In the study of the organization of societies, units of different orders are discovered. Among the tribes of the Siouan family the primary unit is the clan or gens, which is composed of a number of conesanguinei, claiming descent from a common ancestor and having common taboos; the term clan implying descent in the female line, while gens implies descent in the male line. Among the Dakota, as among the C̸egiha and other groups, the man is the head of the family.

Several of the Siouan tribes are divided into two, and one (the Osage) is divided into three subtribes. Other tribes are composed of phratries, and each subtribe or phratry comprises a number of gentes. In some tribes each gens is made up of subgentes, and these in turn of a lower order of groups, which are provisionally termed sections for want of a better designation. The existence of these minor groups among the Omaha has been disputed by some, though other members of the tribe claim that they are real units of the lowest order. Among the Teton many groups which were originally sections have become gentes, for the marriage laws do not affect the original phratries, gentes, and subgentes.

The state, as existing among the Siouan tribes, may be termed a kinship state, in that the governmental functions are performed by men whose offices are determined by kinship, and in that the rules relating to kinship and reproduction constitute the main body of the recognized law. By this law marriage and the mutual rights and duties of the several members of each body of kindred are regulated. Individuals are held responsible chiefly to their kindred; and certain groups of kindred are in some cases held responsible to other groups of kindred. When other conduct, such as the distribution of game taken in the forest or fish from the waters, is regulated, the rules or laws pertaining thereto involve, to a certain extent, the considerations of kinship.

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The legislative, executive, and judicative functions have not been differentiated in Indian society as found among the Siouan groups. Two tendencies or processes of opposite character have been observed among the tribes, viz, consolidation and segregation. The effects of consolidation are conspicuous among the Omaha, Kansa, Osage, and Oto, while segregation has affected the social organization among the Kansa, Ponka, and Teton. There have been instances of emigration from one tribe to another of the same linguistic family; and among the Dakota new gentes have been formed by the adoption into the tribe of foreigners, i. e., those of a different stock.

Two classes of organization are found in the constitution of the state, viz, (1) major organizations, which relate directly to government, and (2) minor organizations, which relate only indirectly to government. The former embraces the state functionaries, the latter comprises corporations.

Although the state functionaries are not clearly differentiated, three classes of such men have been recognized: chiefs, policemen or soldiers, and young men or "the common people." The chiefs are the civil and religious leaders of the masses; the policemen are the servants of the chiefs; the young men are such as have not distinguished themselves in war or in any other way. These last have no voice in the assembly, which is composed of the chiefs alone. Among the Omaha there is no military class, yet there is a war element which is regulated by the Elk gens. The C̸ixida gens and part of the Nikadaɔna gens of the Ponka tribe are considered to be the warriors of the tribe, though members of other gentes have participated in war. In the Kansa tribe two gentes, the Large Hañga and the Small Hañga, form the phratry connected with war, though warriors did not necessarily belong to those gentes alone. In the Osage camping circle all the gentes on the right side are war gentes, but the first and second, reckoning from the van, are the soldiers or policemen; while all the gentes camping on the left are associated with peace, though their first amid second gentes, reckoning from the van, are policemen or soldiers. Among the Omaha both officers and warriors must be taken from the class of "young men," as the chiefs are afraid to act as leaders in war; and among both the Omaha and the Ponka the chief's, being the civil and religious leaders of the people, can not serve as captains, or even as members, of an ordinary war party, though they may fight when the whole tribe engages war. Among the Dakota, however, chiefs have led in time of war.

Corporations among the Siouan tribes are minor organizations, indirectly related to the government, though they do not constitute a part of it. The Omaha, for instance, and perhaps other tribes of the family, are organized into certain societies for religious, industrial, and other ends. There are two kinds of societies, the brotherhoods and the feasting organizations. The former are the dancing societies, to some of which the physicians belong.

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Social classes are undifferentiated. Any man can win a name and rank in the section, gens, phratry, tribe, or nation by bravery in war or by generosity in the bestowal of presents and the frequent giving of feasts. While there are no slaves among the Siouan tribes, there are several kinds of servants in civil, military, and religious affairs.