It was also a common system in North America, where the Indians were organized as tribes, with rulers we call "chiefs" but have also been called kings. In some areas, they had "paramount chiefs" who ruled over regional chiefs. Unlike in Mesoamerica, we don't have ancient records of the North American civilizations (which is why we need the Book of Mormon to know their history*). Nevertheless, the civilizations described in the Book of Mormon align with what we know about ancient North America and the traditions that survived until European contact. These are the people designated by the Doctrine and Covenants as Lamanites.
Here's an example of a hierarchy of rulers among Native American Indians from a National Park Service web page, discussing the tribes in the Chesapeake region.
*One wonders why we would need the Book of Mormon to know the history of people living in Central America, because those people left abundant records that archaeologists and linguists can read today. By contrast, the indigenous people in North America--the ones designated as Lamanites in the D&C--did not have written records. Without the Book of Mormon, we would have no way of knowing their history.