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The Siouan Mythology
The Mdewakantonwan
Tribal Nomenclature
The Sisitonwan Or Sisseton
The Oohe-nonpa Or Two Kettles
Designation And Mode Of Camping
The Siha-sapa Or Blackfeet
Phonetic And Graphic Arts

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The Waqpe-kute
The Tutelo
The Quapaw Or Kwapa
The Ni-u'-t'a-tci Or Missouri
General Features Of Organization
3 _{~latin Small Letter Turned T~}{~latin Small Letter Open O~}iwe´re_ (_people Of This Place_)
The Osage
10 _sara (extinct)_

Random Siouan Articles

Designation And Mode Of Camping
The Development Of Mythology
Some Features Of Indian Sociology
The Kanze Or Kansa
Extent Of The Stock
Tribal Nomenclature
Dakota Social Customs
The Catawba
General Features Of Organization

General Features Of Organization

In the study of the organization of societies, units of different orders
are discovered. Among the tribes of the Siouan family the primary unit is
the clan or gens, which is composed of a number of consanguinei, claiming
descent from a common ancestor and having common taboos; the term clan
implying descent in the female line, while gens implies descent in the
male line. Among the Dakota, as among the cegiha and other groups, the man
is the head of the family.

Several of the Siouan tribes are divided into two, and one (the Osage) is
divided into three subtribes. Other tribes are composed of phratries, and
each subtribe or phratry comprises a number of gentes. In some tribes each
gens is made up of subgentes, and these in turn of a lower order of
groups, which are provisionally termed sections for want of a better

designation. The existence of these minor groups among the Omaha has been
disputed by some, though other members of the tribe claim that they are
real units of the lowest order. Among the Teton many groups which were
originally sections have become gentes, for the marriage laws do not
affect the original phratries, gentes, and subgentes.

The state, as existing among the Siouan tribes, may be termed a kinship
state, in that the governmental functions are performed by men whose
offices are determined by kinship, and in that the rules relating to
kinship and reproduction constitute the main body of the recognized law.
By this law marriage and the mutual rights and duties of the several
members of each body of kindred are regulated. Individuals are held
responsible, chiefly to their kindred; and certain groups of kindred are
in some cases held responsible to other groups of kindred. When other
conduct, such as the distribution of game taken in the forest or fish from
the waters, is regulated, the rules or laws pertaining thereto involve, to
a certain extent, the considerations of kinship.

The legislative, executive, and judicative functions have not been
differentiated in Indian society as found among the Siouan groups. Two
tendencies or processes of opposite character have been observed among the
tribes, viz, consolidation and segregation. The effects of consolidation
are conspicuous among the Omaha, Kansa, Osage, and Oto, while segregation
has affected the social organization among the Kansa, Ponka, and Teton.
There have been instances of emigration from one tribe to another of the
same linguistic family; and among the Dakota new gentes have been formed
by the adoption into the tribe of foreigners, i.e., those of a different

Two classes of organization are found in the constitution of the state,
viz, (1) major organizations, which relate directly to government, and (2)
minor organizations, which relate only indirectly to government. The
former embraces the state functionaries, the latter comprises

Although the state functionaries are not clearly differentiated, three
classes of such men have been recognized: chiefs, policemen or soldiers,
and young men or the common people. The chiefs are the civil and
religious leaders of the masses; the policemen are the servants of the
chiefs; the young men are such as have not distinguished themselves in war
or in any other way. These last have no voice in the assembly, which is
composed of the chiefs alone. Among the Omaha there is no military class,
yet there is a war element which is regulated by the Elk gens. The cixida
gens and part of the Nika*d*a{~LATIN SMALL LETTER OPEN O~}na gens of the Ponka tribe are considered to
be the warriors of the tribe, though members of other gentes have
participated in war. In the Kansa tribe two gentes, the Large Hanga and
the Small Hanga, form the phratry connected with war, though warriors did
not necessarily belong to those gentes alone. In the Osage camping circle
all the gentes on the right side are war gentes, but the first and second,
reckoning from the van, are the soldiers or policemen; while all the
gentes camping on the left are associated with peace, though their first
and second gentes, reckoning from the van, are policemen or soldiers.
Among the Omaha both officers and warriors must be taken from the class of
young men, as the chiefs are afraid to act as leaders in war; and among
both the Omaha and the Ponka the chiefs, being the civil and religious
leaders of the people, can not serve as captains, or even as members, of
an ordinary war party, though they may fight when the whole tribe engages
in war. Among the Dakota, however, chiefs have led in time of war.

Corporations among the Siouan tribes are minor organizations, indirectly
related to the government, though they do not constitute a part of it. The
Omaha, for instance, and perhaps other tribes of the family, are organized
into certain societies for religious, industrial, and other ends. There
are two kinds of societies, the brotherhoods and the feasting
organizations. The former are the dancing societies, to some of which the
physicians belong.

Social classes are undifferentiated. Any man can win a name and rank in
the section, gens, phratry, tribe, or nation by bravery in war or by
generosity in the bestowal of presents and the frequent giving of feasts.
While there are no slaves among the Siouan tribes, there are several kinds
of servants in civil, military, and religious affairs.

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