Political Organization
Territory

How are territorial boundaries determined?
1. They trace their territorial ownership through family lineage to there ancestors originating from totems. Land ownership is said to be given to them by God.
2. Those that trace their ownership through the male line have stronger claim on land ownership.
3. There is much disagreement on land ownership. The final authority is the government.
4. It is generally agreed upon by the majority as to which `big man or men' have authority in a given territory.

Are certain territorial boundaries set by the government for purposes of government control?

Magistrates have a marked territory that they are responsible for. Under their authority are the police and committee members which are in turn responsible for their smaller areas.
GOVERNMENT

What type of governmental system do the Loko people have?
The people really function under two governing systems. One we would call "informal government" and the other would be "formal government".
Informal government:
This is the set of internal principals indigenous to the culture that maintain social control primarily through the Loko kinship system.
Loko government is primarily clan based in that the functions of government are provided by clan leaders as defined by the Loko culture and kinship system.
Each clan is not autonomous but there is much interdependence
among the clans on a both social and political level.
The clan leaders take positions of responsibility as the need arises (ie. deciding between quarreling parties as judge, making policy as in legislation, providing leadership during a fight as military commanders, punishing social offenders as the police) but when the need is met the particular leadership role is abandoned for normal everyday living again.
A mans own family and relatives would insure that he was dealt with fairly by presenting his case before the people and asking for justice, etc.
Any cases that are not settled within this system could then be taken before the government representatives in the area.
Formal government:
This system was externally imposed upon the people when Australia brought governmental control upon the islands a few decades ago.
It is democratic in nature in that officials are elected by the people. These positions are maintained (with a monthly wage) for a prescribed period of time after which there is a new election.
Note: These conclusions will primarily be speaking about the informal government system indigenous to Loko society.

Who are the leaders within Loko culture?
1. Many positions of leadership are appointed by the PNG democratic government system. They are voted in by their piers. Example: magistrates and up, police, committee etc. Their sphere of influence is then determined by the government.
2. Loko tribal leadership is less defined, but is primarily dependent upon positions within their lineage. The first born male is recognized as the leader in the family. If they have inherited land as well, then their leadership extends to those people living on the property. The sphere of influence is also dependent on leadership ability and diligence to fill the role of a leader as determined by Loko culture.
(See also Social Stratification under Social Organization for the qualifications of `big men').

Do the Loko people have any sort of governing board of elders?
1. Committee members: Are the government representatives for local areas. They handle small disputes and are mouth pieces for the local government.
2. `Big men': Discuss and make decisions concerning matters affecting those under their sphere of tribal influence.

Is there any supreme authority within the Loko governing system?
(See Social Stratification under Social Organization.)
Warfare

To what extent do the members of one clan relate to the members of another clan?
1. When an offense is incurred by an individual(s) from one clan and a member of another was directly responsible the two clans often fight or bring the disagreement to court. Individuals are seldom if ever without support from their clan members in instances of involvement with other clans.
2. Neighboring clans become allies to fight a common enemy.

Is there at present any form of military organization within the Loko culture?
There is no formal local military organization, only on the PNG government level. But there is an inherent military system which is clan based usually using the leadership structure existing within the kinship system.

How do the people mobilize for war?
If a large force was to be mobilized because of the threat of war, then the existing leadership structure would take on the function of military leadership. For example, a big man respected by a number of villages would send word to the respective village headmen who would intern seek to mobilize those within their village area to prepare for war, etc.

Do the Loko people still war with neighboring tribes?
In times past the Loko people fought with other clans or language groups often for little reason. The fighting continued as the groups would continue to `pay back' one another for offenses. War is now seldom more than a threat which one group makes to another. This is do to government control.

How were wars conducted?
1. In times of war, villages were built around mountains or large trees with fences built around the whole area forming a fortress. The mountain or large tree was used for refuge and military advantage in case of attack.
2. Their weapons which they still use today (mostly for show) are spears, sharpened bones, shields, and sticks. Pigs teeth and lime are worn to frighten the opponent. Various rituals are used to produce strength and to influence the outcome of the battle. Black magic is still used and very much feared as a weapon,

How are inter-clan skirmishes brought to an end?
If blood is shed they are consummated by the transfer of fines. For example, if two clans were fighting because a pig belonging to a member of one clan had eaten out of the garden of the member of another clan, then to settle the dispute a pig from each clan would be killed and given to the other clan along with some shell money.

How were inter-tribal wars brought to an end?
It seems that in the distant past, the same custom was performed to end a war. A transfer of fines was practiced. Although in the resent past this practice was discontinued. After some dialogue, they would just leave off fighting and go back to their villages. They say they won't transfer fines in that the other tribe is not family. The are just enemies.
Head-hunting

Is there any history of head-hunting in the Loko culture?
There is no evidence of head-hunting among the Loko people.

Back to Tribes
Back to Tribes