Kin Groups and Descent. The basic unit of social life is the autonomous matrilineage, seldom of more than forty members, which functions as a very strongly corporate, property-holding, marriage-arranging, and bride-wealth-collecting unit. Traditionally, it was jurally responsible for all its members' actions, and it held life-and-death and selling rights over its members. It is also the unit of all mystical and ritual functions. The lineage is localized within an area of convenient communication (some twenty kilometers across), its membership dispersed among the villages of this neighborhood; the lineage owns one of the villages, which serves as its headquarters, and in which its head (its oldest male) resides. Lineage dispersal results from Suku residence rules. Upon marriage, a woman joins her husband. A man resides near his father at least until the father's death and usually with the father's brothers after that. As they grow older, the men trickle into the lineage headquarters. Several such autonomous but related matrilineages recognized their common identity through occasional actions such as a symbolic sharing of bride-wealth receipts. They regard themselves as chapters of a larger kin group: thus, a member of one lineage, moving into the neighborhood of another, will be incorporated into the latter. In addition to the matrilineage, the Suku also recognize what might be called a patrikindred or a truncated patrilineage that includes all patridescendants of one's father and his patribrothers.
Kinship Terminology. The pattern of the kinship terminological system is Iroquois. It is skewed in a Crow manner in that upon the demise of the father's generation in the father's lineage, the father's sisters' sons succeed to its social and terminological position and all the linked relatives are reclassified accordingly. Beyond the active core of the kin network (including mainly those in one's matrilineage, father's matrilineage, and patrikindred and their spouses, and one's wife's matrilineage), the kin terms are infinitely extendable through successive recognizable links.