Papago politics : group dynamics, adaptation to local conditions, and the decision-making process
James, Howard I.
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The purpose of this study was to test whether or not the successes and failures of Indian self-government relate to the same factors that affect the successes and failures of federal administration of Indians. Laura Thompson (1951) concluded from the Indian Personality and Administration Research Project that success of federal administration of Indians depended upon the adaptation of federal services to local conditions. John Collier (1954) considered that one of the intentions of the Indian Reorganization Act was to encourage the tribes to make decisions through their own group processes, or group dynamics. This study analyzes how much the success of a tribal government in utilizing group dynamics relates to the adaptation of its services to local conditions. The Papago Tribe served as a test case for the problem presented. The minutes of the Papago Tribal Council from June 1966 to July 1967 were the source of data. Because the Papago were not organized aboriginally as a tribe, there are no tribal group dynamics to utilize. However, aboriginally there were lower levels of organization that now influence the decisions of the Tribal Council. The group dynamics were considered to be utilized when these levels were active in the decision-making process. To test whether or not success in utilizing group dynamics relates to adaptation of services to local conditions, I used a description of local conditions to anticipate which types of services would and would not derive from group dynamics. This was compared with the services of the Tribal Council recorded in the minutes of their meetings that actually did and did not derive from group dynamics. Local conditions are cultural, social, and psychological. Cultural conditions are values, norms, and customs that serve as guidelines for action. Social conditions are the structure of the interaction. Psychological conditions are inferred from a description of Papago modal personality. Two idealized types of Papagos, "traditional" and "acculturated," differ in cultural orientation, relation to the social structure, personality, and role in self-government. The majority of Papago fit into the traditional class while the minority of acculturated fill most of the leadership positions. I anticipated that those political services of the Tribal Council that were adapted to traditional local conditions would derive from group dynamics while those that were not would not derive from group dynamics.