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The Development Of Mythology
The Minikooju
The Siouan Mythology
Cegiha
General Features Of Organization
The Asiniboin
2 _cegiha_ (_people Dwelling Here_)(9)
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The Hunkpapa
The Itaziptco



Organization





The demotic organization of the Siouan peoples, so far as known, is set
forth in considerable detail in Mr Dorsey's treatises(52) and in the
foregoing enumeration of tribes, confederacies, and other linguistic
groups.

Like the other aborigines north of Mexico, the Siouan Indians were
organized on the basis of kinship, and were thus in the stage of tribal
society. All of the best-known tribes had reached that plane in
organization characterized by descent in the male line, though many
vestiges and some relatively unimportant examples of descent in the female
line have been discovered. Thus the clan system was obsolescent and the
gentile system fairly developed; i. e., the people were practically out of
the stage of savagery and well advanced in the stage of barbarism.

Confederation for defense and offense was fairly defined and was
strengthened by intermarriage between tribes and gentes and the
prohibition of marriage within the gens; yet the organization was such as
to maintain tribal autonomy in considerable degree; i.e., the social
structure was such as to facilitate union in time of war and division into
small groups adapted to hunting in times of peace. No indication of
feudalism has been found in the stock.

The government was autocratic, largely by military leaders sometimes
(particularly in peace) advised by the elders and priests; the leadership
was determined primarily by ability--prowess in war and the chase and
wisdom in the council,--and was thus hereditary only a little further than
characteristics were inherited; indeed, excepting slight recognition of
the divinity that doth hedge about a king, the leaders were practically
self-chosen, arising gradually to the level determined by their abilities.
The germ of theocracy was fairly developed, and apparently burgeoned
vigorously during each period of peace, only to be checked and withered
during the ensuing war when the shamans and their craft were forced into
the background.

During recent years, since the tribes began to yield to the domination of
the peace-loving whites, the government and election are determined
chiefly by kinship, as appears from Dorsey's researches; yet definite
traces of the militant organization appear, and any man can win name and
rank in his gens, tribe, or confederacy by bravery or generosity.

The institutional connection between the Siouan tribes of the plains and
those of the Atlantic slope and the Gulf coast is completely lost, and it
is doubtful whether the several branches have ever been united in a single
confederation (or nation, in the language of the pioneers), at least
since the division in the Appalachian region perhaps five or ten centuries
ago. Since this division the tribes have separated widely, and some of the
bloodiest wars of the region in the historic period have been between
Siouan tribes; the most extensive union possessing the slightest claim to
federal organization was the great Dakota confederacy, which was grown
into instability and partial disruption; and most of the tribal unions and
coalitions were of temporary character.

Although highly elaborate (perhaps because of this character), the Siouan
organization was highly unstable; with every shock of conflict, whether
intestine or external, some autocrats were displaced or slain; and after
each important event--great battle, epidemic, emigration, or destructive
flood--new combinations were formed. The undoubtedly rapid development of
the stock, especially after the passage of the Mississippi, indicates
growth by conquest and assimilation as well as by direct propagation (it
is known that the Dakota and perhaps other groups adopted aliens
regularly); and, doubtless for this reason in part, there was a strong
tendency toward differentiation and dichotomy in the demotic growth. In
some groups the history is too vague to indicate this tendency with
certainty; in others the tendency is clear. Perhaps the best example is
found in the Cegiha, which divided into two great branches, the stronger
of which threw off minor branches in the Osage and Kansa, and afterward
separated into the Omaha and Ponka, while the feebler branch also ramified
widely; and only less notable is the example of the Winnebago trunk, with
its three great branches in the Iowa, Oto, and Missouri. This strong
divergent tendency in itself suggests rapid, perhaps abnormally rapid,
growth in the stock; for it outran and partially concealed the tendency
toward convergence and ultimate coalescence which characterizes demotic
phenomena.

The half-dozen eastern stocks occupying by far the greater part of North
America contrast strongly with the half-hundred local stocks covering the
Pacific coast; and none of the strong Atlantic stocks is more
characteristic, more sharply contrasted with the limited groups of the
western coast, or better understood as regards organization and
development, than the great Siouan stock of the northern interior. There
is promise that, as the demology of aboriginal America is pushed forward,
the records relating to the Siouan Indians and especially to their
structure and institutions will aid in explaining why some stocks are
limited and others extensive, why large stocks in general characterize the
interior and small stocks the coasts, and why the dominant peoples of the
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries were successful in displacing the
preexistent and probably more primitive peoples of the Mississippi valley.
While the time is not yet ripe for making final answer to these inquiries,
it is not premature to suggest a relation between a peculiar development
of the aboriginal stocks and a peculiar geographic conformation: In
general the coastward stocks are small, indicating a provincial shoreland
habit, yet their population and area commonly increase toward those shores
indented by deep bays, along which maritime and inland industries
naturally blend; so (confining attention to eastern United States) the
extensive Muskhogean stock stretches inland from the deep-bayed eastern
Gulf coast; and so, too, three of the largest stocks on the continent
(Algonquian, Iroquoian, Siouan) stretch far into the interior from the
still more deeply indented Atlantic coast. In two of these cases
(Iroquoian and Siouan) history and tradition indicate expansion and
migration from the land of bays between Cape Lookout and Cape May, while
in the third there are similar (though perhaps less definite) indications
of an inland drift from the northern Atlantic bays and along the
Laurentian river and lakes.





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