1. Political Activities
Politically, the community is a polity called miararuma in the Hla’alua language, and it is also the basic unit of rituals. The Chief is the political head called kapitanʉ or rahli. The chieftainship is inherited by the first son, who is attended to and mentored by the elders in the clan until he is capable of leading the community. The kapitanʉ’s power is to manage community affairs, adjudicate disputes among tribespersons, and give commands to punish tribespersons. However, the Chief’s power is not absolute. Most affairs must be approved by the elder’s council called makarikari. Militarily, the maliialualu is the highest command selected by the elder’s council from among great warriors. Religiously, the tribal priest ʉlʉvʉ is the religious leader selected from among the elders.
2. Economic Activities
Agriculture, mainly slash-and-burn agriculture, is the major industry of the Hla’alua people. They also engage in collection, fishing, hunting, and animal husbandry. The unique shared farming system called kiakucua has two implications. First, owners of adjacent fields farm the common area together to prevent disputes. Second, from the result of service marriage, shared farming is practiced at the groom’s field designated by the bride. These ways of land use have formed the Hla’alua agricultural tradition. Land is inherited by men. If a family has no man for inheritance, the clan will take over the property for farming by families with excessive labor.
3. Tradition and Clan Organization
◎ A family is the basic social unit called ucani pihlingi. Siblings can form their own families only after parents pass away. The family house is salia. It has thatch stalks and a thatch roof. Monogamy featuring patrilocality was strictly practiced in Hla’alua society, while polygamy or matrilocality was rarely practiced. Influenced by the migration of the Bunun and plains indigenous peoples, however, polygamy or matrilocality has increased (Liu, Pin-Hsiung, 1969:85). In addition to the agreement of the bride and groom, a marriage must be approved by the parents of both parties, who also host the wedding. Widows can marry again. However, the wedding must be hosted by the parents of the late husband. Sometimes, a widow may marry the younger brother of the late husband. Matrimony consists of three parts: discussion, engagement, and wedding.
◎ Clan (household)
Hla’alua society practicing endogamy is formed by patrilineal clans called lamaisa or hlipakuamia, with people of the same ancestors. In the 1950 survey, there were 24 Hla’alua clans. In the 1963 survey, only 20 Hla’alua clans of the entire ethnic group survived. During Japanese colonization, clan names were used as family names. Today, only 18 Hla’alua clans survive, including Salapuana, Hlauracana, Tavavulana, Savangʉana, Hlauvuhlana, Tavuiiana, Tumamalikisasʉ, Hlaiputana, Hlapa’ahlica, Iiangʉana, Piana, Tumahlahlasʉnga, Mu’uana, Hlalanguana, Hlatiurana, Hlakuluhlana, Kakuana, and Na’ʉvʉana.