Ancient chiefdoms of the Tombigbee by John H. Blitz

By John H. Blitz

A Dan Josselyn Memorial e-book in the final 50 years archaeologists have chanced on that round the tenth century A.D., local southeastern peoples begun a means of cultural switch way more advanced than something that had happened formerly. those overdue prehistoric societies—known as Mississippian—have emerge as considered as chiefdoms. The chiefdoms are of serious anthropological curiosity simply because in a lot of these societies social hierarchies or rank and standing have been first institutionalized. old Chiefdoms of the Tombigbee makes a speciality of either the small- and large-scale Mississippian societies within the Tombigbee-Black Warrior River area of Alabama and Mississippi. Exploring the relationships regarding polity measurement, measure of social score, and source keep watch over offers insights into cycles of chiefdom improvement and fragmentation. Blitz concludes that the sanctified, defense upkeep roles of communal foodstuff garage administration and struggle management have been a enough foundation for formal mainly authority yet inadequate for economically established social stratification.

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Tribute is often used as a catch-all term for the mobilization of material goods or labor by the elite, and I will so use it here. Southeastern chiefs impressed Europeans with their ability to command tribute. In particular, the Spanish interpreted the political relationships of the sixteenth-century chiefdoms as akin to their own feudal system of lords and vassals, but exactly how native tribute functioned is difficult to determine. Involving the circulation of both subsistence products and prestige goods, tribute can be considered at two levels: (1) local resource mobilization emphasizing foodstuffs; and (2) external resource mobilization emphasizing prestige goods.

Responsibilities of the civil chief varied somewhat but usually included ritual roles, mediation of certain disputes, and coordination of public activities and ceremonies. Perhaps most importantly, he supervised storage of surplus food through maintenance of a public granary. The war chief was the military leader of the okla. The political power of the war chief was equal to or surpassed the civil chief's in times of war or external difficulties (Hudson 1976). Because prowess in warfare was a Page 12 major path to status enhancement for young men, the war chief could draw on this support to sway decisions.

Perhaps at this social juncture, within specific historical circumstances such as the Mississippian emergence, the big-man role of intensifier and redistributor could become established as a permanent political office (Friedman 1975; Sahlins 1972; Feinman and Neitzel 1984:56). Probably big man and petty chief should be thought of as points along either a developmental or a descriptive continuum of increasingly formalized roles. Tribal big men and chiefs alike attempt to gain access to wealth and make it available to reward a body of followers.

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