Seminole - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Traditional marriage was matrilocal, and Polygyny—usually sororal—occurred until well within the twentieth century when state laws banning polygyny took precedence. Most today avoid marriage within their clan, with only a few breaking the exogamy ban. Marriage with members of outside communities occurs now, although most Seminole still marry within the Indian group. During the late nineteenth century, outside marriage was looked upon with great disfavor, but much mixed marriage occurred earlier as well as marriage with members of other Indian tribes as the various Southeastern groups joined to create the Seminole in the eighteenth century. Today intermarriage is common. Divorce was simple and at the wish of either partner. Unions under modern law require formal legal divorce for dissolution, but there are many informal liaisons of some duration.

Domestic Unit. The local group today usually comprises nuclear families with older relatives welcome from either side, although relatives of the woman are most common, resulting in a matrilocal extended family. Also common are visiting relatives who may stay for extended periods. Adoption and fostering occur both to give a couple a chance at parenthood and to relieve economic pressures in large families. In camps of chickees, an extra person or so can be housed by constructing another chickee, but in modern housing additional residents make for crowded conditions, and the domestic group tends to be smaller.

Inheritance. Aboriginally, land was controlled through the clan system. Personal property could be passed on according to individual wishes. Today the clans control no property, and inheritance is according to legal wills or by state law under intestacy. Except for houses and automobiles, there is little for anyone to inherit.

Socialization. The mother's brother was the authority figure during the early period. He punished children Occasionally by whipping but more often by scratching them with garfish teeth. Less severe punishment came in the form of gossip and ridicule by family and neighbors or ostracism of the miscreant. One's mother's brother is still respected, but today parents are responsible for raising children. Child rearing is generally permissive. Increasingly the school and church have become important agencies in socializing children to fit into outside society.


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