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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Pomo Kin Group and the Political Unit in Aboriginal California


This paper presents some conclusions I have come to concerning the nature of political organization among the tribes of northern California. I concern myself mainly with the nature of the basic political units, ambilateral residential kin groups. However, these units were involved in several kinds of more complex social, political, and religious systems, which reflected rather favorable ecological conditions and what may seem to be very "exceptional" demographic conditions. Most of these systems were characteristic of "tribelets" which were semi-sedentary, rather than nomadic; organized at the levels of tribes or chiefdoms, rather than just at the "band level"; and which had population densities well above the one per square mile figure so often cited as the upper limit for hunting-gathering populations.

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