A meeting of the Elders of the village was held today. This happens on the morn after every full moon and is held in the Meeting House, a large open shelter with wooden floor, just next to the storehouse. This building is large enough to seat the whole tribe, but meetings of the Elders are generally private. I would have loved to observe, but as a new visitor, did not feel it my place to ask. Maybe in the coming months, I will have built enough trust amongst these people to be invited to attend for the sake of my research.
Apart from Kattan, the Chief Elder, there are seven other Elders, both men and women. I have asked Kattan about how the Elders are selected. The Elders themselves, it seems, are chosen by the tribe – all those old enough to have taken their ‘sharesh’ (a journey outside the Veil protecting the forest). The Chief Elder, however, is chosen by Arrakesh, the Spirit of the forest. The people believe that the Treespeaker alone will hear the name Arrakesh chooses and announce it to his people. So the role of Chief Elder is inherently a religious one, founded on faith; an interesting way to choose a leader, but one which, at least in Kattan’s case, seems to work well. The Chief Elder is able to choose his own Deputy from amongst the Elders.
The Treespeaker also attended the meeting of the Elders, a normal occurrence apparently. According to Kattan, he is there as a guide to the Will of Arrakesh in all decisions. That the tribe places such trust in one so young does not seem to affect Jakan in any way. He displays no pretentiousness, just a serious consciousness of his role.
Little attention was given to the meeting by the other villagers. They went about their daily tasks without so much as glancing at the Meeting House. Tomorrow, one villager told me, any decisions affecting them will be discussed at a general meeting, along with any problems that any one may wish to bring up for discussion. I look forward to seeing how this meeting is run.