The Dune Encyclopedia
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The Sietch was the typical unit of the Fremen culture and the core of their society. Many sietches existed on Arrakis, and one was capable of containing thousands of people. The sietches did not have a close contact and each individual did not care about how many other sietches besides his, existed.

Ingslei ascribes the term to the language Tamashek of Salusa Secundus.

Each sietch strove to maintain its autonomy while seeking to coordinate with other sietches in the interests of the common struggle as the Council of Leaders. Each sietch maintained its autonomy under its own naib who personified the ideal virtues of the people (even after the coming of Pardot Kynes).

Any authority figure was subsumed under the authority of the whole group. The naib served and spoke for the tribe but did not directly command its members. The Fremen did not need a police force to coerce compliance since any force was internally directed. Deviance from normative standards was rare and was handled by the family unit. All Fremen knew their duty and it was not the function of the naib to define what was meant by "duty."

Each sietch had its council of wise men who would advise the Naib. The council had significant influence because it embodied and expressed the shared myths and traditions, and all Fremen identified with their people's history of grief. The council's interpretations were almost always accepted by the Naib.

All members had the right to express themselves before the council and the persuasive power of the speaker mattered, especially if statements resonated with the collective yearnings of the Fremen. Speakers before the council would seek to link their contentions with the meaningful imagery of Fremen traditions.

Each sietch had a Reverend Mother, a spiritual leader who wielded the authority of history. She was intimately and deeply in contact with all Fremen who had preceded her. She was unquestionable and no Naib could contradict her although she never sought to usurp the powers of the Naib or the council.

The Fremen authority system was transformed utterly under the absolute rulership of Paul Atreides and the Regency that followed.


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