- "Our only concern is the welfare of the tribe."
The High Matriarchs are the leaders of the Nora tribe. Their main role is to lead the tribe and make decisions in times of crisis, oversee certain ceremonies and rituals, and judge and sentence tribe members if they commit crimes. There are both High Matriarchs and lesser Matriarchs in the tribe.
The year that Aloy was accepted back into the tribe and competed in the Proving, the Nora tribe had three High Matriarchs and about thirty lesser Matriarchs. Teersa, Lansra, and Jezza were the three High Matriarchs in charge at the time, and all had been so at least since Aloy was born.
Role in the Nora
The High Matriarchs act as the leaders of the Nora tribe, overseeing major rituals such as the Naming ceremonies and the Proving. Their other responsibilities are to teach, offer counsel, and give blessings to the tribe members. When necessary, they are also called upon to judge, and are responsible for sentencing a tribe member to be an outcast for a certain period of time. In times of great need, the High Matriarchs may anoint a Seeker, a worthy Brave sent forth to accomplish a great purpose. Although the High Matriarchs typically make decisions together, occasionally one may act without the agreement of the others, as when Teersa oversaw Aloy's Naming ceremony in spite of Lansra's obvious disapproval.
In a conversation with Aloy, Teersa explains that there are both Matriarchs and High Matriarchs. Matriarchs are women with two generations of living progeny (grandmothers with both living children and grandchildren). High Matriarchs are women with three or more generations (great-grandmothers with children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren). The extent of the Matriarchs role is unknown, but possibly more limited than the High Matriarchs, who appear to hold the major leadership role of the tribes.
It is uncertain if, when they become a grandmother or great-grandmother, a woman automatically becomes a Matriarch or High Matriarch or if they must request it. In a conversation with Aloy, the healer Enara confirms that losing a generation of progeny means being demoted, either to Matriarch or an Elder, confirming that it is not a permanent appointment.
- Teersa explains that, because they have many generations to their name, Matriarchs and High Matriarchs speak for those generations, lending weight to their opinions. Essentially, the more living descendants a woman has, the more authority she has in leading the tribe.
- The role of the Matriarchs is in keeping with the importance of mothers in the Nora culture.
- It is implied that one High Matriarch may have more authority over the others, as Lansra's attire and headdress is more elaborate than the others'. However, it could also mean that Lansra may have more descendants than the other Matriarchs and thus has the honor of a more elaborate headdress.