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View Full Version : What do you Call a Tribe which Isn't a Tribe?



Mr. Mask
05-21-2013, 05:00 PM
Was having a discussion with a friend of mine, about a tribe in my WIP. We soon realized... it wasn't a tribe.

Essentially, they're a violent group, more like a pirate system for a village community (AKA: A basically democratic system, where the most fearsome, most popular member of the group is the leader). While there is some basic respect for family ties - where the son of the leader stands a good chance of becoming the next leader, blood is thicker than water, and all that kind of jazz - they don't have the kind of reverence for elders and family that makes for a true tribal system.


"Band" or "war band" was one of the suggestions given, for what the group I'm writing about sounds like. I was wondering if there's a better term for this kind of organization? Though violent and regularly at odds with other groups, they aren't always at war, and are primarily hunter gatherers.


So, what should I call them? The word tribe isn't well understood, so I could probably get away with just calling them a tribe--but I'd prefer to be more accurate and not misuse the word.

Kerosene
05-21-2013, 05:07 PM
Clan?

MissAimee
05-21-2013, 05:19 PM
Group or family?

ECathers
05-21-2013, 07:17 PM
Clan connotes family in much the way tribe does. War band or raiding party (or in modern days, gang) seems closest to what you want. Also consider giving them a name rather than calling them any of the above. The Gray Raiders or the Foppish Penguins or something.

Mr. Mask
05-21-2013, 07:32 PM
I do have a name for them. It's just... are they the Foppish Penguins tribe, war band, clan, conglomerate, legion, village, party, or republic?

There is more than one group that works under this way of life in the area, so I wonder if I just have to call them war bands.

Sarpedon
05-21-2013, 08:04 PM
Troupe? (or Troop I suppose if we aren't being french)

Mr. Mask
05-21-2013, 08:14 PM
That one actually fits pretty well, to me at least. Unless someone comes up with something even better, I'll go with that.

ULTRAGOTHA
05-21-2013, 08:20 PM
Essentially, they're a violent group, more like a pirate system for a village community (AKA: A basically democratic system, where the most fearsome, most popular member of the group is the leader). While there is some basic respect for family ties - where the son of the leader stands a good chance of becoming the next leader, blood is thicker than water, and all that kind of jazz - they don't have the kind of reverence for elders and family that makes for a true tribal system.

"Band" or "war band" was one of the suggestions given, for what the group I'm writing about sounds like. I was wondering if there's a better term for this kind of organization? Though violent and regularly at odds with other groups, they aren't always at war, and are primarily hunter gatherers.


How related are they by family ties? Do they live independently from the village community or are they integrated to a certain extent? How much does their daily life revolve around violence? Are they mostly fighters where some of them have non-fighting spouses in the village or do all the spouses and children live and travel with the fighters?

Is the village community agricultural? Does your ‘tribe’ just trade with them? Raid them? Obtain spouses from them? Forcefully or non-forcefully? Do they defend the village community against other ‘tribes’? Are there other hunter-gatherer groups that behave like your ‘tribe’ that are of the same ethnicity but have other territories? Do they interact similarly with other village communities?

Is your ‘tribal’ structure normal for your world or is this band an outlier (as pirates were outliers)?

I’m coming up with band or war band also. Or you could coin your own term. Hunters. Deer-sharers. Foragers. Vikings ;)

Is being violent with other people an important part of one’s identity in this ‘tribe’? Or is being a good hunter more important? If the former they could just call themselves warriors. Or do you want a term for the narrator to call them?

Drachen Jager
05-21-2013, 08:28 PM
Gang, syndicate, house, or guild?

Mr. Mask
05-21-2013, 10:23 PM
How related are they by family ties?

Do they live independently from the village community or are they integrated to a certain extent?

How much does their daily life revolve around violence?

Are they mostly fighters where some of them have non-fighting spouses in the village or do all the spouses and children live and travel with the fighters? Hard to say. Their groups may've started around extended families, but they have a tendency to have disputes within the group. Sometimes, someone kills someone they shouldn't, and so has to flee their troop--and are quickly accepted into another troop.
You probably would still get major families within a troop, of course. Might still be pretty mixed up, with family ties feeling a bit weaker from the tension.

There'd be some integration. You'd end up with your shoemakers, tanners, and the like, when food production is stable (that's one of the reasons you might have to flee, if you killed the only shoemaker).

They're primarily hunter gatherers, so that's a fair amount of violence fending off wolves, hunting and butchering animals. But mainly, violence comes from inter-troop conflicts (sometimes they fight over land, or just for petty reasons), conflicts with outsiders (there are more advanced groups who they attack, or are attacked by), and a volatile nature they've developed from this stimuli which provokes them to kill members of their own troop in petty disputes or while vying for importance in their troop.

When out in raiding parties, or at war in neighbouring lands, it'd mostly be the men with some dependants for support (not to say their dependants aren't dangerous). When defending their own territory, everyone who can fight, or help, does just that.


Is the village community agricultural?

Does your ‘tribe’ just trade with them? Raid them? Obtain spouses from them? Forcefully or non-forcefully?

Do they defend the village community against other ‘tribes’?

Are there other hunter-gatherer groups that behave like your ‘tribe’ that are of the same ethnicity but have other territories? Do they interact similarly with other village communities?If you mean the outsiders, yes. The troops have basic agriculture, but some of them live in places where farming in impossible.

Outsiders are traded with, raided, are sometimes a source of spouses, and normally forcefully when it does occur. This varies based off the troop in question, and their relationship with specific groups of outsiders. Even when you befriend the troops, however, they're likely to cause just as much if not more trouble for you than they would at home.

Sometimes. It depends what they think of the troop you need defending from, what you can pay them, and what your continued trade/whatever is worth to them. If you aren't supplying them with a needed service, they might just join the other troop in raiding you.
Or, if you're lucky, they'll actually get into a dispute with the other troop, over who gets the right to raid you.

Yes, there are a number of troops of the same ethnicity and mostly the same behaviour. Relations with outsiders are pretty variable.


Is your ‘tribal’ structure normal for your world or is this band an outlier (as pirates were outliers)?

I’m coming up with band or war band also. Or you could coin your own term. Hunters. Deer-sharers. Foragers. Vikings ;)

Is being violent with other people an important part of one’s identity in this ‘tribe’? Or is being a good hunter more important?

If the former they could just call themselves warriors. Or do you want a term for the narrator to call them?They're common enough that normal - more advanced - groups are willing to try and coexist with them, inbetween wars. Unless it's possible to wipe them out... that is normally seen as a preferable alternative (generally, though, no one has the manpower for that).

That explains why your questions are so well thought out.
Yeah, I've been thinking of inventing a term for them. Troop is pretty good... but I might still need to invent a term.

Showing off your ability to cause violence is the main way to demonstrate social rank. Being a good hunter, even if more important and practical for the tribe, isn't given as much reverence.

Members of the troop would call themselves warriors, certainly. I've just been looking for a word for the kind of organization they are made up into, for outsiders to refer to different groups.

King Neptune
05-21-2013, 10:43 PM
Teuto might be the word. It is from an Indo-European root and meant war-band. Culturally they were smaller than tribes and often had elected leaders.

ECathers
05-21-2013, 11:05 PM
Teuto, thus Teutonic? Interesting. Hadn't realized it meant war band. That might work well for the OP. My feeling is that since modern English doesn't have the "right" word for the job, making one up or using an archaic term would work best. Teuto would fit the bill.