onibishi, the chief of the Sumunkuru clan. Other inter-tribal battles were fought, sometimes involving extensive travel.” ref

“Disputes between kotan were decided on the merits in open discussions called carange, to prevent the disputes from escalating into violence. The debates took place in casi, or fortified compounds. In addition to this, the custom of saimon or “trial by ordeal” remained strong, and the outcome of such ordeals constituted a pact to settle a matter. When a crime occurred in Ainu society, the village chief brought the defendant to justice at his own discretion. In general, adultery was punished by ear shaving or nose shaving, and theft was punished by caning with a club called a shuto, or by cutting the Achilles tendon.” ref

“As the Ainu have never had a strong unified government, their laws and punishments have been greatly influenced by the authorities and the region, and if the village chief was mild, the guilty party was given lenient treatment, while if the chief was cruel, the guilty party was severely punished. There was no death penalty for the Hokkaido Ainu, but for serious crimes such as murder, some sentences were difficult to survive, such as being banished from the kotan after the Achilles tendon was severed. In Sakhalin Ainu society, murderers were sentenced to be buried alive along with the bodies of their victims  There is a theory that this kind of system was not understood by the Japanese, whose court system was developed during the Edo period and who established a modern judicial system after the Meiji Restoration. This failure to understand led to contempt for the Ainu.” ref

“It is thought that the luxury goods brought by the Japanese were possessed by the wealthy as treasures, and that pedantic consumption of these goods secured collateral their authority within the tribe. The Abe clan of the Heian period, the Northern Fujiwara clan, the Oshu Fujiwara clan, and the Ando clan, which had a navy in the Middle Ages, were among the Ou clan’s Primorskaya Oblast in the Medieval Period, which was carried out by the Ando clan and other powerful Ou clans with naval forces. The Matsumae clan, through the intermediary of the Ainu, traded Japanese iron products and lacquerware in Ezo (Karafuto and Sōya) for silk fabrics, iron products, and glass beads, including official Qing dynasty uniforms, brought by the visiting Primorsky people. They also exchanged iron products, glass beads, and other items.” ref

“Tattoos were an important symbol of the gods associated with the belief in spirits. The traditional tattoo around the mouth of an adult Ainu woman is thought to resemble a beard, but some believe it resembles the mouth of a sacred snake. When this traditional tattoo is applied, the mouth of the young woman is wiped clean and disinfected with hot water infused with the bark of alder. The tip of a mantis (small knife) is used to make fine scratches, and soot is rubbed in. “Ainu tattooing is done only on women, and begins with multiple horizontal wounds made with a small knife just above the upper lip of girls as young as seven or eight years old, where the soot is rubbed in. Once the tattoo around the mouth is done, the back of the hand and forearm are tattooed. Once a woman is married, she is no longer tattooed. In the case of men, there were also various tattooing customs in different regions. In some areas, men got tattoos on their shoulders, and in other areas, men got tattoos on their hands, which were said to improve their archery skills and make them better hunters.” ref

The custom of tattooing flourished in Japan during the Jōmon and Yayoi (until around Umataikoku) and fell into disuse in Japanese society with the Yamatization (Yamato Court). It remained a custom in Ezo, but disappeared as they assimilated into Japanese society. In Amami and Ryukyu, the custom remained until the modern era. The custom of tattooing women’s faces has been revived among the Māori people in modern-day New Zealand, but tattoos specific to the Ainu people have been limited to temporary tattoos applied for specific events. The Ainu language does not have its own writing system, and traditions were passed down orally. During the Meiji period, the Ainu continued to use the “tying rope” for arithmetic and record keeping. Similar customs include straw calculation in OkinawaFuxi Xi knots in East Asia, and the Quipu system among the Inca of South America. There was a rumor or myth among the Japanese that the Ainu could not count, but this is not true.” ref

“It is possible that the Japanese, such as the Matsumae clan, intentionally refrained from teaching the written language to the Ainu for political reasons, fearing that their misdeeds would be written down. There is also the view that the Ainu did not accept the use of the written language from them for cultural reasons. For this reason, the Ainu did not record themselves in writing or compile books until schooling was made compulsory during the Meiji period. Therefore, records of the pre-Meiji Ainu culture are mainly found in books written from a Japanese perspective.” ref

Anishinaabe clan system

The Anishinaabe, like most Algonquian-speaking groups in North America, base their system of kinship on clans or totems. The Ojibwe word for clan (doodem) was borrowed into English as totem. The clans, based mainly on animals, were instrumental in traditional occupations, intertribal relations, and marriages. Today, the clan remains an important part of Anishinaabe identity. Each clan is forbidden from harming its representation animal by any means, as it is a bad omen to do so.” ref

“The Anishinaabe peoples are divided into a number of doodeman, or clans, (singular: doodem) named mainly for animal totems (or doodem, as an Ojibwe person would say this word in English).[1] In Anishinaabemowinode’ means heart. Doodem or clan literally would translate as ‘the expression of, or having to do with one’s heart’; in other words doodem refers to the extended family. According to written / oral tradition, the Anishinaabeg spanned the North Eastern Woodlands of Turtle Island (North America). The origins of the Clans where giving to the Getay-Anishinawbeg after the cleansing of the Earth by water. As the memory of people had been wiped clean. Anishinaabe Toodaims: is the social fabric context for politics, kinship, and identity of the Anishinawbeg peoples.” ref

“The meh established “a framework of social organization to give them strength and order” in which each totem represents a core branch of knowledge and responsibility essential to society. Today, seven general totems compose this framework. The crane and the loon are the leadership, responsible for over-seeing and leading the people. The fish are the scholars and mediators and are responsible for solving disputes between the crane and the loon. The bear are both police and medicine gatherers. The martens are hunters but also warriors as well. The moose are mediators and exemplify peace. Clans are both a means of acquiring and retaining knowledge for the Anishinawbeg. Knowledge gained through experience and interactions with the natural world and other clan members is passed down and built upon through generations.” ref

“Traditionally, each band had a highly democratic independent council consisting of leaders of the communities’ Families / clans or odoodeman, with the group often identified by the principal doodem. In meeting others, the traditional greeting among the Ojibwe peoples is “What is your doodem?” (“Aaniin odoodemaayan?“) in order to establish a social conduct between the two meeting parties as family. Marriage among members of the same clan is forbidden.” ref

“The clan system is an integral part of acquiring and retaining knowledge for the Anishinaabe. Each clan contributes a key element to the society and individual members contribute to a clan’s knowledge through experience. During a clan member’s lifetime, they are able to gain knowledge known by the clan; emphasis is placed on personal experience, rather than a strict student-teacher relationship. Although members learn through relationships with other clan members, it is the experience gained as a result of these relationships that allows them to attain knowledge. Throughout a clan member’s life, knowledge they gain that was previously unknown to the clan is added to the clan’s collective knowledge. This knowledge is then passed down to future generations, contributing to the “flow of Nebwakawin (wisdom) that passes from generation to generation.ref

“There were at least twenty-one Ojibwe totems in all, recorded by William Whipple Warren. Other recorders, such as John Tanner, list many fewer but with different doodem types. For the Potawatomi, at least 15 different totems were recorded. The clan types today are quite extensive, but usually only a handful of odoodeman are found in each of the Anishinaabe communities. Like any other All Anishinawbeg speaking peoples, the Anishinawbeg clan system served as a system of social weave as well as a means of dividing labour. The clan groups or phratries are listed below, listing each of the doodem clans or gentes within their group.” ref 

Anishinawbeg clans

Bimaawidaasi group

The Bimaawidaasi group was charged with scouting, hunting, and gathering.

Giishkizhigwan group

“The Giishkizhigwan group was charged with teaching and healing.

Nooke group

“The Nooke group was responsible for defense and healing. Though today the Bear Clan has all merged into a single clan known as Nooke, at one time the Bear was the largest — so large, in fact, that it was sub-divided into body parts such as the head (Makoshtigwaan or ‘bear-skull’), the ribs and the feet (Nookezid or ‘tender-foot’), as well as different types of bears such as the Waabishki-makwa or ‘white black bear‘ and the Mishimakwa or ‘grizzly bear.ref

  • “Makwa (Bear)
    • Makoshtigwaan (Bear-skull)
    • Nookezid (Tender-foot)
    • Makokon (Bear’s Liver)
    • Miskwaa’aa (Blood)
    • Waabishki-makwa (White black bear)
    • Mishimakwa (Grizzly bear)
  • Bizhiw (Lynx)
  • Ma’iingan or Mawii’aa(Wolf)ref

Baswenaazhi group

“The Baswenaazhi group were traditionally charged with outgoing International communications. Because of this, often members of the Baswenaazhi group are said to be the most vocal.ref

Bemaangik group

“The Bemaangik are charged with internal/domestic communications. They were often charged with the community’s own council fires and help facilitate dialogue on all internal/domestic issues.ref

Giishkizhigwan group

    “Bineshiinh (Bird)

    Aan’aawenh, Aa’aawenh or Aa’aawe (Pintail) (Oj)

    Owewe (Wild goose or “Swan”)

    Bine (Partridge or “turkey“) or Aagask (grouse) (Oj, Po)

    Nika (Goose) (Ms, Oj)

    Maang (Loon) (Al, Oj, Od, Po)

    (Makade)Zhiishiib ((Black) duck) (Oj)

    Gayaashk (Gull) (Oj, Od)

    Jiwiiskwiiskiwe (Snipe) (Oj)

    Omooshka’oozi (Bittern) (Oj)

    Zhedeg (Pelican)

    Ogiishkimanisii (Kingfisher) (Al, Oj)

    Aandeg (Crow) (Po)

    Gaagaagishiinh (Raven)

    Omiimii (Pigeon) (Ms)

    Apishi-gaagaagi (Magpie) (Ms)ref

    Totemism Clans and the Moiety System

    “A totem (from Ojibwe: ᑑᑌᒼ or ᑑᑌᒻ doodem) is a spirit being, sacred object, or symbol that serves as an emblem of a group of people, such as a family, clan, lineage, or tribe, such as in the Anishinaabe clan system. While the word totem itself is an anglicisation of the Ojibwe term (and both the word and beliefs associated with it are part of the Ojibwe language and culture), belief in tutelary spirits and deities is not limited to the Ojibwe people. Similar concepts, under differing names and with variations in beliefs and practices, may be found in a number of cultures worldwide. The term has also been adopted, and at times redefined, by anthropologists and philosophers of different cultures. Contemporary neoshamanic, New Age, and mythopoetic men’s movements not otherwise involved in the practice of a traditional, tribal religion have been known to use “totem” terminology for the personal identification with a tutelary spirit or spirit guide.” ref

    “The Anishinaabe peoples are divided into a number of doodeman (in syllabicsᑑᑌᒪᐣ or ᑑᑌᒪᓐ), or clans, (singular: doodem) named mainly for animal totems (or doodem, as an Ojibwe person would say this word). In Anishinaabemowinᐅᑌᐦ ode’ means heart. Doodem or clan literally would translate as ‘the expression of, or having to do with one’s heart’, with doodem referring to the extended family. In the Anishinaabe oral tradition, in prehistory the Anishinaabe were living along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean when the great Miigis beings appeared from the sea. These beings taught the Mide way of life to the Waabanakiing peoples. Six of the seven great Miigis beings that remained to teach established the odoodeman for the peoples in the east. The five original Anishinaabe totems were Wawaazisii (bullhead), Baswenaazhi (echo-maker, i.e., crane), Aan’aawenh (pintail duck), Nooke (tender, i.e., bear) and Moozwaanowe (“little” moose-tail).” ref

    The totem poles of the Pacific Northwestern Indigenous peoples of North America are carved, monumental poles featuring many different designs (bears, birds, frogs, people, and various supernatural beings and aquatic creatures). They serve multiple purposes in the communities that make them. Similar to other forms of heraldry, they may function as crests of families or chiefs, recount stories owned by those families or chiefs, or commemorate special occasions. These stories are known to be read from the bottom of the pole to the top.” ref

    “The spiritual, mutual relationships between Aboriginal Australians, Torres Strait Islanders, and the natural world are often described as totems. Many Indigenous groups object to using the imported Ojibwe term “totem” to describe a pre-existing and independent practice, although others use the term. The term “token” has replaced “totem” in some areas. In some cases, such as the Yuin of coastal New South Wales, a person may have multiple totems of different types (personal, family or clan, gender, tribal, and ceremonial). The lakinyeri or clans of the Ngarrindjeri were each associated with one or two plant or animal totems, called ngaitji. Totems are sometimes attached to moiety relations (such as in the case of Wangarr relationships for the Yolngu). Torres Strait Islanders have auguds, typically translated as totems. An augud could be a kai augud (“chief totem”) or mugina augud (“little totem”).” ref

    “Early anthropologists sometimes attributed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander totemism to ignorance about procreation, with the entrance of an ancestral spirit individual (the “totem”) into the woman believed to be the cause of pregnancy (rather than insemination). James George Frazer in Totemism and Exogamy wrote that Aboriginal people “have no idea of procreation as being directly associated with sexual intercourse, and firmly believe that children can be born without this taking place.” Frazer’s thesis has been criticized by other anthropologists, including Alfred Radcliffe-Brown in Nature in 1938.” ref

    “Early anthropologists and ethnologists like James George Frazer, Alfred Cort Haddon, John Ferguson McLennan, and W. H. R. Rivers identified totemism as a shared practice across indigenous groups in unconnected parts of the world, typically reflecting a stage of human development. Scottish ethnologist John Ferguson McLennan, following the vogue of 19th-century research, addressed totemism in a broad perspective in his study The Worship of Animals and Plants (1869, 1870). McLennan did not seek to explain the specific origin of the totemistic phenomenon but sought to indicate that all of the human race had, in ancient times, gone through a totemistic stage.” ref

    “Another Scottish scholar, Andrew Lang, early in the 20th century, advocated a nominalistic explanation of totemism, namely, that local groups or clans, in selecting a totemistic name from the realm of nature, were reacting to a need to be differentiated. If the origin of the name was forgotten, Lang argued, there followed a mystical relationship between the object—from which the name was once derived—and the groups that bore these names. Through nature myths, animals and natural objects were considered as the relatives, patrons, or ancestors of the respective social units. British anthropologist Sir James George Frazer published Totemism and Exogamy in 1910, a four-volume work based largely on his research among Indigenous Australians and Melanesians, along with a compilation of the work of other writers in the field.” ref

    “By 1910, the idea of totemism as having common properties across cultures was being challenged, with Russian American ethnologist Alexander Goldenweiser subjecting totemistic phenomena to sharp criticism. Goldenweiser compared Indigenous Australians and First Nations in British Columbia to show that the supposedly shared qualities of totemism—exogamy, naming, descent from the totem, taboo, ceremony, reincarnation, guardian spirits and secret societies and art—were actually expressed very differently between Australia and British Columbia, and between different peoples in Australia and between different peoples in British Columbia. He then expands his analysis to other groups to show that they share some of the customs associated with totemism, without having totems. He concludes by offering two general definitions of totemism, one of which is: “Totemism is the tendency of definite social units to become associated with objects and symbols of emotional value.” ref

    The founder of a French school of sociology, Émile Durkheim, examined totemism from a sociological and theological point of view, attempting to discover a pure religion in very ancient forms and claimed to see the origin of religion in totemism. In addition, he argued that totemism also served as a form of collective worship, reinforcing social cohesion and solidarity. The leading representative of British social anthropology, A. R. Radcliffe-Brown, took a totally different view of totemism. Like Franz Boas, he was skeptical that totemism could be described in any unified way. In this he opposed the other pioneer of social anthropology in England, Bronisław Malinowski, who wanted to confirm the unity of totemism in some way and approached the matter more from a biological and psychological point of view than from an ethnological one. According to Malinowski, totemism was not a cultural phenomenon, but rather the result of trying to satisfy basic human needs within the natural world.” ref

    “As far as Radcliffe-Brown was concerned, totemism was composed of elements that were taken from different areas and institutions, and what they have in common is a general tendency to characterize segments of the community through a connection with a portion of nature. In opposition to Durkheim’s theory of sacralization, Radcliffe-Brown took the point of view that nature is introduced into the social order rather than secondary to it. At first, he shared with Malinowski the opinion that an animal becomes totemistic when it is “good to eat.” He later came to oppose the usefulness of this viewpoint, since many totems—such as crocodiles and flies—are dangerous and unpleasant. In 1938, the structural functionalist anthropologist A. P. Elkin wrote The Australian Aborigines: How to understand them. His typologies of totemism included eight “forms” and six “functions.” ref

    “The forms identified were:

    • individual (a personal totem),
    • sex (one totem for each gender),
    • moiety (the “tribe” consists of two groups, each with a totem),
    • section (the “tribe” consists of four groups, each with a totem),
    • subsection (the “tribe” consists of eight groups, each with a totem),
    • clan (a group with common descent share a totem or totems),
    • local (people living or born in a particular area share a totem) and
    • “multiple” (people across groups share a totem).

    The functions identified were:

    • social (totems regulate marriage, and often a person cannot eat the flesh of their totem),
    • cult (totems associated with a secret organization),
    • conception (multiple meanings),
    • dream (the person appears as this totem in others’ dreams),
    • classificatory (the totem sorts people) and
    • assistant (the totem assists a healer or clever person).” ref

    “Derived from the term “ototeman” in the Ojibwe language, meaning “brother-sister kin,” Totemism is an aspect of religious belief centered upon the veneration of sacred objects called totems. A totem is any animal, plant, or other object, natural or supernatural, which provides deeply symbolic meaning for a person or social group. In some cases, totems may imbue particular person with a feeling of power and energy. In other cases, a variety of totems can serve to demarcate particular groups or clans subsumed within larger tribes. Often, totems are seen as representative of desirable individual qualities, or the natural power from which a given social group has descended. Thus, totems help to explain the mythical origin of the clan while reinforcing clan identity and solidarity, and as such, killing, eating, and even touching a totem is often considered taboo.” ref

    “This form of religious activity is most commonly found within tribal cultures and it is frequently associated with shamanistic religions and their rituals. It is important to note that the concept is generated in the academy by scholars imbued with a sense that European culture is “more civilized.” In fact all religions, including modern Christianity, have aspects to them that function precisely as do “totems.” ref

    “Totemism can be said to characterize the religious beliefs of most indigenous peoples in Canada and the United States. The Sauk and Osage peoples of the northeastern United States, for example, assigned qualities of their clan totems through names to individual members. It was expected that those in clan of the Black Bear or the Wolf, among others, would develop some of the desirable traits of those animals. Among the Ojibwa people, from whose language the concept of totemism originated, people were divided into a number of clans called doodem named for various animals. Of the various totemic groups, the crane totem was considered the most vocal. The bear, since it was the largest, was sub-divided into various body parts that also became totemic symbols. These totems were then grouped according to habitat of the given animal, whether it is earth, air or water—and served as a means for governing and dividing labor among the various clans.ref

    “In addition, North American native peoples provide one of the most recognizable examples of totemism in all of human culture—the totem pole. Totem poles are monumental sculptures carved from great trees, typically Western Red cedar, by a number of indigenous peoples located along the Pacific northwest coast of North America. Some poles are erected to celebrate significant beliefs or events, while others are intended primarily for aesthetic presentation. Poles are also carved to illustrate stories, to commemorate historic persons, to represent shamanic powers, and to provide objects of public ridicule. Certain types of totem poles are part of mortuary structures incorporating grave boxes with carved supporting poles, or recessed backs in which grave boxes were placed. The totem poles of North America have many different designs featuring totemic animals such bears, birds, frogs, people, lizards, and often are endowed with arms, legs, and wings.ref

    “Such designs themselves are generally considered to be the property of a particular clan or family group, and ownership is not transferable even if someone outside this clan or group possesses the pole. Despite common misconceptions, there has never been any ubiquitous meaning given to the vertical order of the images represented on the totem pole. On the contrary, many poles have significant figures on the top, while others place such figures bottom, or middle. While totem poles can be described as an example of totemism due to their representation of clan lineages, they were never used specifically as objects of worship. Hence, any associations made between “idol worship” and totem poles were introduced upon the arrival of Christian missionaries.ref


    “Among the Nor-Papua people, who live in the northern region of New Guinea, exogamous patrilineal groups are commonly associated with various species of fish. These totems have an unprecedented cultural presence and appear in numerous representations, including ceremonial flutes within which they take the form of spirit creatures, as well as sculpted figures that are present in every household. Individuals in the various groups are believed to be born from the fish totems. These children come from a holy place, the same holy place to which the totem fish are believed to bring the souls of the dead. Upon reaching responsible age, children are given the choice of whether they will accept the totem of their mother or father. Because of this immense totemic importance, numerous species of fish are classified as taboo for killing or eating.ref


    “In Zimbabwe, totems (mitupo) have been in use among the Shona people ever since the initial stages of their culture. The Shona use totems to identify the different clans that historically made up the ancient civilizations of the dynasties that ruled over them in the city of Great Zimbabwe, which was once the center of the sprawling Munhumutapa Empire. Clans, which consist of a group of related kinsmen and women who trace their descent from a common founding ancestor, form the core of every Shona chiefdom. Totemic symbols chosen by these clans are primarily associated with animal names. The purposes of a totem are: 1) to guard against incestuous behavior, 2) to reinforce the social identity of the clan, and, 3) to provide praise to someone through recited poetry. In contemporary Shona society, there are at least 25 identifiable totems with more than 60 principal names (zvidawo). Every Shona clan is identified by a particular totem (specified by the term mitupo) and principal praise name (chidawo). The principal praise name, in this case, is used to distinguish people who share the same totem but are from different clans. For example, clans that share the same totem Shumba (lion) will identify their different clansmanship by using a particular praise name like Murambwe, or Nyamuziwa. The foundations of the totems are inspired in rhymes that reference the history of the totem.ref


    “The Birhor tribe inhabits the jungle region of the northeastern corner of the Deccan province in India. The tribe is organized by way of exogamous groups that are traced through the patrilineal line and represented by totems based on animals, plants, or inanimate objects. Stories tracing the origin of the tribe suggest that the various totems are connected with the birth of distant ancestors. Totems are treated as if they were human beings and strict taboos forbid such acts as the killing or eating of a totem (if it is a plant or animal), or destroying a totem if it is an object. Such behavior represents a failure to conform to the normal rules of relations with ancestors. The consequences for such misappropriations are dire, and the Birhor believe that the subsistence of their people will be placed in jeopardy if transgressions against the totem occur. Furthermore, the Birhor have put elaborate protocols in place concerning reverence for deceased totemic animals.ref


    “The Iban tribes of Malaysia practice a form of individual totemism based on dreams. If a spirit of a dead ancestor in human form enters the dream of an individual and proceeds to offer protection in the name of an animal, the dreamer must then seek the named animal as their personal totem. The attainment of such a spirit animal is so important that young men will go to such measures as sleeping on graves or fasting in order to aid the dream state. If a dream involving animals has been experienced, then the chosen individual must observe the spirit animal in its natural environment and come to understand its behaviors. Subsequently, the individual will often carry a part (or parts) of their totem animal with them, which represents their protector spirit, and will present sacrificial offerings to its spirit. Strong taboos are placed upon the killing or the eating of the entire species of the spirit animal, which are passed along from the bearer of the spirit to their descendants.ref


    “The Maori, the aboriginal people of New Zealand, practice a form of religion that is generally classified as totemism. Maori religion conceives of everything, including natural elements, as connected by common descent through whakapapa (genealogy). Due to the importance of genealogy, ancestors, of both the mythical and actual variety, are of the utmost importance, serving as individual totems. People are thought to behave as they do because of the presence within them of ancestors. For instance, Rangi and Papa, the progenitor god and goddess of sky and the earth respectively, are seen not only as establishers of the sky and earth, but also as prototypes for the basic natures of men and women. In addition, Tane, the son of Rangi and Papa and creator of the world in the form we know it, provides an archetypal character for Maori males. Maoris also identify numerous animals, insects, and natural forces as totems, including, most importantly, kangaroos, honey-ants, the sun, and the rain. Maoris construct totem pole-like objects in honor of these totemic groups.ref

    Totemism, system of belief in which humans are said to have kinship or a mystical relationship with a spirit-being, such as an animal or plant. The entity, or totem, is thought to interact with a given kin group or an individual and to serve as their emblem or symbol. The term totemism has been used to characterize a cluster of traits in the religion and in the social organization of many peoples. Totemism is manifested in various forms and types in different contexts and is most often found among populations whose traditional economies relied on hunting and gathering, mixed farming with hunting and gathering, or emphasized the raising of cattle. Totemism is a complex of varied ideas and ways of behaviour based on a worldview drawn from nature. There are ideological, mystical, emotional, reverential, and genealogical relationships of social groups or specific persons with animals or natural objects, the so-called totems.” ref

    For instance, people generally view the totem as a companion, relative, protector, progenitor, or helper, ascribe to it superhuman powers and abilities, and offer it some combination of respect, veneration, awe, and fear. Most cultures use special names and emblems to refer to the totem, and those it sponsors engage in partial identification with the totem or symbolic assimilation to it. There is usually a prohibition or taboo against killing, eating, or touching the totem. Although totems are often the focus of ritual behaviour, it is generally agreed that totemism is not a religion. Totemism can certainly include religious elements in varying degrees, just as it can appear conjoined with magic. Totemism is frequently mixed with different kinds of other beliefs, such as ancestor worship, ideas of the soul, or animism. Such mixtures have historically made the understanding of particular totemistic forms difficult.ref

    Group totemism

    “Social or collective totemism is the most widely disseminated form of this belief system. It typically includes one or more of several features, such as the mystic association of animal and plant species, natural phenomena, or created objects with unilineally related groups (lineages, clans, tribes, moieties, phratries) or with local groups and families; the hereditary transmission of the totems (patrilineal or matrilineal); group and personal names that are based either directly or indirectly on the totem; the use of totemistic emblems and symbols; taboos and prohibitions that may apply to the species itself or can be limited to parts of animals and plants (partial taboos instead of partial totems); and a connection with a large number of animals and natural objects (multiplex totems) within which a distinction can be made between principal totems and subsidiary ones (linked totems).ref

    “Group totems are generally associated or coordinated on the basis of analogies or on the basis of myth or ritual. Just why particular animals or natural things—which sometimes possess no economic worth for the communities concerned—were originally selected as totems is often based on eventful and decisive moments in a people’s past. Folk traditions regarding the nature of totems and the origin of the societies in question are informative, especially with regard to the group’s cultural presuppositions. For example, a group that holds that it is derived directly or indirectly from a given totem may have a tradition in which its progenitor was an animal or plant that could also appear as a human being. In such belief systems, groups of people and species of animals and plants can thus have progenitors in common. In other cases, there are traditions that the human progenitor of a kin group had certain favorable or unfavorable experiences with an animal or natural object and then ordered that his descendants respect the whole species of that animal.ref

    “Group totemism was traditionally common among peoples in Africa, India, Oceania (especially in Melanesia), North America, and parts of South America. These peoples include, among others, the Australian Aborigines, the African Pygmies, and various Native American peoples—most notably the Northwest Coast Indians (predominantly fishermen), California Indians, and Northeast Indians. Moreover, group totemism is represented in a distinctive form among the Ugrians and west Siberians (hunters and fishermen who also breed reindeer) as well as among tribes of herdsmen in north and Central Asia.ref

    Individual totemism

    “Individual totemism is expressed in an intimate relationship of friendship and protection between a person and a particular animal or a natural object (sometimes between a person and a species of animal); the natural object can grant special power to its owner. Frequently connected with individual totemism are definite ideas about the human soul (or souls) and conceptions derived from them, such as the idea of an alter ego and nagualism—from the Spanish form of the Aztec word naualli, “something hidden or veiled”—which means that a kind of simultaneous existence is assumed between an animal or a natural object and a person; i.e., a mutual, close bond of life and fate exists in such a way that in case of the injury, sickness, or death of one partner, the same fate would befall the other member of the relationship. Consequently, such totems became most strongly tabooed; above all, they were connected with family or group leaders, chiefs, medicine men, shamans, and other socially significant persons.ref

    “Studies of shamanism indicate that individual totemism may have predated group totemism, as a group’s protective spirits were sometimes derived from the totems of specific individuals. To some extent, there also exists a tendency to pass on an individual totem as hereditary or to make taboo the entire species of animal to which the individual totem belongs. Individual totemism is widely disseminated. It is found not only among tribes of hunters and harvesters but also among farmers and herdsmen. Individual totemism is especially emphasized among the Australian Aborigines and the American Indians.ref

    Moiety (kinship)

    In the anthropological study of kinship, a moiety (/ˈmɔɪəti/) is a descent group that coexists with only one other descent group within a society. In such cases, the community usually has unilineal descent (either patri- or matrilineal) so that any individual belongs to one of the two moiety groups by birth, and all marriages take place between members of opposite moieties. It is an exogamous clan system with only two clans. In the case of a patrilineal descent system, one can interpret a moiety system as one in which women are exchanged between the two moieties. Moiety societies operate particularly among the indigenous peoples of North America and Australia (see Australian Aboriginal kinship for details of Aboriginal moieties).” ref

    Moiety system, form of social organization characterized by the division of society into two complementary parts called “moieties.” Most often, moieties are groups that are exogamous, or outmarrying, that are of unilineal descent (tracing ancestry through either the male or female line, but not both), and that have complementary roles in society. For instance, members of the Raven and Wolf moieties in Tlingit culture traditionally performed certain tasks, such as preparing funerals, for each other. Moieties often reflect divisions found in the culture’s myths and folklore; the Tagaro and Supwe moieties of north Pentecost Island (Vanuatu), for instance, were named for two culture heroes and are said to bear the respective traits of each. Occasionally, if incorrectly, “moiety” is used more loosely to refer simply to one of two divisions of a society.” ref

    “Moiety systems occur in two basic forms: as a feature related to but not necessarily determining the regulation of marriage, and as a system through which to divide a community into two groups for ceremonial or other purposes. Usually these functions are combined, but sometimes only one form occurs, or the two appear concurrently as separate, crosscutting systems. Thus, the Canela of South America have four dual schemes: one to regulate marriage and three to organize people into ceremonial groups. Each of these schemes bisects the tribe in a different way, because each determines membership in a different way—for instance, by lineage, by the name given a person by his maternal uncle, by the generation of his peer group, or by affiliation to one of the Canela social groups. Thus, these divisions in Canela society not only organize people into groups in which they work and socialize together but also, by ensuring that each individual knows many other members of the community, promote social cohesion.” ref

    “Although moieties are often referred to interchangeably with phratries and clans, they are distinct from these phenomena. By definition, phratries comprise groups of related clans and occur in sets of three or more; moieties may, but need not, comprise groups of clans but always occur in pairs. Clans, in turn, emphasize descent from a common ancestor, while members of a moiety regard themselves as related but do not stress common descent to the same extent. Clans function frequently as landholding units and in cooperative economic enterprises; moieties do so rarely. On a worldwide basis, matrilineal moieties (matrimoieties), which trace kinship through the female line, are far more common than patrilineal moieties (patrimoieties). Matrimoieties are generally found in association with smaller kin groups, such as lineages and clans. In all cases—whether the moieties are exogamous or not, unilineal or not, or aligned on the basis of season, geographic position, name bestowal, or other criteria—they serve to divide society into complementary groups that have reciprocal duties and rights, competition, and cooperation.” ref

    In-group and Out-group

    In social psychology and sociology, an in-group is a social group to which a person psychologically identifies as being a member. By contrast, an out-group is a social group with which an individual does not identify. People may, for example, identify with their peer group, family, community, sports team, political party, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or nation. It has been found that the psychological membership of social groups and categories is associated with a wide variety of phenomena. In neurology, there is an established literature about the innate propensity of the human brain to divide the world into us and them valence categories, where the exact membership of the in-group and out-group are socially contingent (hence vulnerable to the instruments of propaganda), and the intensity exists along a spectrum from mild to complete dehumanization of the “othered” group (such as through pseudospeciation).” ref

    “In-group favoritism, refers to the fact that under certain conditions, people will prefer and have affinity for one’s in-group over the out-group, or anyone viewed as outside the in-group. This can be expressed in one’s evaluation of others, linking, allocation of resources, and many other ways. How we perceive the actions of others are also affected by in-group favoritism. People may perceive the same action very differently depending on whether the action was executed by a member of the same group or a member of a different group. In fact, people tend to evaluate actions of their own group or team members much more favorably than those of outgroup members. People have been shown to be differentially influenced by in-group members. That is, under conditions where group categorization is psychologically salient, people will shift their beliefs in line with in-group social norms.” ref

    “An illustrative example of the way this phenomenon takes place can be demonstrated just by arbitrarily assigning a person to a distinct and objectively meaningless novel group; this alone is sufficient to create intergroup biases in which members of the perceiver’s own group are preferentially favored. This phenomenon was demonstrated in an empirical study conducted by Molenberghs and colleagues in 2013. In the study, participants were arbitrarily divided into two teams where they watched videos of individuals of competing teams and individuals from their own team perform hand actions. Participants were then asked to judge the speed of the hand movements. On average participants judged members of their own teams to be faster, although the hand movements were the exact same speed across the board. Similarly, Hastorf and Cantril conducted a pioneering study in 1954, where students of both Princeton and Dartmouth viewed a contentious football game between their two teams. Although they had watched the same motion picture of the game, their versions of what transpired were so starkly different it appeared as though they had watched two totally different games.” ref

    “In evolutionary psychology, in-group favoritism is seen as an evolved mechanism selected for the advantages of coalition affiliation. It has been argued that characteristics such as gender and ethnicity are inflexible or even essential features of such systems. However, there is evidence that elements of favoritism are flexible in that they can be erased by changes in social categorization. One study in the field of behavioural genetics suggests that biological mechanisms may exist which favor a coexistence of both flexible and essentialist systems.” ref


    Tribalism is the state of being organized by, or advocating for, tribes or tribal lifestyles. Human evolution has primarily occurred in small hunter-gatherer groups, as opposed to in larger and more recently settled agricultural societies or civilizations. With a negative connotation and in a political context, tribalism can also mean discriminatory behavior or attitudes towards out-groups, based on in-group loyalty.” ref

    “The word “tribe” can be defined to mean an extended kin group or clan with a common ancestor, or can also be described as a group who share the common interest of mutual survival and preservation of a common culture. The proverb “birds of a feather flock together” describes homophily, the human tendency to form friendship networks with people of similar occupations, interests, and habits. Some tribes can be located in geographically proximate areas, like villages or bands, and although telecommunications in theory could enable groups of people to form tribe-like communities, digital tribes and social networking websites are not quite tribes in that they do not inherently provide the mutual survival of both the individual members of the tribe and for the tribe itself, as tribes do.ref

    “In terms of conformity, the word “tribalism” has been co-opted and stripped of its original meaning, and has been defined as a “subjectivity” or “way of being” social frame in which communities are bound socially beyond immediate birth ties by the dominance of various modalities of face-to-face and object integration. Ontologically, tribalism is oriented around the valences of analogy, genealogy and mythology. That means that customary tribes have their social foundations in some variation of these tribal orientations, while often taking on traditional practices (e.g. Abrahamic religions such as Christianity, Judaism, and Islam), and modern practices, including monetary exchange, mobile communications, and modern education.ref

    “The social structure of a tribe can vary greatly from case to case. The relatively small size of customary tribes results in a social life which usually involve a relatively few significant political or economic distinctions between individuals. As a result, social hierarchy is uncommon, and deep bonds are made between individual members. A tribe often refers to itself using its own language’s word for “people”, and refers to other, neighboring tribes with various words to distinguish them as other. For example, the term “Inuit” translates to “people.ref

    “Tribalism implies the possession of a strong cultural or ethnic identity that separates one member of a group from the members of another group. Based on strong relations of proximity and kinship, as well as relations based on the mutual survival of both the individual members of the tribe and for the tribe itself, members of a tribe tend to possess a strong feeling of identity. Objectively, for a customary tribal society to form there needs to be ongoing customary organization, inquiry, and exchange. However, intense feelings of common identity can lead people to feel tribally connected.ref

    “The distinction between these two definitions of tribalism, objective and subjective, is an important one because while tribal societies have been pushed to the edges of the Western world, tribalism, by the second definition, is arguably undiminished. A few writers have postulated that the human brain is hard-wired towards tribalism, but that claim is usually linked to equating original questions of sociality with tribalism.ref

    Kinship, Nurture kinship, Fictive kinship, and Kin selection

    In anthropologykinship is the web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of all humans in all societies, although its exact meanings even within this discipline are often debated. Anthropologist Robin Fox says that the study of kinship is the study of what humans do with these basic facts of life –matinggestationparenthoodsocializationsiblingship etc. Human society is unique, he argues, in that we are “working with the same raw material as exists in the animal world, but [we] can conceptualize and categorize it to serve social ends.” These social ends include the socialization of children and the formation of basic economic, political, and religious groups.” ref

    Kinship can refer both to the patterns of social relationships themselves, or it can refer to the study of the patterns of social relationships in one or more human cultures (i.e. kinship studies). Over its history, anthropology has developed a number of related concepts and terms in the study of kinship, such as descent, descent group, lineage, affinity/affine, consanguinity/cognate, and fictive kinship. Further, even within these two broad usages of the term, there are different theoretical approaches.ref

    “Broadly, kinship patterns may be considered to include people related by both descent – i.e. social relations during development – and by marriage. Human kinship relations through marriage are commonly called “affinity” in contrast to the relationships that arise in one’s group of origin, which may be called one’s descent group. In some cultures, kinship relationships may be considered to extend out to people an individual has economic or political relationships with, or other forms of social connections. Within a culture, some descent groups may be considered to lead back to gods or animal ancestors (totems). This may be conceived of on a more or less literal basis.ref

    “Kinship can also refer to a principle by which individuals or groups of individuals are organized into social groups, roles, categories, and genealogy by means of kinship terminologies. Family relations can be represented concretely (mother, brother, grandfather) or abstractly by degrees of relationship (kinship distance). A relationship may be relative (e.g. a father in relation to a child) or reflect an absolute (e.g. the difference between a mother and a childless woman). Degrees of relationship are not identical to heirship or legal succession. Many codes of ethics consider the bond of kinship as creating obligations between the related persons stronger than those between strangers, as in Confucian filial piety.ref

    “In a more general sense, kinship may refer to a similarity or affinity between entities on the basis of some or all of their characteristics that are under focus. This may be due to a shared ontological origin, a shared historical or cultural connection, or some other perceived shared features that connect the two entities. For example, a person studying the ontological roots of human languages (etymology) might ask whether there is kinship between the English word seven and the German word sieben. It can be used in a more diffuse sense as in, for example, the news headline “Madonna feels kinship with vilified Wallis Simpson“, to imply a felt similarity or empathy between two or more entities.ref

    “In biology, “kinship” typically refers to the degree of genetic relatedness or the coefficient of relationship between individual members of a species (e.g. as in kin selection theory). It may also be used in this specific sense when applied to human relationships, in which case its meaning is closer to consanguinity or genealogy.ref

    Nurture kinship

    The concept of nurture kinship in the anthropological study of human social relationships (kinship) highlights the extent to which such relationships are brought into being through the performance of various acts of nurture between individuals. Additionally the concept highlights ethnographic findings that, in a wide swath of human societies, people understand, conceptualize and symbolize their relationships predominantly in terms of giving, receiving and sharing nurture. The concept stands in contrast to the earlier anthropological concepts of human kinship relations being fundamentally based on “blood ties”, some other form of shared substance, or a proxy for these (as in fictive kinship), and the accompanying notion that people universally understand their social relationships predominantly in these terms.” ref

    “The nurture kinship perspective on the ontology of social ties, and how people conceptualize them, has become stronger in the wake of David M. Schneider‘s influential Critique of the Study of Kinship and Holland’s subsequent Social Bonding and Nurture Kinship, demonstrating that as well as the ethnographic record, biological theory and evidence also more strongly support the nurture perspective than the blood perspective (see Human inclusive fitness). Both Schneider and Holland argue that the earlier blood theory of kinship derived from an unwarranted extension of symbols and values from anthropologists’ own cultures (see ethnocentrism).” ref

    “Reports of kinship ties being based on various forms of shared nurture date back at least to William Robertson Smith‘s (1889) compiled Lectures on The Religion of the Semites:

    According to antique ideas, those who eat and drink together are by this very act tied to one another by a bond of friendship and mutual obligation… The idea that kinship is not purely an affair of birth, but may be acquired, has quite fallen out of our circle of ideas.” ref 

    “At this stage, Robertson Smith interpreted the kinship ties emerging from the sharing of food as constituting an alternative form of the sharing of substance, aside from the sharing of blood or genetic substance which many anthropologists (e.g. Lewis H. Morgan) assumed was the ‘natural basis’ of social ties. However, later observations focused on the nurturing qualities of food-sharing behavior, allowing a potential distinction between the earlier emphasis on kinship as shared substance (e.g. food or blood) and kinship as performance (of care-giving or nurturing behaviors):

    I want to examine the human relationships of a primitive society as determined by nutritional needs, showing how hunger shapes the sentiments which bind together the members of each social group. By what means is this fundamental biological want fulfilled in a given environment; and what forms of human activities and social groupings are so derived?” ref 

    “Sometimes the line between conceiving of kinship as substance or as nurture is blurred by using both concepts. For example, the substance of food or milk may be conceived as the medium or vehicle through which the nurturing behavior is performed (e.g. Strathern 1973). The notion that it is the nurturing acts themselves that create social ties between people has developed most noticeably since the 1970s:

    The Navajo never mention common substance in finding or invoking kinship ties or norms. Kinship is defined in terms of the acts of giving birth and sharing sustenance. The primary bond in the Navajo kinship system is the mother-child bond, and it is in this bond that the nature and meaning of kinship become clear. In Navajo culture, kinship means intense, diffuse, and enduring solidarity, and this solidarity is realized in actions and behavior befitting the cultural definitions of kinship solidarity. Just as a mother is one who gives life to her children through birth and sustains their life by providing them with loving care, assistance, protection, and sustenance, kinsmen are those who sustain each other’s life by helping one another, protecting one another, and by the giving or sharing of food and other items of subsistence. Where this kind of solidarity exists, kinship exists; where it does not, there is no kinship.” ref

    “The term “nurture kinship” may have been first used in the present context by Watson (1983), who contrasted it with “nature kinship” (kinship concepts built upon shared substance of some kind). Since the 1970s, an increasing number of ethnographies have documented the extent to which social ties in various cultures can be understood to be built upon nurturant acts.” ref

    “Marshall on the Trukese (now known as the Chuukese) of Micronesia:

    All sibling relationships – natural or created – involve the height of sharing and “feelings of strong sentimental attachment.” … In Trukese kinship, actions speak louder than words; ttong must be demonstrated by nurturant acts. Trukese kinship pivots on the fulcrum of nurturance, a fact partially understood by Ruth Goodenough (1970:331) who noted the “intense concentration on problems of nurture – taking care of and being cared for by others” in GTS. Nurture is the nature of Trukese kinship.” ref

    “Gow on the Piro of Amazonia:

    As a child begins to eat real food, and to walk and eventually to talk, its relationship to its parents changes from one in which the parents take care that their physical connection to the body of the child does not harm it, into one in which gifts of food, given out of love for the child, evoke the child’s love for its parents and other kin. Older siblings are very important here. From birth, the baby is frequently picked up and held (marcar, “to hold in the arms”) by its older brothers and sisters. As it learns to walk and talk, its closest physical ties are with such siblings, for they are its constant companions and they eat and sleep together. Such intimate ties with siblings replace the earlier one with parents as the child grows.” ref

    “Thomas on the Temanambondro of Madagascar:

    Yet just as fathers are not simply made by birth, neither are mothers, and although mothers are not made by “custom” they, like fathers, can make themselves through another type of performatively constituted relation, the giving of “nurture”. Relations of ancestry are particularly important in contexts of ritual, inheritance and the defining of marriageability and incest; they are in effect the “structuring structures” (Bourdieu 1977) of social reproduction and intergenerational continuity. Father, mother and children are, however, also performatively related through the giving and receiving of “nurture” (fitezana). Like ancestry, relations of “nurture” do not always coincide with relations by birth; but unlike ancestry, “nurture” is a largely ungendered relation, constituted in contexts of everyday practical existence, in the intimate, familial and familiar world of the household, and in ongoing relations of work and consumption, of feeding and farming.” ref

    “Storrie on the Hoti of Venezuelan Guiana:

    It was my Hoti friends who, through their rejection of my expectations that I would be able to “collect” genealogical information, brought me to the idea that dwelling together and particularly the notions of consumption and ingestion are, for them, fundamental to social identity. Whenever I attempted to discover if there were ideas of genealogical relatedness between kin, I was told that there is nothing that links a parent to their children, or siblings to each other, apart from the bonds of affection and sentiment that they feel for each other. In other words, there is nothing more to “relatedness” than those things that link “all people” together.” ref

    “Viegas on a Bahian Amerindian Community in Brazil:

    Adults who early in their lives had been taken to become raised children [fostered] state clearly that the situation had never displeased them. They maintain that they belong to the woman who cared for or raised them, and it is to her that they want their children to become attached. Although they recognise who their pais legítimos are, it is those who have cared for a person for a longer period of their childhood that are considered mother and father. It is in this sense that kinship is constituted as memory of being related through caring and feeding, along the lines developed in large part by Peter Gow and within other South Amerindian contexts.” ref

    Fictive kinship

    Fictive kinship is a term used by anthropologists and ethnographers to describe forms of kinship or social ties that are based on neither consanguineal (blood ties) nor affinal (“by marriage”) ties. It contrasts with true kinship ties. To the extent that consanguineal and affinal kinship ties might be considered real or true kinship, the term fictive kinship has in the past been used to refer to those kinship ties that are fictional, in the sense of not-real. Invoking the concept as a cross-culturally valid anthropological category therefore rests on the presumption that the inverse category of “(true) kinship” built around consanguinity and affinity is similarly cross-culturally valid. Use of the term was common until the mid-to-late twentieth century, when anthropology effectively deconstructed and revised many of the concepts and categories around the study of kinship and social ties. In particular, anthropologists established that a consanguinity basis for kinship ties is not universal across cultures, and that—on the contrary—it may be a culturally specific symbol of kinship only in particular cultures (see the articles on kinship and David M. Schneider for more information on the history of kinship studies).” ref

    “Stemming from anthropology’s early connections to legal studies, the term fictive kinship may also be used in a legal sense, and this use continues in societies where these categories and definitions regarding kinship and social ties have legal currency; e.g. in matters of inheritance. As part of the deconstruction of kinship mentioned above, anthropologists now recognize that—cross-culturally—the kinds of social ties and relationships formerly treated under the category of “kinship” are often not predicated on blood ties or marriage ties, and may rather be based on shared residence, shared economic ties, nurture kinship, or familiarity via other forms of interaction.” ref

    “In sociology of the family, this idea is referred to as chosen kin, fictive kin, or voluntary kin. Sociologists define the concept as a form of extended family members who are not related by either blood or marriage. The bonds allowing for chosen kinship may include religious rituals, close friendship ties, or other essential reciprocal social or economic relationships. Examples of chosen kin include godparents, adopted children, and close family friends. The idea of fictive kin has been used to analyze aging, foreign fighters, immigrant communities, and minorities in modern societies. Some researchers state that peers have the potential to create fictive kin networks.” ref

    “Types of relations often described by anthropologists as fictive kinship include compadrazgo relations, foster care, common membership in a unilineal descent group, and legal adoption. A noted Gurung tradition is the institution of “Rodi,” where teenagers form fictive kinship bonds and become Rodi members to socialize, perform communal tasks, and find marriage partners. In Western culture, a person may refer to close friends of one’s parents as “aunt” or “uncle” (and their children as “cousin”), or may refer to close friends as “brother” or “sister,” although this is just a mere courtesy treatment and does not represent an actual valuation as such. In particular, college fraternities and sororities in some North American cultures usually use “brother” and “sister” to refer to members of the organization. Monastic, Masonic, and Lodge organisations also use the term “Brother” for members.” ref

    “Nursing Sister” is used to denote a rank of nurse, and the term “Sisterhood” may be used for feminists. Fictive kinship was discussed by Jenny White in her work on female migrant workers in Istanbul. In her work, she draws on ideas of production and the women she works with being drawn together through “webs of indebtedness” through which the women refer to each other as kin. These relationships are, however, less frequent than kin relationships, and serve purposes that are neither comparable to nor exclude a natural family.” ref

    Kin selection

    Kin selection is a process whereby natural selection favours a trait due to its positive effects on the reproductive success of an organism’s relatives, even when at a cost to the organism’s own survival and reproduction. Kin selection can lead to the evolution of altruistic behaviour. It is related to inclusive fitness, which combines the number of offspring produced with the number an individual can ensure the production of by supporting others (weighted by the relatedness between individuals). A broader definition of kin selection includes selection acting on interactions between individuals who share a gene of interest even if the gene is not shared due to common ancestry. Kin selection is contrasted with group selection, according to which a genetic trait can become prevalent within a group because it benefits the group as a whole, regardless of any benefit to individual organisms.” ref

    “According to Hamilton’s rule, kin selection causes genes to increase in frequency when the genetic relatedness of a recipient to an actor multiplied by the benefit to the recipient is greater than the reproductive cost to the actor. Hamilton proposed two mechanisms for kin selection. First, kin recognition allows individuals to be able to identify their relatives. Second, in viscous populations, populations in which the movement of organisms from their place of birth is relatively slow, local interactions tend to be among relatives by default. The viscous population mechanism makes kin selection and social cooperation possible in the absence of kin recognition.ref

    “In this case, nurture kinship, the interaction between related individuals, simply as a result of living in each other’s proximity, is sufficient for kin selection, given reasonable assumptions about population dispersal rates. Note that kin selection is not the same thing as group selection, where natural selection is believed to act on the group as a whole. In humans, altruism is both more likely and on a larger scale with kin than with unrelated individuals; for example, humans give presents according to how closely related they are to the recipient. In other species, vervet monkeys use allomothering, where related females such as older sisters or grandmothers often care for young, according to their relatedness. The social shrimp Synalpheus regalis protects juveniles within highly related colonies.ref

    Indigenous peoples of Siberia

    Siberia is a vast region spanning the northern part of the Asian continent and forming the Asiatic portion of Russia. About 5% of the total Siberian population (about 1.6–1.8 million), some of which are closely genetically related to Indigenous peoples of the Americas.” ref

    “Languages: AinuChukotko-KamchatkanMongolicNivkhTungusicTurkicUralicYeniseian (Ket) and Yukaghir languages. Ainu languages are spoken on SakhalinHokkaido, the Kurils, and on the Kamchatka Peninsula, as well as in the Amur region. Today, Ainu is nearly extinct, with the last native speakers remaining in Hokkaido and on Kamchatka. Religion: Siberian ShamanismTengrismTibetan BuddhismRussian Orthodox Christianity, and Islam.” ref

    “Four small language families and isolates, not known to have any linguistic relationship to each other, compose the Paleo-Siberian languages:


    1. The Chukotko-Kamchatkan family, sometimes known as Luoravetlan, includes Chukchi and its close relatives, Koryak, Alutor, and Kerek. Itelmen, also known as Kamchadal, is also distantly related. Chukchi, Koryak and Alutor are spoken in easternmost Siberia by communities numbering in the dozens (Alutor) to thousands (Chukchi). Kerek is now extinct, and Itelmen is now spoken by fewer than 10 people, mostly elderly, on the west coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula.


    2. Nivkh is spoken in the lower Amur basin and on the northern half of Sakhalin island. It has a recent modern literature, and the Nivkhs have experienced a turbulent history in the last century.


    3. Ket is the last survivor of the Yeniseian family along the middle of the Yenisei River and its tributaries. It has recently been claimed  to be related to the Na-Dene languages of North America, though this hypothesis has met with mixed reviews among historical linguists. In the past, attempts have been made to relate it to Sino-Tibetan, North Caucasian, and Burushaski.


    4. Yukaghir is spoken in two mutually unintelligible varieties in the lower Kolyma and Indigirka valleys. Other languages, including Chuvantsy, spoken further inland and further east, are now extinct. Yukaghir is held by some to be related to the Uralic languages.ref

    “Chukchi, people inhabiting the northeasternmost part of Siberia, the Chukotskiy (Chukotka) autonomous okrug (district) in Russia. They numbered 14,000 in the late 20th century and are divided into two chief subgroups, reindeer Chukchi and maritime ChukchiThe reindeer Chukchi inhabit the interior of the easternmost portion of the okrug, the Chukotskiy (Chukchi) Peninsula, and its Siberian hinterland; the maritime Chukchi inhabit the Arctic and Bering coasts. Both speak a Luorawetlan language of the Paleosiberian language group and are linguistically and culturally related to the Koryak and Itelmen (Kamchadal). The reindeer Chukchi formerly lived mainly off of domesticated herds of reindeer. These herds supplied them with means of transport, milk, and meat for food, and pelts for clothing and shelter. The maritime Chukchi lived by hunting Arctic sea mammals, chiefly walrus, seals, and whales, and by fishing.ref

    Nivkh, east Siberian people who live in the region of the Amur River estuary and on nearby Sakhalin Island. They numbered about 4,600 in the late 20th century. Most speak Russian, though about 10 percent still speak Nivkh, a Paleo-Siberian language unaffiliated apparently with any other language. Their name for themselves, Nivkh, means “human.” The Nivkh were divided into exogamous clans. Clan members had mutual duties in payment of blood moneybride-price, and burial expenses; they observed a common cult that included the organization of a clan bear festival, usually held in honor of a dead clan kinsman.” ref

    “The Nivkh, or Gilyak are an Indigenous ethnic group inhabiting the northern half of Sakhalin Island and the lower Amur River and coast on the adjacent Russian mainland. Historically, they may have inhabited parts of Manchuria. Nivkh (plural Nivkhgu in the Nivkh language), an endonym, means “person” in the Nivkh language. The origins of the Nivkh are hard to discern from current archaeological research. Their subsistence by fishing and coastal sea-mammal hunting is very similar to the Koryak and Itelmen on the Kamchatka Peninsula. The rigging of dog-sledges is also similar to these Chukotko-Kamchatkan groups. Spiritual beliefs are similar to those of the Northwest Coast Indians of North America, whose ancestors migrated from this area.” ref

    “In the past, Ket society was apparently comprised of localized patrilineal clans grouped into exogamous phratries. Each clan had defined sacred places and cemeteries; shamans and elders provided leadership. Property marks defined clan lands and goods. Inheritance, strictly patrilineal, usually ultimogenous, was symbolized by family fetishes ( alali). Summer households were usually nuclear families; winter households were extended. Prolonged Russification and migration have profoundly modified Ket society, so today, there are primary terms (mother, father, brother, sister), descriptive terms (mother’s brother, etc.), and classificatory terms (persons of grandparental generation without distinction for gender or line of descent, etc.). Within generations, relatives older than Ego are upgraded; those younger are downgraded.” ref

    Kets are a Yeniseian-speaking people in Siberia, they lived in the middle and lower basin of the Yenisei River in the Krasnoyarsk Krai district of RussiaThe Ket people share their origin with other Yeniseian people and are closely related to other Indigenous people of Siberia and Indigenous peoples of the Americas. They belong mostly to Y-DNA haplogroup Q-M242According to a 2016 study, the Ket and other Yeniseian people likely originated somewhere near the Altai Mountains or near Lake Baikal. It is suggested that parts of the Altaians are predominantly of Yeniseian origin and closely related to the Ket people. The Ket people are also closely related to several Native American groups. According to this study, the Yeniseians are linked to the Paleo-Eskimo groups.” ref

    “The Kets are thought to be the only survivors of an ancient nomadic people believed to have originally inhabited central and southern Siberia. The Ket was incorporated into the Russian state in the 17th century. Their efforts to resist were unsuccessful as the Russians deported them to different places in an attempt to break up their resistance. This broke up their strictly organized patriarchal social system and their way of life disintegrated. The Ket language has been linked to the Na-Dené languages of North America in the Dené–Yeniseian language family. This link has led to some collaboration between the Ket and northern Athabaskan peoples. Ket means “man” (plural deng “men, people”). The Kets have a rich and varied culture, filled with an abundance of Siberian mythology, including shamanistic practices and oral traditions.” ref

    Vyacheslav Ivanov and Vladimir Toporov compared Ket mythology with those of speakers of Uralic languages, assuming in the studies that they are modeling semiotic systems in the compared mythologies. They have also made typological comparisons. Among other comparisons, possibly from Uralic mythological analogies, the mythologies of Ob-Ugric peoples and Samoyedic peoples are mentioned. Other authors have discussed analogies (similar folklore motifs, purely typological considerations, and certain binary pairs in symbolics) may be related to a dualistic organization of society – some dualistic features can be found in comparisons with these peoples. There are some reports of a division into two exogamous patrilinear moieties, folklore on conflicts of mythological figures, and cooperation of two beings in the creation of the land, the motif of the earth-diver. This motif is present in several cultures in different variants.” ref

    “The Northern Yukaghir were patrilocal (centred on the male’s family) while the Southern Yukaghir were matrilocal. Inheritance in both groups was patrilineal. Small family groups were generally organized into clans. Each clan was guided in matters of food provision and clan defense by an able adult male. Although the Yukaghir were Christianized in the 18th century, they retained many traditional beliefs, including the practice of shamanism.” ref

    “The Yukaghirs, or Yukagirs (Northern Yukaghir), are a Siberian ethnic group in the Russian Far East, living in the basin of the Kolyma River. Genetically, Yukaghirs exhibit roughly equal frequencies of the Y-DNA haplogroups N1cQ1, and C2 (formerly C3). According to another study, out of 11 Yukaghir males 3 turned out to belong to the Y-haplogroup N1c (different subclade from the one found in Yakuts), another 4 – to the Y-haplogroup C2 (former C3; for the most part, the same subclade that’s also found in Koryaks), one more – to the Y-haplogroup O, and the rest 3 exhibit apparent Russian genetic influence (two individuals belonging to the Y-haplogroup R1a, and one more – to the Y-haplogroup I2a). The study also found no similarities between Yukaghirs and Chukchis in regards to mitochondrial DNA.  Horses are known among the Yukaghir as “domestic reindeer of Yakuts” (Yoqod ile in Tundra Yukaghir or Yaqad āçə in Kolyma Yukaghir). A Yukaghir house is called a chum.” ref

    “Modern Yukaghirs are thought to be descendants of the late Neolithic Ymyyakhtakh culture. The surviving three tribes are the Odul of Nelemnoe, the Vadul of Andryushkino and the Chuvan of the Anadyr river area. The Yukaghir are one of the oldest peoples in North-Eastern Asia. Originally they lived over a huge territory from Lake Baikal to the Arctic Ocean. By the time of the first encounter with Russians, Yukaghir were divided into twelve tribes. The head of every clan was an elder called a Ligey Shomorokh. His was the final word in all aspects of life. Hunting leaders were Khangitche, and war leaders were Tonbaia Shomorokh (“the mighty man”). Women and teenagers had equal voices with men. The internal life of the community was under the control of the older women. Their decisions in those matters were indisputable. In the beginning of every summer all clans gathered for the Sakhadzibe festival, where mutual Yukaghir questions were discussed. In the Yakut-Sakha Republic there are three nomadic extended family communities.ref 

    “The dominant cults are ancestral spirits, the spirits of Fire, Sun (Pugu), Hunting, Earth, and Water, which can act as protectors or as enemies of people. The most important is the cult of Pugu, the Sun, who is the highest judge in all disputes. The spirits of the dead go to a place called Aibidzi. Every clan had a shaman called an alma. After death every alma was treated as a deity, and the body of the dead alma was dismembered and kept by the clan as relics. The Yukaghir still continue traditions stemming from their origins as nomadic reindeer-hunters: they practice dog sacrifice and have an epic poem based around crows. The animal cult was especially strong in the elk cult. There was a number of rituals and taboos connected with elk and deer hunting.” ref

    “The Koryak are a small indigenous group of people who live in the northern part of the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East. The Koryak are divided into two distinct clans. One group live on the coast and make their living by fishing and taking marine animals like seals, walruses and small whales. Koryaks travel in family bands of six to nine individuals. The head of the band makes decisions with the consent of the rest of the family. They live in settled villages. The men are frequently gone on fishing and hunting trips. Women gather berries and roots in the short summers to supplement their diet of meat and fat. Other Koryak live in the interior of Kamchatka Peninsula and follow their herds of reindeer throughout the year. May native Siberian languages have become extinct as more people become “Russified.” ref

    “The Koryaks are natives of Kamchatka. The coastal tribes are considered to be the direct descendants of the Neolithic people, but the origin of the northern reindeer herders is more obscure. Their assumed Koryak origin has a considerable later Even influence. For centuries the Koryaks have reared reindeer and gone fishing, they have traded and been friendly or at war with the Chukchis, Itelmens, and Evens.” ref

    Koryaks are an Indigenous people of the Russian Far East, who live immediately north of the Kamchatka Peninsula in Kamchatka Krai and inhabit the coastlands of the Bering SeaThe Koryaks are culturally similar to the Chukchis of extreme northeast Siberia. The Koryak language and Alutor (which is often regarded as a dialect of Koryak), are linguistically close to the Chukchi language. All of these languages are members of the Chukotko-Kamchatkan language family. They are more distantly related to the Itelmens on the Kamchatka Peninsula. All of these peoples and other, unrelated minorities in and around Kamchatka are known collectively as Kamchadals.

    “Neighbors of the Koryaks include the Evens to the west, the Alutor to the south (on the isthmus of Kamchatka Peninsula), the Kerek to the east, and the Chukchi to the northeast. The Koryak are typically split into two groups. The coastal people are called Nemelan (or Nymylan) meaning ‘village dwellers’, due to their living in villages. The inland Koryak, reindeer herders, are called Chaucu (or Chauchuven), meaning ‘rich in reindeer’. They are more nomadic, following the herds as they graze with the seasons. The origin of the Koryak is unknown. Anthropologists have speculated that a land bridge connected the Eurasian and North American continent during Late Pleistocene. It is possible that migratory peoples crossed the modern-day Koryak land en route to North America. Scientists have suggested that people traveled back and forth between this area and Haida Gwaii before the ice age receded. Haida Gwaii (literally “Islands of the Haida people“), also known as the Queen Charlotte Islands, off the northern Pacific coast of Canada. They theorize that the ancestors of the Koryak had returned to Siberian Asia from North America during this time. Cultural and some linguistic similarity exist between the Nivkh and the Koryak.” ref, ref

    Families usually gathered into groups of six or seven, forming bands. The nominal chief had no predominating authority, and the groups relied on consensus to make decisions, resembling common small-group egalitarianism.” ref

    “Koryaks believe in a Supreme Being whom they call by various names: ŋajŋənen (Universe/World), ineɣitelʔən (Supervisor), ɣət͡ɕɣoletənvəlʔən (Master-of-the-Upper-World), ɣət͡ɕɣolʔən (One-on-High), etc. He is considered to reside in Heaven with his family and when he wishes to punish mankind for immoral acts, he falls asleep and thus leaves man vulnerable to unsuccessful hunting and other ills. Koryak mythology centers on the supernatural shaman Quikil (Big-Raven), who was created by the Supreme Being as the first man and protector of the Koryak. Big Raven myths are also found in Southeast Alaska in the Tlingit culture, and among the HaidaTsimshian, and other natives of the Pacific Northwest Coast Amerindians.” ref

    Evenk, the most numerous and widely scattered of the many small ethnic groups of northern Siberia (Asian Russia). The Evenk traditionally were organized in clans tracing their descent along paternal lines. The members of a clan had a communal fire and invoked common ancestor spirits in their prayers. Each clan was led by an assembly of elders, including the clan shaman (whose duties included healing the sick, traveling in the spirit world, and prophesying). Notably, the word shaman is itself an Evenk word.” ref

    “The Evenks (also spelled Ewenki or Evenki based on their endonym Ewenkī(l)) are a Tungusic people of North Asia. The native land of the majority of Evenki people is in the vast regions of Siberia between Lake Baikal and the Amur River. The Evenki language forms the northern branch of the Manchu-Tungusic language group and is closely related to Even and Negidal in Siberia. The ancestors of the south-eastern Evenks most likely lived in the Baikal region of Southern Siberia (near the modern-day Mongolian border) since the Neolithic era. From Lake Baikal, “they spread to the Amur and Okhotsk Sea…the Lena Basin…and the Yenisey Basin.” Prior to contact with the Russians, the belief system of the Evenks was animisticThe Evenki people also spoke along the same lines: their respect for nature and their belief that nature is a living being. This idea, “[t]he embodiment, animation, and personification of nature—what is still called the animistic worldview—is the key component of the traditional worldview of hunter-gatherers.” ref

    The religious beliefs and practices of the Evenks are of great historical interest since they retain some archaic forms of belief. Among the most ancient ideas are spiritualization and personification of all natural phenomena, belief in an upper, middle, and lower world, belief in the soul (omi), and certain totemistic concepts. There were also various magical rituals associated with hunting and guarding herds. Later on, these rituals were conducted by shamans. Shamanism brought about the development of the views of spirit-masters. 40 percent of Evenki men carry haplogroup C-M217. Their second most common Y-DNA haplogroup is N (34 %). 18 percent belong to its subgroup N1b-P43 and 16 percent belong to subgroup N1c. Other paternal haplogroups found among them are R1a (14 %), R1b (6 %), F (4 %) and I (2 %).” ref

    The art on top is related to “art” of the Chief of the Coosa Indians

    The Coosa Chiefdom was a series of seven or eight villages centered along the Coosawattee River in Georgia, and dominating several other smaller chiefdoms along the southern Appalachians in what is today northeast Tennessee, northwest Georgia, and northeast Alabama. The capital, Coosa, featured a three-platform mound, a large plaza, and numerous home dwellings. Most villages consisted solely of home dwellings and farming areas. The whole of the Coosa Chiefdom population is estimated to have been approximately 50,00 people. Prior to the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors Hernando de Soto (1539-1541) and Tristan de Luna (1560), the Coosa had contact with and traded with other Mississippian cultures. These contacts led to exchanges of ideas, technologies, and styles, as evidenced by three distinct style variations found in pottery and artifacts discovered in archaeological excavations.” ref

    Cahokia “Mound-Building” Culture

    highly integrated Cahokia chiefdom

    The central issue behind archaeological debates on the Mississippian Period of the American Bottom for the last 30 years is just how powerful and complex was the Cahokia chiefdom. Some archaeologists divide Mississippian settlements into a hierarchy ranging from urban centers (Cahokia), to large towns with mounds (mound-towns like Mitchell and Lunsford-Pulcher), to groupings of a moderate number of houses with one mound (single mound villages), to groupings of a moderate number of houses without any mounds (villages), to settlements comprised of just a few households (hamlets), and to single, isolated individual houses (the farmstead).” ref

    “In this view, Cahokia was a stable complex chiefdom that exercised enormous influence not only over groups in the American Bottom, but also over peoples throughout eastern North America. Evidence cited for this interpretation includes (a) a four-tier or more settlement pattern with settlements of varying size and internal complexity, (b) a planned mound center layout including open plazas, (c) a large urban population, (d) extensive trade throughout eastern North America, and (e) widespread commonality in religious symbolism in the eastern U.S. (the so-called Southeastern Ceremonial Complex). Some have even argued on the basis of these data that Mississippian Cahokia was so integrated that it attained a quasi-state level of social organization, much like the pre-Columbian states of the Aztecs, Toltecs, and Mayans of Mexico and Central America.” ref

    “Recently, however, other scholars have argued that an all-powerful Cahokia of quasi-state-like status with far-reaching influence is questionable because it “stretches” the available archaeological data. To be sure, this conservative view agrees that Cahokia was the center of a complex Mississippian chiefdom, undoubtedly the most densely populated, politically powerful, and religiously important in this stretch of the Mississippi River valley. What many take issue with is the stability of the socio-political system and the level of control and influence that the Cahokia elite were able to exercise over people within and far removed from the American Bottom. In this view, other towns with mounds and associated smaller communities represent largely self-sufficient and autonomous chiefdoms that were not immediately responsive to every whim of the Cahokia elite.” ref

    “Accordingly, the political and social landscape of the American Bottom is believed to have been segmented into a series of separate districts, each led by a chief highly. Relations among them were highly competitive and volatile. As the power of quasi-autonomous chiefs waxed and waned, so too did their threat to, or support of, the paramount chief at Cahokia. Thus, the stability and cohesion of the Cahokia-dominated regional chiefdom varied over time. Furthermore, according to this interpretation of the archaeological evidence, while Mississippians of the American Bottom certainly interacted with various other cultures throughout eastern North America, their influence in these distant places was quite limited and often indirect.” ref

    Mississippian “Mound-Builder” Culture System

    “The Mississippian System is widely recognized as having emerged between 750 and 1000 CE and to have flourished over the next five to seven centuries. Comprising a network of relatively autonomous social groups or cultures, in the centuries immediately before and concurrent with European contact, the “core” of the Mississippian System was centered in the American Bottom near present-day Cahokia, Illinois. It encompassed most of the southeastern region of North America and occupied much of the region, encompassing the Mississippi, Ohio, and Tennessee river valleys. Integrated into a complex economic, political, and social system, the Mississippians engaged in common exchange involving essential food-stuff, information, prestige-goods, and complex political and military alliances.” ref

    “There is a general consensus among scholars that the Mississippian system, particularly its core region, had begun to disintegrate sometime between 1300 and 1500 CE, possibly from sustained warfare, unsustainable population growth, relocation of population because of excessive demands by Cahokian elites, demographic changes caused by over-dependence on corn and the depletion of the soil, increased self-sufficiency in the peripheral areas, or the normal cycling between complex and simple chiefdoms that Anderson argues happens when systems fail to “evolve more efficient higher-level regulatory or control units.” However, there is considerable support for Lewis’s assertion that the centuries between 1300 and 1700 CE “marked the greatest social complexity of Mississippian groups” in the region surrounding the confluence of the Mississippi, Ohio, and Tennessee rivers and was apparent to European explorers upon their travels through the deep South in the sixteenth century. For instance, Spanish historian Pietro Martiere d’Anghiera, who traveled through the southern Appalachian area in 1521 with the de Ayllon caravel, described a single “ranked, hierarchical society with settlements over large areas owing allegiance and tribute to specific communities and leaders.” ref

    “Members of the DeSoto expedition similarly noted in the 1530s the presence throughout the region of a distinct pattern of ceremonial temples and burial sites that were likely cultural remnants of earlier interconnected and ranked social groups or societies. Furthermore, Hudson provides evidence that the system continued to flourish along the eastern lowlands as late as 1566 CE when the Juan Pardo expeditions passed through the area. What Peregrine calls the Mississippian System was characterized by, among other things, the construction of ceremonial mounds and the organized production of maize, beans, and squash. This transformation allowed the emergence of a horticultural economy based largely on an increase in population, the organized production of corn, the emergence of a surplus, and an elaborate trade network. Additionally, the system was notably hierarchical with a complex network of powerful leaders who became linked together into a “pan-Mississippian web of competition for access to prestige-goods.” The southeast-ern groups were characterized by intraregional complex chiefdoms co-resident alongside less centrally organized social groups—“core-periphery differentiation without much evidence of core-periphery domination.” For instance, de Soto’s journal describes “an elaborate social organization where chiefs lived in sacred buildings, manipulated social networks covering large territories, and held the power of life or death over their subjects.” ref

    “Although Hudson argues that the Mississippian system was not so much a “culture” as a fundamental economic and social system that was transformed from the earlier Woodland tradition and was “marked by a pervasive and progressive sameness among Indians over a large area of the Southeast,” there is considerable evidence that a number of cultural variations made in the Mississippian System originally emanating from the ‘core’ or center had first been developed at Cahokia. The primary focus of the current research is on the Middle and South Appalachian Mississippians. The Middle Mississippian core region has been described as a ‘true Mississippian Culture’ of rulers, craft specialists, merchants, warriors, and other elites who from the central towns exercised control over the residents of surrounding farmsteads and villages. The culture was distinguished by “a more intensive and formal network of inter-regional trade, and perhaps a greater degree of political centralization (and perhaps ascribed positions of authority) than other Mississippian variants.” ref

    ” It was also distinguished by the goods produced—unique pots and ceramic vessels, feathered ceremonial cloaks, and the like, created by craft specialists hired by the chief. This helped him maintain authority and legitimacy and to help seal the patron-client relationship that appears to have been the primary stabilizing factor in their world. By 1100 CE the Middle Mississippian culture had encompassed the central Mississippi River valley, and the lower Ohio and Tennessee river valleys; and it had spread eastward across the Appalachian mountain chain and included middle and eastern Tennessee, northern Mississippi, Alabama, and the northwestern corner of Georgia. The system included the paramount chiefdom located at the large population center at Cahokia and the complex chiefdom at Moundville, in what is now central Alabama.” ref

    “The South Appalachian Mississippian culture groups were dispersed across the area south and east of the Appalachians. The population included organized and interrelated social groups in south Alabama, north Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas. The variant of culture in this area differed in a number of ways from the Middle Mississippian groups. In particular, the South Appalachian groups were characterized by a less centralized political organization, and their political and social leaders attained their positions because of their achievements rather than by way of a system of ascribed social and political ranking. Hudson suggests that the South Appalachian groups may have, in fact, been part of “a local Woodland culture which was modified by borrowing from the Mississippian culture to the west.” This has led Hudson to propose further that these migrants may well have become more centralized and joined the Mississippian system as a defense against encroaching populations, who possibly had migrated outward from the Cahokian center while it was still dominant until its collapse began around 1300 CE.” ref

    “The manner in which the Mississippian System was first incorporated into the world economy established in the formerly external territory a variety of new capitalistic social, economic, and political structures, which arguably conditioned the development of the region for centuries to come. Basing my analysis on an extensive critical examination of published historical and archaeological research, I explore these unique political and economic structures that were in place prior to contact and how they may have influenced and were influenced by the incorporation of the region and its people into the world system.” ref

    “The Mississippian system was organized around a hierarchical network of chiefdoms, some simple, others complex, with a few paramount chiefdoms, and progression from one level to another was distinguished by the increasing number of levels involved in the group’s decision-making processes. Simple Mississippian chiefdoms exercised authority and administrative control over a relatively small area that was comprised of perhaps a small village or some number of farmsteads surrounded by uninhabited buffer zones.” ref

    “These social formations differed in a number of ways from complex chiefdoms, which emerged when a powerful chief ’s sphere of authority expanded sufficiently so that he or she came to exercise direct or indirect control over one or more other simple chiefdoms. Paramount chiefs enjoyed power sometimes over several complex chief-doms and possibly some number of simple chiefdoms at the same time. The leaders of these chiefdoms enjoyed control that was “one or two administrative levels above the local community.” Furthermore, the relations between simple, complex, and paramount chiefdoms were decidedly hierarchical in nature and involved the payment of tribute (e.g. corn, preferred selections of deer meat, etc.) by the local community to those above it in the hierarchy and the distribution of exotic status markers to secondary mound sites in order to secure regional status positions.” ref

    “The mound sites that adjoined the population centers appear to have been largely ceremonial, administrative, or religious in nature. However, Johnson contends that “the common folk may have gotten more than religious advice and alliances from the elites, for there is some evidence…that corn was stockpiled at the major centers presumably to carry the general populace through years of bad crops.” Barker argues that such hoarding was more than likely used to foster a system for the legitimacy of elites and solidarity between them and the commoners. There is also support for the idea that it may have lessened intertribal conflict during lean times. In fact, Milner, Anderson, and Smith argue that the system mediated local conflict in a number of ways. In parts of the system—and this appears to have been particularly true in the South Appalachian area—complex chiefdoms may have emerged as a way of combining defensive forces against common enemies, perhaps other but stronger Mississippians.” ref

    “Whereas a purely kin-based system would have been characterized by status differences related to kinship, the Mississippian system differed in that the hierarchical class structure and status groups were almost certainly important in structuring local relations of social control. Consequently, it has been argued that the Mississippians could reasonably be identified as the beginning of a class system that might, if left uninterrupted, have led to the development of a state mechanism. In the Mississippian culture, paramount chiefs also exercised ceremonial, political, economic, and administrative control over villages that were often separated by great distances. As an example, the Coosas of Georgia dominated and exacted tribute from less-powerful bands throughout eastern Tennessee, northeastern Alabama, and northern Georgia. The Lady of Cofitachequi in what is now South Carolina exercised authority over a dozen or more lesser chiefdoms located from the coast far into the Blue Ridge mountains. The archaeological evidence suggests that these relationships were cemented with trade and social relations between remote local chiefdoms and powerful paramount chiefdoms which involved payment of tribute, ‘down-the-line’ exchange, and powerful ideology necessary to subordinate and secure the allegiance of lesser and often distant chiefs.” ref

    “This also may well have been the case with mortuary rituals and other burial practices performed throughout the system and associated with the ceremonial mounds for which Mississippian settlements are noted. There is a good deal of evidence that elites controlled the production of unique and elaborate trade goods, such as clay pots, shell-tempered pottery, decorated vessels, flint blades, axes, and beads made from sea shells that had been collected more than a thousand miles away. Additionally, they controlled exchange relations, information, and political alliances. For instance, they incorporated external groups into their sphere of influence, possibly by accommodating groups seeking to strengthen their own positions or perhaps by imposing those relationships on them. Hierarchical classes and status groups were central to the expansion of the system and, typically, are important to the incorporation into its network of political, economic, and social relations of remote “external” regions. This is particularly important because expansion was so critical to meeting the need to increase productive capacity.” ref

    “Kowalewski contends that the “link between interregional diplomatic-military activity, basic production, and regional and local settlement patterns is an obvious way for large-scale interactions to structure behavior at the local and household levels.” The resettlement of Mississippian population groups into more remote areas was clearly one-way productive capacity could have been increased and appropriated by core powers. Importantly, the folklore of a number of southeastern indigenous groups would appear to support the notion that the composition of many of the southeastern culture groups had been the result of migrations into the area. For instance, Cotterill contends that the historic group known as the Catawbas, who claimed as their territory much of what is now South Carolina, believed that they had migrated from the neighborhood of the Great Lakes in some remote past. Likewise, the Cherokee share a similar story of their origins that places their ancestral roots in the same general area. It is reasonable to attribute such relocations to depopulation that resulted from the transoceanic diffusion of diseases, the ravages of assault and warfare, and the capture, enslavement, and export of large portions of the population.” ref

    The Cahokia Mounds Site

    “The Cahokia Mounds Site is the site of a pre-Columbian Native American city (which existed c. 1050–1350 CE) directly across the Mississippi River from present-day St. Louis, Missouri. This historic park lies in south-western Illinois between East St. Louis and Collinsville. The park covers 2,200 acres (890 ha), or about 3.5 square miles (9 km2), and contains about 80 manmade mounds, but the ancient city was much larger. At its apex around 1100 CE, the city covered about 6 square miles (16 km2), included about 120 earthworks in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and functions, and had a population of between 15,000 and 20,000 people. Cahokia was the largest and most influential urban settlement of the Mississippian culture, which developed advanced societies across much of what is now the Central and the Southeastern United States, beginning more than 1,000 years before European contact. Today, the Cahokia Mounds are considered to be the largest and most complex archaeological site north of the great pre-Columbian cities in Mexico.” ref

    “Although some evidence exists of occupation during the Late Archaic period (around 1200 BCE) in and around the site, Cahokia as it is now defined was settled around 600 CE during the Late Woodland period. Mound building at this location began with the emergent Mississippian cultural period, around the 9th century CE. The inhabitants left no written records beyond symbols on pottery, shell, copper, wood, and stone, but the elaborately planned community, woodhenge, mounds, and burials reveal a complex and sophisticated society. The city’s complex construction of earthen mounds required digging, excavation and transportation by hand using woven baskets. Construction made use of 55 million cubic feet (1.6 million cubic meters) of earth, and much of the work was accomplished over decades. Its highly planned large, smoothed-flat, ceremonial plazas, sited around the mounds, with homes for thousands connected by laid out pathways and courtyards, suggest the location served as a central religious pilgrimage city.ref

    “The city’s original name is unknown. The mounds were later named after the Cahokia tribe, a historic Illiniwek people living in the area when the first French explorers arrived in the 17th century. As this was centuries after Cahokia was abandoned by its original inhabitants, the Cahokia tribe was not necessarily descended from the earlier Mississippian-era people. Most likely, multiple indigenous ethnic groups settled in the Cahokia Mounds area during the time of the city’s apex. Historian Daniel Richter notes that the apex of the city occurred during the Medieval Warming Period. This period appears to have fostered an agricultural revolution in upper North America, as the three-fold crops of maize, beans (legumes), and gourds (squash) were developed and adapted or bred to the temperate climates of the north from their origins in Mesoamerica. Richter also notes that Cahokia’s advanced development coincided with the development in the Southwest of the Chaco Canyon society, which also produced large-scale works in an apparent socially stratified society. The decline of the city coincides with the Little Ice Age, although by then, the three-fold agriculture remained well-established throughout temperate North America.ref

    “Cahokia became the most important center for the Mississippian culture. This culture was expressed in settlements that ranged along major waterways across what is now the Midwest, Eastern, and Southeastern United States. Cahokia was located in a strategic position near the confluence of the Mississippi, Missouri, and Illinois rivers. It maintained trade links with communities as far away as the Great Lakes to the north and the Gulf Coast to the south, trading in such exotic items as copper, Mill Creek chert, and whelk shells. Mill Creek chert, most notably, was used in the production of hoes, a high demand tool for farmers around Cahokia and other Mississippian centers. Cahokia’s control of the manufacture and distribution of these hand tools was an important economic activity that allowed the city to thrive. Mississippian culture pottery and stone tools in the Cahokian style were found at the Silvernale site near Red Wing, Minnesota, and materials and trade goods from Pennsylvania, the Gulf Coast, and Lake Superior have been excavated at Cahokia.ref

    “At the high point of its development, Cahokia was the largest urban center north of the great Mesoamerican cities in Mexico and Central America. Home to about 1,000 people before circa 1050, its population grew rapidly after that date. According to a 2007 study in Quaternary Science Reviews, “Between CE 1050 and 1100, Cahokia’s population increased from between 1,400 and 2,800 people to between 10,200 and 15,300 people”, an estimate that applies only to a 1.8-square-kilometre (0.69 sq mi) high-density central occupation area. Archaeologists estimate the city’s population at between 6,000 and 40,000 at its peak, with more people living in outlying farming villages that supplied the main urban center. As a result of archeological excavations in the early 21st century, new residential areas were found to the west of Cahokia; this discovery increased estimates of historic area population. If the highest population estimates are correct, Cahokia was larger than any subsequent city in the United States until the 1780s, when Philadelphia’s population grew beyond 40,000. Its population may have been larger than contemporaneous London and Paris.ref

    “One of the major problems that large centers like Cahokia faced was keeping a steady supply of food. A related problem was waste disposal for the dense population, and Cahokia is believed to have become unhealthy from polluted waterways. Because it was such an unhealthy place to live, Snow believes that the town had to rely on social and political attractions to bring in a steady supply of new immigrants; otherwise, the town’s death rate would have caused it to be abandoned earlier. The population of Cahokia began to decline during the 13th century, and the site was abandoned by around 1350. Scholars have proposed environmental factors, such as environmental degradation through overhunting, deforestation and pollution, and climatic changes, such as increased flooding and droughts, as explanations for abandonment of the site. However, more recent research suggests that there is no evidence of human-caused erosion or flooding at Cahokia.ref

    “Political and economic problems may also have contributed to the community’s decline. It is likely that social and environmental factors combined to produce the conditions that led people to leave Cahokia. Another possible cause is invasion by outside peoples, though the only evidence of warfare found is the defensive wooden stockade and watchtowers that enclosed Cahokia’s main ceremonial precinct. There is no other evidence for warfare, so the palisade may have been more for ritual or formal separation than for military purposes. Diseases transmitted among the large, dense urban population are another possible cause of decline. Many theories since the late 20th century propose conquest-induced political collapse as the primary reason for Cahokia’s abandonment.ref

    “Together with these factors, researchers found evidence in 2015 of major floods at Cahokia, so severe as to flood dwelling places. Analysis of sediment from beneath Horseshoe Lake has revealed that two major floods occurred in the period of settlement at Cahokia, in roughly 1100–1260 and 1340–1460. While flooding may have occurred early in the rise of the city, it seems not to have deterred the city builders; to the contrary, it appears they took steps such as creating channels, dikes, and levees that protected at least the central city throughout its inhabited history. Archeologists discovered evidence in 2020 that there was a population rebound following Cahokia’s population minimum in 1400 CE, with the population reaching a population maximum in 1650 CE and then declining again in 1700 CE.ref

    “BIG MAN”

    “A big man is a highly influential individual in a tribe, especially in Melanesia and Polynesia. Such a person may not have formal tribal or other authority (through for instance material possessions, or inheritance of rights), but can maintain recognition through skilled persuasion and wisdom. The big man has a large group of followers, both from his clan and from other clans. He provides his followers with protection and economic assistance, in return receiving support which he uses to increase his status.” ref

    “A big man’s position is rarely secured as an inherited position at the top of a hierarchy. Rather, big men commonly compete with one another in an ongoing process of reciprocity and re-distribution of material and political resources. Spreading the word of his power and capabilities – thereby establishing reputation and recognition among outsiders – requires the delivery of resources as tribute to relevant big men of other groups. Simultaneously, he must secure resources for his own followers in order to maintain their satisfaction and confidence in his leadership. As such, the big man is subject to a transactional order based on his ability to effectively balance these mutually opposed tasks.ref

    “Concepts of the role and what it entails are relatively fluid and can vary between groups. Typically, any authority a big man may possess is neither formally defined nor universally recognized by others. His position is usually not heritable and his descendants are not guaranteed the right to succession or any otherwise elevated status. In the Island of Malaita in Solomon Islands the big man system is dying away, but the big man system can be seen at the political level. Every four years in the Solomon Islands‘ national elections, the system can be clearly seen, especially in the Melanesian Islands.ref

    “The first use of the term may be found in the English-translation of Dreißig Jahre in der Südsee (1907) by Richard Parkinson. The term may be often found in many historical works dealing with Papua New Guinea. Andrew Strathern applies the concept of big-men to a community in Mount Hagen, Papua New Guinea. Traditionally, among peoples of non-Austronesian-speaking communities, authority was obtained by a man (the so-called “big man”) recognised as “performing most capably in social, political, economic and ceremonial activities”. His function was not to command, but to influence his society through his example. He was expected to act as a negotiator with neighboring groups and to periodically redistribute food (generally produced by his wives). In this sense, he was seen as ensuring the well-being of his community. Such a system is still found in many parts of Papua New Guinea, and other parts of Melanesia.ref

    “A monarchy is a form of government in which a person, the monarch, is head of state for life or until abdication. The political legitimacy and authority of the monarch may vary from restricted and largely symbolic (constitutional monarchy), to fully autocratic (absolute monarchy), and can span across executive, legislative, and judicial domains. The succession of monarchs has mostly been hereditary, often building dynasties. However, elective and self-proclaimed monarchies have also often occurred throughout history. Aristocrats, though not inherent to monarchies, often serve as the pool of persons from which the monarch is chosen, and to fill the constituting institutions (e.g. diet and court), giving many monarchies oligarchic elements. Monarchs can carry various titles such as emperor, empress, king, and queen. Monarchies can form federations, personal unions and realms with vassals through personal association with the monarch, which is a common reason for monarchs carrying several titles.” ref


    In earlier periods of Mesopotamian history, the city-states were often ruled by king-priests who executed both royal duties related to governing the city-state and military protection as well as the priestly duties of maintaining the temple cult and serving as an intermediary between the gods and the people. However, in later times, this position of king-priest was divided, separating kings from priests.” ref


    King is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of contexts. A king is an absolute monarch if he holds the powers of government without control, or the entire sovereignty over a nation; he is a limited monarch if his power is restrained by fixed laws; and he is an absolute, when he holds the whole legislative, judicial, and executive power, or when the legislative or judicial powers, or both, are vested in other people by the king. Kings are hereditary sovereigns when they hold the powers of government by right of birth or inheritance, and elective when raised to the throne by choice. The term king may also refer to a king consort, a title that is sometimes given to the husband of a queen regnant, but the title of prince consort is more common.” ref

    “The English term king is derived from the Anglo-Saxon cyning, which in turn is derived from the Common Germanic *kuningaz. The Common Germanic term was borrowed into Estonian and Finnish at an early time, surviving in these languages as kuningas. It is a derivation from the term *kunjom “kin” (Old English cynn) by the -inga- suffix. The literal meaning is that of a “scion of the [noble] kin”, or perhaps “son or descendant of one of noble birth.” ref

    The English word is of Germanic origin, and historically refers to Germanic kingship, in the pre-Christian period a type of tribal kingship. The monarchies of Europe in the Christian Middle Ages derived their claim from Christianisation and the divine right of kings, partly influenced by the notion of sacral kingship inherited from Germanic antiquity. The Early Middle Ages begin with a fragmentation of the former Western Roman Empire into barbarian kingdoms. In Western Europe, the kingdom of the Franks developed into the Carolingian Empire by the 8th century, and the kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England were unified into the kingdom of England by the 10th century.” ref

    “With the breakup of the Carolingian Empire in the 9th century, the system of feudalism places kings at the head of a pyramid of relationships between liege lords and vassals, dependent on the regional rule of barons, and the intermediate positions of counts (or earls) and dukes. The core of European feudal manorialism in the High Middle Ages were the territories of the former Carolingian Empire, i.e. the kingdom of France and the Holy Roman Empire (centered on the nominal kingdoms of Germany and Italy).” ref

    “In the course of the European Middle Ages, the European kingdoms underwent a general trend of centralisation of power, so that by the Late Middle Ages there were a number of large and powerful kingdoms in Europe, which would develop into the great powers of Europe in the Early Modern period.” ref

    Ruling Class

    In sociology, the ruling class of a society is the social class who set and decide the political and economic agenda of society. In Marxist philosophy, the ruling class are the class who own the means of production in a given society and apply their cultural hegemony to determine and establish the dominant ideology (ideas, culture, mores, norms, traditions) of the society. They are also called the bourgeoisie.” ref

    “In previous modes of production, such as feudalism (inheritable property and rights), the feudal lords of the manor were the ruling class; in an economy based upon chattel slavery, the slave owners were the ruling class. The political economy of the feudal system gave socio-economic and legal power to the feudal lord over the life, labor, and property of the vassal, including military service. The political economy of a slave state gave the slave socio-economic and legal power over the person, labor, and property of a slave.” ref

    “In Marxist philosophy, the capitalist society has two social classes: (i) the ruling-class bourgeoisie (capitalist class) who own the means of production as private property; and (ii) the working-class proletariat whom the bourgeoisie subject to the exploitation of labor, which form of political economy is justified by the dominant ideology of the ruling class. To replace the capitalist mode of production in a society, Marxism seeks to void the political legitimacy of the ruling class to hold power of government. Afterward, the proletariat (the urban working class and the peasantry) assumes political and socio-economic power as the ruling class of society.” ref

    “The administrators of the bureaucracy are required to realize the socio-economic functions of the state. In that vein, the sociologist C. Wright Mills identified and distinguished between the ruling class and the power élite who make the decisions for society. Likewise, to establish a society without social classes, Anarchism seeks to abolish the ruling class. Unlike the Marxist perspective, anarchists, such as Mikhail Bakunin, seek to abolish the state, because, despite revolutionary change, the (capitalist) ruling class would be replaced by another ruling class (party leaders), which is a political cycle that voids the social-change purpose of a revolution.” ref


    In political and sociological theory, the elite (Frenchélite, from Latineligere, to select or to sort out) are a small group of powerful people who hold a disproportionate amount of wealthprivilegepolitical power, or skill in a group. Defined by the Cambridge Dictionary, the “elite” are “those people or organizations that are considered the best or most powerful compared to others of a similar type.” ref

    “According to Mills, the governing elite in the United States primarily draws its members from political leaders, including the president, and a handful of key cabinet members, as well as close advisers, major corporate owners and directors, and high-ranking military officers. These groups overlap and elites tend to circulate from one sector to another, consolidating power in the process. The Marxist theoretician Nikolai Bukharin anticipated the elite theory in his 1929 work, Imperialism and World Economy: “present-day state power is nothing but an entrepreneurs’ company of tremendous power, headed even by the same persons that occupy the leading positions in the banking and syndicate offices.ref

    “Unlike the ruling class, a social formation based on heritage and social ties, the power elite is characterized by the organizational structures through which its wealth is acquired. According to Mills, the power elite rose from “the managerial reorganization of the propertied classes into the more or less unified stratum of the corporate rich.” In G. William Domhoff’s sociology textbooks, Who Rules America? editions, he further clarified the differences in the two terms: “The upper class as a whole does not do the ruling. Instead, class rule is manifested through the activities of a wide variety of organizations and institutions…Leaders within the upper class join with high-level employees in the organizations they control to make up what will be called the power elite.ref

    “The power elite is a term used by Mills to describe a relatively small, loosely connected group of individuals who dominate American policymaking. This group includes bureaucratic, corporate, intellectual, military, media, and government elites who control the principal institutions in the United States and whose opinions and actions influence the decisions of the policymakers. The basis for membership of a power elite is institutional power, namely an influential position within a prominent private or public organization. A study of the French corporate elite has shown that social class continues to hold sway in determining who joins this elite group, with those from the upper-middle class tending to dominate.ref

    “Mills determined that there is an “inner core” of the power elite involving individuals that are able to move from one seat of institutional power to another. They, therefore, have a wide range of knowledge and interests in many influential organizations and are, as Mills describes, “professional go-betweens of economic, political, and military affairs.” Relentless expansion of capitalism and the globalizing of economic and military power bind leaders of the power elite into complex relationships with nation states that generate global-scale class divisions. Sociologist Manuel Castells writes in The Rise of the Network Society that contemporary globalization does not mean that “everything in the global economy is global.” So, a global economy becomes characterized by fundamental social inequalities with respect to the “level of integration, competitive potential and share of the benefits from economic growth.ref

    “Castells cites a kind of “double movement” where on one hand, “valuable segments of territories and people” become “linked in the global networks of value making and wealth appropriation,” while, on the other, “everything and everyone” that is not valued by established networks gets “switched off…and ultimately discarded”. These evolutions have also led many social scientists to explore empirically the possible emergence of a new transnational and cohesive social class at the top of the social ladder: a global elite. But, the wide-ranging effects of global capitalism ultimately affect everyone on the planet, as economies around the world come to depend on the functioning of global financial markets, technologies, trade, and labor.ref


    Hegemony is the political, economic, and military predominance of one state over other states, either regional or global. From the post-classical Latin word hēgemonia (1513 or earlier) from the Greek word ἡγεμονίαhēgemonía, ‘authority, rule, political supremacy’, related to the word ἡγεμώνhēgemṓnleader. In theories of imperialism, the hegemonic order dictates the internal politics and the societal character of the subordinate states that constitute the hegemonic sphere of influence, either by an internal, sponsored government or by an external, installed government. The term hegemonism denoted the geopolitical and the cultural predominance of one country over other countries, e.g. the hegemony of the Great Powers established with European colonialism in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.” ref

    “30th–27th centuries BCE or around 5,000 to 4,700 years ago, the political pattern of Sumer was hegemony shifting from city to city and called King of Kish. According to the Sumerian King List, Kish established the hegemony yet before the Flood. One of the earliest literary legacies of humankind, the Epic of Gilgamesh, is a case of anti-hegemonic resistanceGilgamesh fights and overthrows the hegemon of his world.” ref

    8th–3rd centuries BCE or around 2,800 to 2,300 years ago, in the Greek world of 5th century BCE, the city-state of Sparta was the hegemon of the Peloponnesian League (6th to 4th centuries BCE), and King Philip II of Macedon was the hegemon of the League of Corinth in 337 BCE (a kingship he willed to his son, Alexander the Great). Likewise, the role of Athens within the short-lived Delian League (478–404 BCE) was that of a “hegemon.” The super-regional Persian Achaemenid Empire of 550 –330 BCE dominated these sub-regional hegemonies prior to its collapse. Ancient historians such as Herodotus (c.  484  c. 425 BCE). Xenophon (c.  431 – 354 BCE) and Ephorus (c. 400 – 330 BCE) pioneered the use of the term hēgemonía in the modern sense of hegemony.ref

    “In Ancient East Asia, Chinese hegemony existed during the Spring and Autumn period (c. 770–480 BCE), when the weakened rule of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty led to the relative autonomy of the Five Hegemons (Ba in Chinese []). The term is translated as lord protector, or lord of the covenants, or chief of the feudal lords and is described as intermediate between king of independent state and Emperor of All under Heaven. The hegemons were appointed by feudal lord conferences and were nominally obliged to support the King of Zhou, whose status was parallel to that of the Roman Pope in medieval Europe.ref

    “In 364 BCE, Qin emerged victorious from war, and its Duke Xian (424–362 BCE) was named hegemon by the King of Zhou. Qin rulers did not preserve the official title of hegemon but, in fact, kept the hegemony over their world: “For more than one hundred years [before 221 BCE] Qin commanded eight lands and brought the lord of equal rank to its court.” One of the six other great powers, Wei, was annexed as early as 324 BCE. From the reign of Duke Xian on, “Qin gradually swallowed up the six [other] states until, after a hundred years or so, the First Emperor was able to bring all kings under his power.ref

    “The century preceding the Qin’s wars of unification in 221 BCE was dominated by confrontation between the hegemonic horizontal alliance led by the Qin and the anti-hegemonic alliance called perpendicular or vertical. “The political world appears as a chaos of ever-changing coalitions, but in which each new combination could ultimately be defined by its relation to Qin. The first anti-hegemonic or perpendicular alliance was formed in 322 BCE. Qin was supported by one state, Wei, which it had annexed two years previously. The remaining five great warring states of China joined in the anti-hegemonic coalition and attacked Qin in 318 BCE. “Qin, supported by one annexed state, overwhelmed the world coalition.” The same scenario repeated itself several times.) until Qin decisively moved from hegemony to conquests and annexations in 221 BCE.ref

    “In Ancient Greece (ca. 8th BCE – CE 6th c.), hegemony denoted the politico-military dominance of the hegemon city-state over other city-states. In the 19th century, hegemony denoted the “social or cultural predominance or ascendancy; predominance by one group within a society or milieu” and “a group or regime which exerts undue influence within a society.ref

    “2nd century BCE – 15th century CE, Rome established its hegemony over the entire Mediterranean after its victory over the Seleucid Empire in 189 BCE. Officially, Rome’s client states were outside the whole Roman imperium, and preserved their entire sovereignty and international rights and privileges. With few exceptions, the Roman treaties with client states (foedera) were formulized on equal terms without any expression of clientship and the Romans almost never used the word “client.” The term “client king” is an invention of the post-Renaissance scholarship. Those who are conventionally called by modern historians of Rome “client kings” were referred to as “allies and friends” of the Roman people. “Alliance” and “friendship,” not any kind of subordination, bound them to Rome.ref

    “No regular or formal tribute was extracted from client states. The land of a client state could not officially be a basis for taxation. The overall fact is that, despite extensive conquests, the Romans did not settle down nor extracted revenues in any subdued territories between 200 and 148 BCE. The first good evidence for regular taxation of another kingdom comes from Judea as late as 64 BCE. The Roman hegemony of the late Republic left to the Mediterranean kings internal autonomy and obliged not to enter hostile to Rome alliances and not to wage offensive wars without consent of the Senate. Annexations usually followed when client kings broke this order (Macedonia in 148 BCE and Pontus in 64 BCE). In the course of these and other annexations, Rome gradually evolved from hegemony into empire. The last major client state of the Mediterranean – the Ptolemaic Kingdom – was annexed by Augustus in the very beginning of his reign in 30 BCE.ref

    “Augustus initiated an unprecedented era of peace, shortly after his reign called Pax Romana. This peace however was imperial rather than hegemonic. Classic and modern scholars who call Pax Romana “hegemonic peace,” use the term “hegemony” in its broader sense which includes both hegemony and empire. From the 7th century to the 12th century, the Umayyad Caliphate and later Abbasid Caliphate dominated the vast territories they governed, with other states like the Byzantine Empire paying tribute.ref

    “In 7th century India, Harsha, ruler of a large empire in northern India from CE 606 to 647, brought most of the north under his hegemony. He preferred not to rule as a central government, but left “conquered kings on their thrones and contenting himself with tribute and homage.” From the late 9th to the early 11th century, the empire developed by Charlemagne achieved hegemony in Europe, with dominance over France, most of Northern and Central Italy, Burgundy and Germany.ref

    “From the 11th to the late 15th centuries, the Italian maritime republics, in particular Venice and Genoa held hegemony in the Mediterranean, dominating trade between Europe and the Orient for centuries, and having naval supremacy. However, with the arrival of the Age of Discovery and the Early modern period, they began to gradually lose their hegemony to other European powers. In The Politics of International Political Economy, Jayantha Jayman writes, “If we consider the Western dominated global system from as early as the 15th century, there have been several hegemonic powers and contenders that have attempted to create the world order in their own images.ref

    “In the historical writing of the 19th century, the denotation of hegemony extended to describe the predominance of one country upon other countries; and, by extension, hegemonism denoted the Great Power politics (c. 1880s – 1914) for establishing hegemony (indirect imperial rule), that then leads to a definition of imperialism (direct foreign rule). In the early 20th century, the Italian Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci used the idea of hegemony to talk about politics within a given society. He developed the theory of cultural hegemony, an analysis of economic class (including social class) and how the ruling class uses consent as well as force to maintain its power. Hence, the philosophic and sociologic theory of cultural hegemony analyzed the social norms that established the social structures to impose their Weltanschauung (world view)—justifying the social, political, and economic status quo—as natural, inevitable, and beneficial to every social class, rather than as artificial social constructs beneficial solely to the ruling class.ref

    “In the field of International Relations, hegemony generally refers to the ability of an actor to shape the international system. Usually, this actor is a state, such as Britain in the 19th century or the United States in the 20th century. A hegemon may shape the international system through coercive and non-coercive means. According to Nuno Monteiro, hegemony is distinct from unipolarity. The latter refers to a preponderance of power within an anarchic system, whereas the former refers to a hierarchical system where the most powerful state has the ability to “control the external behavior of all other states.” Hegemony may take different forms. Benevolent hegemons provide public goods to the countries within their sphere of influence. Coercive hegemons exert their economic or military power to discipline unruly or free-riding countries in their sphere of influence. Exploitative hegemonies extract resources from other countries.ref

    “Various perspectives on whether the US was or continues to be a hegemon have been presented since the end of the Cold War. Most notably, American political scientists John Mearsheimer and Joseph Nye have argued that the US is not a genuine global hegemon because it has neither the financial nor the military resources to impose a proper, formal, global hegemony. This theory is heavily contested in academic discussions of IR, with Anna Beyer being a notable critic of Nye and Mearsheimer. The French Socialist politician Hubert Védrine in 1999 described the US as a hegemonic hyperpower, because of its unilateral military actions worldwide.ref

    Pentagon strategist Edward Luttwak, in The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire, outlined three stages, with hegemonic being the first, followed by imperial. In his view the transformation proved to be fatal and eventually led to the fall of the Roman Empire. His book gives implicit advice to Washington to continue the present hegemonic strategy and refrain from establishing an empire. In 2006, author Zhu Zhiqun claimed that China is already on the way to becoming the world hegemon and that the focus should be on how a peaceful transfer of power can be achieved between the US and China, but has faced opposition to this claim. According to the recent study published in 2019, the authors argued that a “third‐way hegemony” or Dutch‐style hegemony apart from a peaceful or violent hegemonic rise may be the most feasible option to describe China in its global hegemony in the future.ref

    7,000 to 5,000 years ago because of violence genetics dropped to 1 man for every 17 women

    An abrupt population bottleneck specific to human males has been inferred across several Old World (Africa, Europe, Asia) populations 5000–7000 years ago. Previous studies also show trauma marks present on skulls clearly indicate the fighters used axes, clubs, and arrows to kill each other. Scientists from Stanford used mathematical models and computer simulations, in which men fought and died – allowing them to test their theory on the ‘Neolithic Y-chromosome bottleneck’. According to genetic patterns, researchers found the decline was only noticed in men – particularly on the Y chromosome, which is passed on from father to son. The war was so severe that it caused the male population to plummet to extremely low levels, reaching an astonishing one-twentieth of its original level. This results in the loss of Y chromosomes as they slowly deteriorate over time and eventually may get wiped out from the genome.” ref

    “Once upon a time, 4,000 to 8,000 years after humanity invented agriculture, something very strange happened to human reproduction. Across the globe, for every 17 women who were reproducing, passing on genes that are still around today—only one man did the same. Another member of the research team, a biological anthropologist, hypothesizes that somehow, only a few men accumulated lots of wealth and power, leaving nothing for others. These men could then pass their wealth on to their sons, perpetuating this pattern of elitist reproductive success. Then, as more thousands of years passed, the numbers of men reproducing, compared to women, rose again. In more recent history, as a global average, about four or five women reproduced for every one man.” ref

    Sacrificing Women around 6,000 to 5,500 years ago

    “Stone Age Women Were Sacrificed in Mafia-Style Killings: Archaeologists Sometime between 4,000 and 3,500 BCE or around 6,000 to 5,500 years ago, an arrangement consistent with summer and winter solstice rituals. Ancient remains found in France reveal two women were likely tortured and killed Mafia-style. The women experienced “self-strangulation” using a ligature that bound their ankles to their necks. Twenty similar ritualistic burials have been discovered at sites across Europe. “Killing people with homicidal ligature strangulation has been interpreted as a form of symbolic suicide, as it is the individual who, by strangling themselves, causes their death,” said the study’s authors. The killings could have been part of ritual beliefs that a human sacrifice could ensure a good harvest and food security, said the archaeologists, noting similar practices existed in the Inca civilization of South America. “There is always this idea that somebody is dying and that the crops will grow.” ref

    “The Pyramid of Capitalist System is a common name of a 1911 American cartoon caricature critical of capitalism, copied from a Russian flyer of c. 1901. The graphic focus is on stratification by social class and economic inequality. The work has been described as “famous”, “well-known and widely reproduced”. A number of derivative works exist. The picture shows a literal “social pyramid” or hierarchy, with the wealthy few on the top, and the impoverished masses at the bottom. Crowned with a money bag representing capitalism, the top layer, “we rule you”, is occupied by the royalty and state leaders. Underneath them are the clergy (“we fool you”), followed by the military (“we shoot at you”), and the bourgeoisie (“we eat for you”). The bottom of the pyramid is held up by the workers and the peasants (“we work for all… we feed all”). The basic message of the image is a critique of the capitalist system, depicting a hierarchy of power and wealth. It illustrates a working class supporting all others, and if it would withdraw their support from the system it could topple the existing social order. This type of criticism of capitalism is attributed to the French socialist Louis Blanc.” ref

    Arcane = complicated and therefore understood or known by only a few people

    To me, societies start with primitive anarchism and socialism at least 100,000 years ago and are seen in animist-only thinking that is now largely limited to southern Africa today. Then they lose systematic anarchism possibly by 50,000 to 40,000 years ago but keeps socialism/primitive communism with the emergence of totemism largely limited to Europe and then spreading out from there. And to me, arcane/primitive capitalism emerges at or around 7,000 to 5,000 years ago in central Europe especially southern Germany or surrounding areas (Czecho-Slovakia and Austria), and then spread out from there.

    7,522-6,522 years ago Linear Pottery culture which I think relates to Arcane Capitalism’s origins


    Arcane Capitalism: Primitive capital, Private ownership, Class discrimination and Petite bourgeoisie (Video)


    ref, ref

    Wage Slavery

    Wage slavery is a term used to describe a situation where a person’s livelihood depends on wages or a salary, especially when the wages are low and the person has few realistic chances of upward mobility.” ref

    “The term is sometimes used to criticize exploitation of labor and social stratification, with the former seen primarily as unequal bargaining power between labor and capital (particularly when workers are paid comparatively low wages, e.g. in sweatshops) and the latter as a lack of workers’ self-management, fulfilling job choices and leisure in an economy.” ref

    “The criticism of social stratification covers a wider range of employment choices bound by the pressures of a hierarchical society to perform otherwise unfulfilling work that deprives humans of their “species character” not only under threat of starvation or poverty, but also of social stigma and status diminution. Historically, some socialist organizations and activists have espoused workers’ self-management or worker cooperatives as possible alternatives to wage labor.” ref

    “Similarities between wage labor and slavery were noted as early as Cicero in Ancient Rome, such as in De Officiis. With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, thinkers such as Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Karl Marx elaborated the comparison between wage labor and slavery, while Luddites emphasized the dehumanization brought about by machines. The introduction of wage labor in 18th-century Britain was met with resistance, giving rise to the principles of syndicalism and anarchism.” ref

    “Before the American Civil War, Southern defenders of African American slavery invoked the concept of wage slavery to favorably compare the condition of their slaves to workers in the North. The United States abolished most forms of slavery after the Civil War, but labor union activists found the metaphor useful – according to historian Lawrence Glickman, in the Gilded Age “[r]eferences abounded in the labor press, and it is hard to find a speech by a labor leader without the phrase.” ref

    Aristotle stated that “the citizens must not live a mechanic or a mercantile life (for such a life is ignoble and inimical to virtue), nor yet must those who are to be citizens in the best state be tillers of the soil (for leisure is needed both for the development of virtue and for active participation in politics)”, often paraphrased as “all paid jobs absorb and degrade the mind.” ref 

    Cicero wrote in 44 BCE that “vulgar are the means of livelihood of all hired workmen whom we pay for mere manual labor, not for artistic skill; for in their case the very wage they receive is a pledge of their slavery”. Somewhat similar criticisms have also been expressed by some proponents of liberalism, like Silvio Gesell and Thomas Paine; Henry George, who inspired the economic philosophy known as Georgism; and the Distributist school of thought within the Catholic Church.” ref

    “To Karl Marx and anarchist thinkers like Mikhail Bakunin and Peter Kropotkin, wage slavery was a class condition in place due to the existence of private property and the state. This class situation rested primarily on:

    1. The existence of property not intended for active use;
    2. The concentration of ownership in few hands;
    3. The lack of direct access by workers to the means of production and consumption goods; and
    4. The perpetuation of a reserve army of unemployed workers.” ref

    “And secondarily on:

    1. The waste of workers’ efforts and resources on producing useless luxuries;
    2. The waste of goods so that their price may remain high; and
    3. The waste of all those who sit between the producer and consumer, taking their own shares at each stage without actually contributing to the production of goods, i.e. the middle man.” ref

    “Fascist economic policies were more hostile to independent trade unions than modern economies in Europe or the United States. Fascism was more widely accepted in the 1920s and 1930s, and foreign corporate investment (notably from the United States) in Germany increased after the fascists took power. Fascism has been perceived by some notable critics, like Buenaventura Durruti, to be a last resort weapon of the privileged to ensure the maintenance of wage slavery:

    No government fights fascism to destroy it. When the bourgeoisie sees that power is slipping out of its hands, it brings up fascism to hold onto their privileges.” ref

    “Social anarchism, also known as left-wing anarchism or socialist anarchism, is the branch of anarchism that sees liberty and social equality as interrelated. It advocates for a social revolution to remove oppressive forms of hierarchy, such as capitalism and the state. In their place, social anarchists encourage social collaboration through mutual aid and envision non-hierarchical forms of social organization, such as voluntary associations. Social anarchism is opposed to all forms of social and political powerhierarchy, and oppression, including (but not limited to) the State and capitalism. Social anarchism sees liberty as interconnected with social equality, and considers the maximization of one to be necessary for the maximization of the other. Social anarchism, therefore, employs a utilitarian ethics, concerning itself with the well-being of all, as it considers each person’s happiness to be equal to those of others. As such, social anarchism seeks to guarantee equal rights to freedom and material security for all persons.ref

    I am Anti-Fascist

    Fascism is a far-rightauthoritarianultranationalist political ideology and movement, characterized by a dictatorial leader, centralized autocracymilitarism, forcible suppression of opposition, belief in a natural social hierarchy, subordination of individual interests for the perceived good of the nation and/or race, and strong regimentation of society and the economy. Fascism rejects assertions that violence is inherently negative or pointless, instead viewing imperialism, political violence, and war as means to national rejuvenation. Fascists often advocate for the establishment of a totalitarian one-party state, and for a dirigiste economy, with the principal goal of achieving autarky (national economic self-sufficiency) through economic interventionist policies.” ref

    Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

    People don’t commonly teach religious history, even that of their own claimed religion. No, rather they teach a limited “pro their religion” history of their religion from a religious perspective favorable to the religion of choice. 

    Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

    Do you truly think “Religious Belief” is only a matter of some personal choice?

    Do you not see how coercive one’s world of choice is limited to the obvious hereditary belief, in most religious choices available to the child of religious parents or caregivers? Religion is more commonly like a family, culture, society, etc. available belief that limits the belief choices of the child and that is when “Religious Belief” is not only a matter of some personal choice and when it becomes hereditary faith, not because of the quality of its alleged facts or proposed truths but because everyone else important to the child believes similarly so they do as well simply mimicking authority beliefs handed to them. Because children are raised in religion rather than being presented all possible choices but rather one limited dogmatic brand of “Religious Belief” where children only have a choice of following the belief as instructed, and then personally claim the faith hereditary belief seen in the confirming to the belief they have held themselves all their lives. This is obvious in statements asked and answered by children claiming a faith they barely understand but they do understand that their family believes “this or that” faith, so they feel obligated to believe it too. While I do agree that “Religious Belief” should only be a matter of some personal choice, it rarely is… End Hereditary Religion!

    Opposition to Imposed Hereditary Religion

    Damien Marie AtHope’s Art


    Animism: Respecting the Living World by Graham Harvey 

    “How have human cultures engaged with and thought about animals, plants, rocks, clouds, and other elements in their natural surroundings? Do animals and other natural objects have a spirit or soul? What is their relationship to humans? In this new study, Graham Harvey explores current and past animistic beliefs and practices of Native Americans, Maori, Aboriginal Australians, and eco-pagans. He considers the varieties of animism found in these cultures as well as their shared desire to live respectfully within larger natural communities. Drawing on his extensive casework, Harvey also considers the linguistic, performative, ecological, and activist implications of these different animisms.” ref

    Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

    We are like believing machines we vacuum up ideas, like Velcro sticks to almost everything. We accumulate beliefs that we allow to negatively influence our lives, often without realizing it. Our willingness must be to alter skewed beliefs that impend our balance or reason, which allows us to achieve new positive thinking and accurate outcomes.

    My thoughts on Religion Evolution with external links for more info:

    “Religion is an Evolved Product” and Yes, Religion is Like Fear Given Wings…

    Atheists talk about gods and religions for the same reason doctors talk about cancer, they are looking for a cure, or a firefighter talks about fires because they burn people and they care to stop them. We atheists too often feel a need to help the victims of mental slavery, held in the bondage that is the false beliefs of gods and the conspiracy theories of reality found in religions.

    “Understanding Religion Evolution: Animism, Totemism, Shamanism, Paganism & Progressed organized religion”

    Understanding Religion Evolution:

    “An Archaeological/Anthropological Understanding of Religion Evolution”

    It seems ancient peoples had to survived amazing threats in a “dangerous universe (by superstition perceived as good and evil),” and human “immorality or imperfection of the soul” which was thought to affect the still living, leading to ancestor worship. This ancestor worship presumably led to the belief in supernatural beings, and then some of these were turned into the belief in gods. This feeble myth called gods were just a human conceived “made from nothing into something over and over, changing, again and again, taking on more as they evolve, all the while they are thought to be special,” but it is just supernatural animistic spirit-belief perceived as sacred.


    Quick Evolution of Religion?

    Pre-Animism (at least 300,000 years ago) pre-religion is a beginning that evolves into later Animism. So, Religion as we think of it, to me, all starts in a general way with Animism (Africa: 100,000 years ago) (theoretical belief in supernatural powers/spirits), then this is physically expressed in or with Totemism (Europe: 50,000 years ago) (theoretical belief in mythical relationship with powers/spirits through a totem item), which then enlists a full-time specific person to do this worship and believed interacting Shamanism (Siberia/Russia: 30,000 years ago) (theoretical belief in access and influence with spirits through ritual), and then there is the further employment of myths and gods added to all the above giving you Paganism (Turkey: 12,000 years ago) (often a lot more nature-based than most current top world religions, thus hinting to their close link to more ancient religious thinking it stems from). My hypothesis is expressed with an explanation of the building of a theatrical house (modern religions development). Progressed organized religion (Egypt: 5,000 years ago)  with CURRENT “World” RELIGIONS (after 4,000 years ago).

    Historically, in large city-state societies (such as Egypt or Iraq) starting around 5,000 years ago culminated to make religion something kind of new, a sociocultural-governmental-religious monarchy, where all or at least many of the people of such large city-state societies seem familiar with and committed to the existence of “religion” as the integrated life identity package of control dynamics with a fixed closed magical doctrine, but this juggernaut integrated religion identity package of Dogmatic-Propaganda certainly did not exist or if developed to an extent it was highly limited in most smaller prehistoric societies as they seem to lack most of the strong control dynamics with a fixed closed magical doctrine (magical beliefs could be at times be added or removed). Many people just want to see developed religious dynamics everywhere even if it is not. Instead, all that is found is largely fragments until the domestication of religion.

    Religions, as we think of them today, are a new fad, even if they go back to around 6,000 years in the timeline of human existence, this amounts to almost nothing when seen in the long slow evolution of religion at least around 70,000 years ago with one of the oldest ritual worship. Stone Snake of South Africa: “first human worship” 70,000 years ago. This message of how religion and gods among them are clearly a man-made thing that was developed slowly as it was invented and then implemented peace by peace discrediting them all. Which seems to be a simple point some are just not grasping how devastating to any claims of truth when we can see the lie clearly in the archeological sites.

    I wish people fought as hard for the actual values as they fight for the group/clan names political or otherwise they think support values. Every amount spent on war is theft to children in need of food or the homeless kept from shelter.

    Here are several of my blog posts on history:

    I am not an academic. I am a revolutionary that teaches in public, in places like social media, and in the streets. I am not a leader by some title given but from my commanding leadership style of simply to start teaching everywhere to everyone, all manner of positive education. 

    Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

    To me, Animism starts in Southern Africa, then to West Europe, and becomes Totemism. Another split goes near the Russia and Siberia border becoming Shamanism, which heads into Central Europe meeting up with Totemism, which also had moved there, mixing the two which then heads to Lake Baikal in Siberia. From there this Shamanism-Totemism heads to Turkey where it becomes Paganism.

    Damien Marie AtHope’s Art


    Not all “Religions” or “Religious Persuasions” have a god(s) but

    All can be said to believe in some imaginary beings or imaginary things like spirits, afterlives, etc.

    Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

    ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref

    Low Gods “Earth” or Tutelary deity and High Gods “Sky” or Supreme deity

    “An Earth goddess is a deification of the Earth. Earth goddesses are often associated with the “chthonic” deities of the underworldKi and Ninhursag are Mesopotamian earth goddesses. In Greek mythology, the Earth is personified as Gaia, corresponding to Roman Terra, Indic Prithvi/Bhūmi, etc. traced to an “Earth Mother” complementary to the “Sky Father” in Proto-Indo-European religionEgyptian mythology exceptionally has a sky goddess and an Earth god.” ref

    “A mother goddess is a goddess who represents or is a personification of naturemotherhoodfertilitycreationdestruction or who embodies the bounty of the Earth. When equated with the Earth or the natural world, such goddesses are sometimes referred to as Mother Earth or as the Earth Mother. In some religious traditions or movements, Heavenly Mother (also referred to as Mother in Heaven or Sky Mother) is the wife or feminine counterpart of the Sky father or God the Father.” ref

    Any masculine sky god is often also king of the gods, taking the position of patriarch within a pantheon. Such king gods are collectively categorized as “sky father” deities, with a polarity between sky and earth often being expressed by pairing a “sky father” god with an “earth mother” goddess (pairings of a sky mother with an earth father are less frequent). A main sky goddess is often the queen of the gods and may be an air/sky goddess in her own right, though she usually has other functions as well with “sky” not being her main. In antiquity, several sky goddesses in ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Near East were called Queen of Heaven. Neopagans often apply it with impunity to sky goddesses from other regions who were never associated with the term historically. The sky often has important religious significance. Many religions, both polytheistic and monotheistic, have deities associated with the sky.” ref

    “In comparative mythology, sky father is a term for a recurring concept in polytheistic religions of a sky god who is addressed as a “father”, often the father of a pantheon and is often either a reigning or former King of the Gods. The concept of “sky father” may also be taken to include Sun gods with similar characteristics, such as Ra. The concept is complementary to an “earth mother“. “Sky Father” is a direct translation of the Vedic Dyaus Pita, etymologically descended from the same Proto-Indo-European deity name as the Greek Zeûs Pater and Roman Jupiter and Germanic Týr, Tir or Tiwaz, all of which are reflexes of the same Proto-Indo-European deity’s name, *Dyēus Ph₂tḗr. While there are numerous parallels adduced from outside of Indo-European mythology, there are exceptions (e.g. In Egyptian mythology, Nut is the sky mother and Geb is the earth father).” ref

    Tutelary deity

    “A tutelary (also tutelar) is a deity or spirit who is a guardian, patron, or protector of a particular place, geographic feature, person, lineage, nation, culture, or occupation. The etymology of “tutelary” expresses the concept of safety and thus of guardianship. In late Greek and Roman religion, one type of tutelary deity, the genius, functions as the personal deity or daimon of an individual from birth to death. Another form of personal tutelary spirit is the familiar spirit of European folklore.” ref

    “A tutelary (also tutelar) iKorean shamanismjangseung and sotdae were placed at the edge of villages to frighten off demons. They were also worshiped as deities. Seonangshin is the patron deity of the village in Korean tradition and was believed to embody the SeonangdangIn Philippine animism, Diwata or Lambana are deities or spirits that inhabit sacred places like mountains and mounds and serve as guardians. Such as: Maria Makiling is the deity who guards Mt. Makiling and Maria Cacao and Maria Sinukuan. In Shinto, the spirits, or kami, which give life to human bodies come from nature and return to it after death. Ancestors are therefore themselves tutelaries to be worshiped. And similarly, Native American beliefs such as Tonás, tutelary animal spirit among the Zapotec and Totems, familial or clan spirits among the Ojibwe, can be animals.” ref

    “A tutelary (also tutelar) in Austronesian beliefs such as: Atua (gods and spirits of the Polynesian peoples such as the Māori or the Hawaiians), Hanitu (Bunun of Taiwan‘s term for spirit), Hyang (KawiSundaneseJavanese, and Balinese Supreme Being, in ancient Java and Bali mythology and this spiritual entity, can be either divine or ancestral), Kaitiaki (New Zealand Māori term used for the concept of guardianship, for the sky, the sea, and the land), Kawas (mythology) (divided into 6 groups: gods, ancestors, souls of the living, spirits of living things, spirits of lifeless objects, and ghosts), Tiki (Māori mythologyTiki is the first man created by either Tūmatauenga or Tāne and represents deified ancestors found in most Polynesian cultures). ” ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref

    Mesopotamian Tutelary Deities can be seen as ones related to City-States 

    “Historical city-states included Sumerian cities such as Uruk and UrAncient Egyptian city-states, such as Thebes and Memphis; the Phoenician cities (such as Tyre and Sidon); the five Philistine city-states; the Berber city-states of the Garamantes; the city-states of ancient Greece (the poleis such as AthensSpartaThebes, and Corinth); the Roman Republic (which grew from a city-state into a vast empire); the Italian city-states from the Middle Ages to the early modern period, such as FlorenceSienaFerraraMilan (which as they grew in power began to dominate neighboring cities) and Genoa and Venice, which became powerful thalassocracies; the Mayan and other cultures of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica (including cities such as Chichen ItzaTikalCopán and Monte Albán); the central Asian cities along the Silk Road; the city-states of the Swahili coastRagusa; states of the medieval Russian lands such as Novgorod and Pskov; and many others.” ref

    “The Uruk period (ca. 4000 to 3100 BCE; also known as Protoliterate period) of Mesopotamia, named after the Sumerian city of Uruk, this period saw the emergence of urban life in Mesopotamia and the Sumerian civilization. City-States like Uruk and others had a patron tutelary City Deity along with a Priest-King.” ref

    Chinese folk religion, both past, and present, includes myriad tutelary deities. Exceptional individuals, highly cultivated sages, and prominent ancestors can be deified and honored after death. Lord Guan is the patron of military personnel and police, while Mazu is the patron of fishermen and sailors. Such as Tu Di Gong (Earth Deity) is the tutelary deity of a locality, and each individual locality has its own Earth Deity and Cheng Huang Gong (City God) is the guardian deity of an individual city, worshipped by local officials and locals since imperial times.” ref

    “A tutelary (also tutelar) in Hinduism, personal tutelary deities are known as ishta-devata, while family tutelary deities are known as Kuladevata. Gramadevata are guardian deities of villages. Devas can also be seen as tutelary. Shiva is the patron of yogis and renunciants. City goddesses include: Mumbadevi (Mumbai), Sachchika (Osian); Kuladevis include: Ambika (Porwad), and Mahalakshmi. In NorthEast India Meitei mythology and religion (Sanamahism) of Manipur, there are various types of tutelary deities, among which Lam Lais are the most predominant ones. Tibetan Buddhism has Yidam as a tutelary deity. Dakini is the patron of those who seek knowledge.” ref

    “A tutelary (also tutelar) The Greeks also thought deities guarded specific places: for instance, Athena was the patron goddess of the city of Athens. Socrates spoke of hearing the voice of his personal spirit or daimonion:

    You have often heard me speak of an oracle or sign which comes to me … . This sign I have had ever since I was a child. The sign is a voice which comes to me and always forbids me to do something which I am going to do, but never commands me to do anything, and this is what stands in the way of my being a politician.” ref

    “Tutelary deities who guard and preserve a place or a person are fundamental to ancient Roman religion. The tutelary deity of a man was his Genius, that of a woman her Juno. In the Imperial era, the Genius of the Emperor was a focus of Imperial cult. An emperor might also adopt a major deity as his personal patron or tutelary, as Augustus did Apollo. Precedents for claiming the personal protection of a deity were established in the Republican era, when for instance the Roman dictator Sulla advertised the goddess Victory as his tutelary by holding public games (ludi) in her honor.” ref

    “Each town or city had one or more tutelary deities, whose protection was considered particularly vital in time of war and siege. Rome itself was protected by a goddess whose name was to be kept ritually secret on pain of death (for a supposed case, see Quintus Valerius Soranus). The Capitoline Triad of Juno, Jupiter, and Minerva were also tutelaries of Rome. The Italic towns had their own tutelary deities. Juno often had this function, as at the Latin town of Lanuvium and the Etruscan city of Veii, and was often housed in an especially grand temple on the arx (citadel) or other prominent or central location. The tutelary deity of Praeneste was Fortuna, whose oracle was renowned.” ref

    “The Roman ritual of evocatio was premised on the belief that a town could be made vulnerable to military defeat if the power of its tutelary deity were diverted outside the city, perhaps by the offer of superior cult at Rome. The depiction of some goddesses such as the Magna Mater (Great Mother, or Cybele) as “tower-crowned” represents their capacity to preserve the city. A town in the provinces might adopt a deity from within the Roman religious sphere to serve as its guardian, or syncretize its own tutelary with such; for instance, a community within the civitas of the Remi in Gaul adopted Apollo as its tutelary, and at the capital of the Remi (present-day Rheims), the tutelary was Mars Camulus.” ref 

    Household deity (a kind of or related to a Tutelary deity)

    “A household deity is a deity or spirit that protects the home, looking after the entire household or certain key members. It has been a common belief in paganism as well as in folklore across many parts of the world. Household deities fit into two types; firstly, a specific deity – typically a goddess – often referred to as a hearth goddess or domestic goddess who is associated with the home and hearth, such as the ancient Greek Hestia.” ref

    “The second type of household deities are those that are not one singular deity, but a type, or species of animistic deity, who usually have lesser powers than major deities. This type was common in the religions of antiquity, such as the Lares of ancient Roman religion, the Gashin of Korean shamanism, and Cofgodas of Anglo-Saxon paganism. These survived Christianisation as fairy-like creatures existing in folklore, such as the Anglo-Scottish Brownie and Slavic Domovoy.” ref

    “Household deities were usually worshipped not in temples but in the home, where they would be represented by small idols (such as the teraphim of the Bible, often translated as “household gods” in Genesis 31:19 for example), amulets, paintings, or reliefs. They could also be found on domestic objects, such as cosmetic articles in the case of Tawaret. The more prosperous houses might have a small shrine to the household god(s); the lararium served this purpose in the case of the Romans. The gods would be treated as members of the family and invited to join in meals, or be given offerings of food and drink.” ref

    “In many religions, both ancient and modern, a god would preside over the home. Certain species, or types, of household deities, existed. An example of this was the Roman Lares. Many European cultures retained house spirits into the modern period. Some examples of these include:

    “Although the cosmic status of household deities was not as lofty as that of the Twelve Olympians or the Aesir, they were also jealous of their dignity and also had to be appeased with shrines and offerings, however humble. Because of their immediacy they had arguably more influence on the day-to-day affairs of men than the remote gods did. Vestiges of their worship persisted long after Christianity and other major religions extirpated nearly every trace of the major pagan pantheons. Elements of the practice can be seen even today, with Christian accretions, where statues to various saints (such as St. Francis) protect gardens and grottos. Even the gargoyles found on older churches, could be viewed as guardians partitioning a sacred space.” ref

    “For centuries, Christianity fought a mop-up war against these lingering minor pagan deities, but they proved tenacious. For example, Martin Luther‘s Tischreden have numerous – quite serious – references to dealing with kobolds. Eventually, rationalism and the Industrial Revolution threatened to erase most of these minor deities, until the advent of romantic nationalism rehabilitated them and embellished them into objects of literary curiosity in the 19th century. Since the 20th century this literature has been mined for characters for role-playing games, video games, and other fantasy personae, not infrequently invested with invented traits and hierarchies somewhat different from their mythological and folkloric roots.” ref

    “In contradistinction to both Herbert Spencer and Edward Burnett Tylor, who defended theories of animistic origins of ancestor worship, Émile Durkheim saw its origin in totemism. In reality, this distinction is somewhat academic, since totemism may be regarded as a particularized manifestation of animism, and something of a synthesis of the two positions was attempted by Sigmund Freud. In Freud’s Totem and Taboo, both totem and taboo are outward expressions or manifestations of the same psychological tendency, a concept which is complementary to, or which rather reconciles, the apparent conflict. Freud preferred to emphasize the psychoanalytic implications of the reification of metaphysical forces, but with particular emphasis on its familial nature. This emphasis underscores, rather than weakens, the ancestral component.” ref

    William Edward Hearn, a noted classicist, and jurist, traced the origin of domestic deities from the earliest stages as an expression of animism, a belief system thought to have existed also in the neolithic, and the forerunner of Indo-European religion. In his analysis of the Indo-European household, in Chapter II “The House Spirit”, Section 1, he states:

    The belief which guided the conduct of our forefathers was … the spirit rule of dead ancestors.” ref

    “In Section 2 he proceeds to elaborate:

    It is thus certain that the worship of deceased ancestors is a vera causa, and not a mere hypothesis. …

    In the other European nations, the Slavs, the Teutons, and the Kelts, the House Spirit appears with no less distinctness. … [T]he existence of that worship does not admit of doubt. … The House Spirits had a multitude of other names which it is needless here to enumerate, but all of which are more or less expressive of their friendly relations with man. … In [England] … [h]e is the Brownie. … In Scotland this same Brownie is well known. He is usually described as attached to particular families, with whom he has been known to reside for centuries, threshing the corn, cleaning the house, and performing similar household tasks. His favorite gratification was milk and honey.” ref