Kin Groups and Descent. Descent is bilateral. The inhabitants of a village or a cluster of neighboring villages consider themselves to belong to a single localized kin group, which according to tradition is endogamous. In practice, however, intermarriage between many villages is the rule, resulting in complex, widespread kin networks. Hence it is really impossible to establish any boundaries between overlapping kin groups. The proximity or distance of kin relations is defined in terms of an individual's personal kindred ( pammanakang ), which encompasses his or her consanguineal relatives as well as the latters' spouses. Although the definition of a person's kindred is very important for marriage strategy (since marriage taboos are formulated with respect to the pammanakang), the evaluation of social rank depends largely on membership in bilateral descent groups (ramages). The members of any such ramage trace their descent to a real or fictive ancestor through either father or mother. Like the village kin groups, ramages are not localized, but rather comprise countless numbers of individuals who are dispersed all over the country. Distinct terms are only applied to those ramages in which membership entitles one to succession to traditional political offices. Since all ramages are agamous, most individuals are members of two or more descent groups, which in addition are ordered hierarchically. Though descent is traced equally through males and females, patrilateral kin ties are emphasized in regard to succession to an office. On the other hand, there is a tendency to focus on matrilateral relations for the organization of rituals relating to the founding ancestors of a ramage.
Kinship Terminology. A terminology of the Eskimo type is used. Terminological differentiation of gender is confined to the terms for father, mother, husband, and wife, while in all other cases a "female" or "male" is added to the respective term of reference. Aside from the terms for "younger sibling" and "elder sibling," the age of relatives is sometimes indicated by adding a "young" or "old" to the term of reference. Teknonymy is common, though not the rule.