Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/72

This page has been validated.
50
[ch.
Chiefs.

and when they came to a fork where the path divided Pauulo Paina made a speech, saying that no fighters, bullies, thieves, or wizards were to follow him. One party then branched off with Pauulo Oou; and lower down a second separation was made, so that in the end three settlements were formed of people who counted themselves of kin. The inhabitants of what is now Saa ani menu received the fugitives with Pauulo Paina, and his descendants in the male line have ever since been the hereditary chiefs[1]. The descendants of the old inhabitants are now but few and of the lower orders, but they are still the owners of the land. It has never occurred to the Saa immigrants to dispossess them; the new-comers remain, even the chiefs, landless men, except so far as a little has been given to them and a little sold; they have always been allowed what they wanted for their gardens, and have been content. When the move was made there was no great difference in speech, and there is none now in words; but the older race speak very slowly, and may be distinguished now by that slow habit of speech.

There are then at Saa, and at the other two settlements founded by the refugees from the ancient Saa, a family of chiefs with a history, and with descent in the male line. All of that family are born in a certain sense chiefs, the eldest son succeeding to the position of his father as principal chief unless he be judged incompetent. If he turns out a bad, vicious man he loses respect and power, and his brother insensibly replaces him. Sometimes a man will retire because he knows his own unfitness[2]. The chief's power therefore

  1. The eleven generations from Pauulo to the present chiefs are kept in mind by the invocation of their successive names in sacrifices.
  2. At the time of writing the above there were three chiefs of high rank at Saa: the ostensible and acting chief was Dorawewe, but he is only the third son of his father, the late head chief. The son and heir of the eldest son was not yet grown up; respect was paid to him for his birth, but he had little power, and the less because his character was bad and he went after women, and so did not gain personal respect. Watehaaodo, uncle on the mother's side to the young man, and himself of the chief's family, was guardian to him, and thence was an important man. It should be observed that thus the particularly close relation