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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/643

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POLITICAL FORMS AND FORCES.

been proved by experience, will form the smaller part, who carry on the discussion, while the larger part, formed of the young, the weak, and the undistinguished, will be listeners, who usually go no further than to express from time to time assent or dissent. A further inference may safely be drawn. In the cluster of leading men there is sure to be some one whose weight is greater than that of any other—some aged hunter, some distinguished warrior, some cunning medicine man, who will have more than his individual share in forming the resolution finally acted upon. That is to say, the entire assemblage will resolve itself into three parts. To use a biological metaphor, there will, out of the general mass, be differentiated a nucleus and a nucleolus.

These first traces of political structure, which we infer a priori must spontaneously arise, we find have arisen among the rudest peoples; repetition having so strengthened them as to produce a settled order. When, among the aborigines of Victoria, a tribe plans revenge on another tribe supposed to have killed one of its members, "a council is called of all the old men of the tribe. . . . The women form an outer circle round the men. . . . The chief [simply 'a native of influence'] opens the council," And what we here see happening in an assemblage having no greater differences than those based on strength, age, and capacity, happens when, later, these natural distinctions have gained definiteness. In illustration may be named the account which Schoolcraft gives of a conference at which the Chippewas, Ottawas, and Pottawattamies, met certain United States commissioners, Schoolcraft being himself present. After the address of the head commissioner had been delivered, the speaking on behalf of the Indians was carried on by the principal chiefs; the lead being taken by "a man venerable for his age and standing." Though Schoolcraft does not describe the assemblage of undistinguished people, yet that they were present is shown by a passage in one of the native speeches: "Behold! see my brethren, both young and old—the warriors and chiefs—the women and children of my nation." And that the political order observed on this occasion was the usual order, is implied by its recurrence even in parts of America where chiefs have become marked off by ascribed nobility; as instance the account quoted by Bancroft of one of the Central American tribes, who "have frequent reunions in their council-house at night. The hall is then lighted up by a large fire, and the people sit with uncovered heads, listening respectfully to the observations and decisions of the ahuales—men over forty years of age, who have occupied public positions, or distinguished themselves in some way." Among peoples unlike in type and remote in locality, we find, modified in detail but similar in general character, this primitive governmental form. Of the Hill tribes of India may be instanced the Khonds, of whom we read that "assemblies of the whole tribe, or of any of its subdivisions, are convened, to determine