Leadership in Public Arenas

Public leadership among the Canela is primarily male. The first chief (only male) and the council of elders (all male) determine almost all political, social, ceremonial, and judicial matters—internal and external.

Female power lies in the houses, but does not extend even to an entire long1 longhouse. Thus, while male power extends from the plaza to the whole tribe, individual female power does not extend far1 beyond the hearth unit.

The Canela have one festival, the Festival of Oranges, during which they invert the gender roles. In it, two or three men accompany perhaps 100 women on their warlike expedition to obtain food from a backland community. The woman who assumes the full leadership, due to her own powers of persuasion and the respect the women have for her, holds this role only for the few days of the festival.

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