Tribal Association

Tribal Association


a form of social organization during the period of the disintegration of the primitive communal system. Tribal associations developed in conjunction with the spread of predatory warfare and the need for defense, which necessitated the unification of tribes into larger social structures. Early tribal associations existed among North American Indians. They included the League of the Iroquois and the confederacies of the Creek and Prairie tribes. The associations were apparently based on the equality and independence of all members, which corresponded to the equality that continued to exist among all the members of the individual tribes.

The further disintegration of primitive society usually led to the transformation of tribal associations into hierarchies of ruling and subordinate tribes, which were controlled by the leaders of the ruling tribes. Associations of this kind are known to have existed among the Melanesians of New Caledonia and the Fiji Islands, the Tuareg of the Sahara, and the Bedouin of Arabia. The development of tribal associations was accompanied by the strengthening of the economic and cultural ties between member tribes, regardless of whether they were related by blood. Intermarriage resulted in the gradual transformation of tribal society into a new form of ethnic community—the nationality.

Some scholars believe that a special transitional form of ethnic community developed between the tribe and the nationality—a societal form that has been called the multitribal community.


Engels, F. “Proiskhozhdenie sem’i, chastnoi sobstvennosti i gosudarstva.” In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch. 2nd ed., vol. 21.
Morgan, L. H. Drevnee obschestvo, 2nd ed. Leningrad, 1935. (Translated from English.)
Bromlei, Iu. V. Etnos i etnografiia. Moscow, 1973.


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