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§ 6. "A state," said Maj. J. W. Powell, in his presidential address to the Anthropological Society of Washington, in 1882, "is a body politic, an organized group of men with an established government, and a body of determined law. In the organization of societies units of different orders are discovered." Among the Omahas and other tribes of the Siouan family, the primary unit is the gens or clan, which is composed of a number of consanguinei, claiming descent from a common ancestor, and having a common taboo or taboos. But starting from the tribe or state as a whole, we find among the Omahas two half-tribes of five gentes each, the first called "Hañga-cenu," and the second, "Icta-sanda." (See § 10.) These half-tribes do not seem to be phratries, as they do not possess the rights of the latter as stated by Morgan: the Hañga-cenu gentes never meet by themselves apart from the Icta-sanda gentes.

Next to the half-tribes are the gentes, of which the Omahas have ten. Each gens in turn is divided into "uʞigc̷asne," or subgentes. The number of the latter varies, at present, according to the particular gens; though the writer has found traces of the existence of four subgentes in each gens in former days. The subgentes seem to be composed of a number of groups of a still lower order, which are provisionally termed "sections." The existence of sections among the Omahas had been disputed by some, though other members of the tribe claim that they are real units of the lowest order. We find among the Titoⁿ-waⁿ Dakotas, many of these groups, which were originally sections, but which have at length become gentes, as the marriage laws do not affect the higher groups, the original phratries, gentes, and subgentes:

The Ponka chiefs who were in Washington in 1880, claimed that in their tribe there used to be eight gentes, one of which has become extinct; and that now there are ten, three subgentes having become gentes in recent times. According to Mr. Joseph La Flèche, a Ponka by birth, who spent his boyhood with the tribe, there are but seven gentes, one having become extinct; while the Wajaje and Nuqe, which are now the sixth and seventh gentes, were originally one. For a fuller discussion of the gentes see the next chapter.

The state, as existing among the Omahas and cognate tribes, may be termed a kinship state, that, is, one in which "governmental functions are performed by men whose positions in the government are determined by kinship, and rules relating to kinship and the reproduction of

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the species constitute the larger body of the law. The law regulates marriage and the rights and duties of the several members of a body of kindred to each other. Individuals are held responsible," chiefly "to their kindred; and certain groups of kindred are held responsible," in some cases, "to other groups of kindred. When other conduct, such as the distribution of game taken from the forest or fish from the sea, is regulated, the rules or laws pertaining thereto involve the considerations of kinship," to a certain extent. (See Chapter XII, § 303.)


§ 7. The legislative, executive, and judicial functions have not been differentiated. (See Government, Chapter XI.) Whether the second mode of differentiation has taken place among the Omahas, and just in the order described by Major Powell, is an open question. This mode is thus stated: "Second, by the multiplication of the orders of units and the specialization of the subordinate units so that subordinate organizations perform special functions. Thus cities may be divided into wards, counties into towns." Subgentes, as well as gentes, were necessary among the Omahas for marriage purposes, as is shown in §§ 57, 78, etc. The recent tendency has been to centralization or consolidation, whereas there are strong reasons for believing that each gens had four subgentes at the first; several subgentes having become few in number of persons have been united to the remaining and more powerful subgentes of their respective gentes.

The third mode of differentiations of organs in the State is "by multiplication of corporations for specific purposes." The writer has not yet been able to find any traces of this mode among the Omahas and cognate tribes.

§ 8. Two classes of organization are found in the constitution of the State, "those relating directly to the government, called major organizations, and those relating indirectly to the government, called minor organizations." The former embraces the State classes, the latter, corporations.


These have not been clearly differentiated.. Three classes of men have been recognized: Níkagáhi, wanáce, and cénujiñ'ga. In civil affairs, the nikagahi are the chiefs, exercising legislative, executive, and judicial functions. They alone have a voice in the tribal assembly, which is composed of them. The wanace, policemen, or braves, are the servants or messengers of the chiefs, and during the surround-

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ing of a herd of buffalo, they have extraordinary powers conferred on them. (See §§ 140 and 297.)

The cenujiñga, or young men, are the "common people," such as have not distinguished themselves, either in war or in any other way. They have no voice in the assembly, and during the buffalo hunt they must obey the chiefs and wanace.

In religious affairs, which are closely associated with civil ones, we find the chiefs having a prominent part. Besides the chiefs proper are the seven keepers of the sacred pipes, or pipes of peace (see §§ 14–19. 287, 296), and the keepers of the three sacred tents (see §§ 13, 22–24. 36, 295). The functions of these keepers of the sacred tents, especially those of the two Hañga men, appear to be both religious and civil. Of these two men, ac̷iⁿ-naⁿpajĭ said: "The two old men, Wakaⁿ' maⁿc̷iⁿ and e-haⁿ'maⁿc̷iⁿ, are the real governors of the tribe, and are counted as gods. They are reverenced by all, and men frequently give them presents. They mark the tattooed women." Frank La Flèche denied this, saying that these two old men are the servants of the Hañga chief, being only the keepers of the sacred tents of his gens. J. La Flèche and Two Crows said that while there were some "níkacin'ga qubé," sacred or mysterious men, among the Omahas, they did not know who they were. Some of the chiefs and people respect them, but others despise them. It is probable that by nikacinga grebe, they meant exorcists or conjurers, rather than priests, as the former pretend to be "qube," mysterious, and to have supernatural communications.

There is no military class or gens among the Omahas, though the Ponka C̸ixida gens, and part of the Nikadaɔna gens are said to be warriors. Among the Omahas, both the captains and warriors must be taken from the class of cenujiñga, as the chiefs are afraid to undertake the work of the captains. The chiefs, being the civil and religious leaders of the people, cannot serve as captains or even as subordinate officers of a war party. Nor can they join such a party unless it be a large one. Their influence is exerted on the side of peace (see §§ 191, 292), and they try to save the lives of murderers. (See § 310.) They conduct peace negotiations between contending tribes. (See §§ 220, 292.)

All the members of a war party, including the captains, lieutenants, and wanace, as well the warriors, are promoted to the grade or class of (civil) wanace on their return from battle. (See § 216.)


There are no slaves; but there are several kinds of servants called wáguqc̷an. In civil and religions affairs, the following are wáguqc̷an. The two keepers of the Hañga sacred tents are the servants of the Hañga chief. (See above, § 295, etc.) One of these old men is always the servant of the other though they exchange places. (See § 151.) The keepers of the sacred pipes are the servants of the chiefs. (See §§ 17–19). The C̸atada Quʞa man is the servant of the keepers of the

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sacred tents. (See § 143.) Some of the Wasabe-hit'aji men are servants of the Wejincte gens, acting as such in the sacred tent. (See §§ 23, 24.) Some of the Iñke-sabĕ men are the servants of the Hañga when they act as criers (see §§ 130, 136, etc.), and so is a ʞaⁿze man (§ 152). The wanace are the servants of the chiefs. The wagc̷a or messengers acting as criers for a feast are the servants of the giver of the feast for the time being.

In military affairs, the following are servants: The men who act as wagc̷a for the preliminary feast; the men who carry the baggage of the captains and wait on them; the bearer of the kettle; the bearers of the sacred bags when there is a large party; the special followers of each captain, including his lieutenant, the followers or warriors being about equally divided between the captains; and the wanace or policemen. (See War Customs, Chapter IX.)

Social classes are undifferentiated. Any man can win a name and rank in the state by becoming "wacuce," or brave, either in war or by the bestowal of gifts and the frequent giving of feasts. (See §224.)


Corporations are minor organizations, which are indirectly related to the government, though they do not constitute a part of it. The Omahas are organized into certain societies for religious, industrial, and other ends. There are two kinds, the Ikágekíc̷ĕ or brotherhoods, and the Úkikunec̷ĕ, or feasting organizations. The former are the dancing societies, to some of which the doctors belong. A fuller description of them will be found in Chapter X.

The industrial organization of the state will be discussed in Chapters VII, VIII, IX, X, and XI.