Re: War

Gil Hardwick (
Thu, 01 Jun 1995 03:41:12 GMT

In article <>, Katrin Kerner (K.KERNER@UMWELT.ECOLINK.ORG) writes:
>I apologize for not simply reseaching this myself -- I'm sure there is a
>wealth of information readily available. Nevertheless, I ask someone to
>take the time to briefly tell me about the nature and frequency of warfare
>among or within hunter-gatherer societies. Is the pattern of warfare
>within these groups indistinguishable from that seen when there is some
>form of significant agrarian dependency?

Here in Australia they don't engage in "war" as such, although many
battles. Among the Tiwi usually a battle will be called on ceremonial
ground over differences of opinion between two individuals, while all
their kinfolk are simply obligated to take up their defence against
the adversary.

Even then, taking turns at throwing spears or fight sticks is highly
ritualised, and the moment blood is drawn that side is the loser and
everyone stops fighting and goes home.

In the aftermath the two individuals at the centre of the dispute
will no doubt be roundly castigate by their womenfolk over the fact
that one of their friends had been hurt or killed over their stupid
arguing, and during the next round of Kulama ceremonies the events
will be sung over again and again until the entire matter is put to

Elsewhere, raiding parties of vigilantes may be formed to go after
other bands over some offence or other, but those too are strictly
in accordance with rigid protocol. If ANY of the participants steps
out of line or is excessive in their retributions, they will always be
summarily executed by their own people.

Ted Strehlow has an excellent account of such a transaction among the
Southern Aranda (Arrerndt) in his book, Journey to Horseshoe Bend, if
you are still able to get hold of a copy.