Parallel Hierarchies and Tribal Communism

Here’s an excellent article explaining how traditional tribal and clan societies are undermined through the introduction of “parallel hierarchies.” These are systems of social organization that by-pass traditional tribe and clan structures. Among the Tlingit, a good example of this would be Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska and ANCSA Corporations. These institutions replaced our traditional clan system.

Parallel Hierarchies and Tribal Communism by Andrew Yeoman

Yeoman explains how governments intentionally destroy clan and tribal systems out of fear of a competing social system:

The primary problem of such an endeavor is the long forgotten cultural memory tribes in a Western context and the on going and indeed terminal weakening of the traditional family unit. These processes can be seen as the direct result of institutional forces that fears a strong ethnonationalist or tribal identity forming within its eminent domain. Key to these institutional forces goals is to destroy any quasi-kinship based bonds based on the assumed blood ties among members of a demographic group.

To counter this colonization of our minds and spirits we need to strengthen our own parallel hierarchies: our clans! Another giant step we can take would be to directly seize control of the education of our children and young people through the implementation of a Tribal College. Remember that a “Tribal College,” for lack of a better term, does not require money, a building or administrators. It just takes a willingness to teach and learn our traditional Tlingit ways and language and apply our tribal ways to a modern world.

More on the undermining of our clan system and traditional leadership structure here: Acknowledgement of Clans and Clan Leaders by Aandeiyeen from Yakutat.

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About Vince

I am a Tlingit, born and raised in Tlingit Country, and a proud member of the Tlingit Nation.
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