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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/743

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POLITICAL HEADS—CHIEFS, KINGS, ETC.

the like is true with the natives of Australia. By the Fuegians "the word of an old man is accepted as law by the young people." Each party of Rock Veddahs "has a head-man, the most energetic senior of the tribe," who divides the honey, etc. Even with sundry peoples more advanced the like holds. The Dyaks in north Borneo "have no established chiefs, but follow the counsels of the old man to whom they are related"; and Edwards says of the ungoverned Caribs, that "to their old men, indeed, they allowed some kind of authority."

Naturally, in rude societies, the strong hand gives predominance. Apart from the influence of age, "bodily strength alone procures distinction among" the Bushmen. The leaders of the Tasmanians were tall and powerful men: "Instead of an elective or hereditary chieftaincy, the place of command was yielded up to the bully of the tribe." A remark of Sturt's implies a like origin of supremacy among the Australians. Similarly in South America. Of people on the Tapajos, Bates tells us that "the foot-marks of the chief could be distinguished from the rest by their great size and the length of the stride." And in Bedouin tribes "the fiercest, the strongest, and the craftiest obtains complete mastery over his fellows." During higher stages physical vigor long continues to be an all-important qualification; as in Homeric Greece, where even age did not compensate for decline of strength: "an old chief, such as Peleus and Laertes, can not retain his position." And throughout mediæval Europe maintenance of headship largely depended on bodily prowess.

Mental superiority, alone or joined with other attributes, is a common cause of predominance. With the Snake Indians, the chief is no more than "the most confidential person among the warriors." Schoolcraft says of the chief acknowledged by the Creeks, that "he is eminent with the people only for his superior talents and political abilities"; and that over the Comanches "the position of a chief is not hereditary, but the result of his own superior cunning, knowledge, or success in war." A chief of the Coroados is one "who, by his strength, cunning, and courage, had obtained some command over them." And the Ostiaks "pay respect, in the fullest sense of the word, to their chief, if wise and valiant; but this homage is voluntary, and not a prerogative of his position."

Yet another source of governmental power in primitive tribes is largeness of possessions; wealth being at once an indirect mark of superiority and a direct cause of influence. With the Tacullies "any person may become a miuty, or chief, who will occasionally provide a village feast." "Among the Tolewas, in Del Norte County, money makes the chief." And, of the chief-less Navajos we read that "every rich man has many dependents, and these dependents are obedient to his will, in peace and in war."

But, naturally, in societies not yet politically developed, acknowledged superiority is ever liable to be competed with or replaced by