Saami - Marriage and Family



Marriage. Marriage is monogamous. Sometimes cross cousins or double cross cousins marry, which is advantageous for nucleation of herding groups. Constraints on marriage include compatibility of the partners' subsistence bases. The merging of two large reindeer livestock holdings or two very small holdings would each be marginally viable arrangements (given some combination of labor requirements, pasturage availability, and herd controllability), as would be the Marriage of two persons having the responsibilities associated with ultimogeniture, or two persons committed to incommensurable livelihoods. Within these limits, individuals Usually choose their own mates, marrying sometimes after a family has been started. Postmarital residence is neolocal, although flexible, as in the case of an ultimogeniture heir apparent, who remains at home. When a newly formed family continues in the subsistence livelihood of one or another of the spouses, they reside so as to take advantage of their familiarity with the area. Divorce seldom occurs, either formally or informally.

Domestic Unit. The domestic unit is the nuclear family, from which individuals disperse and regroup (also across household lines) owing to activities requiring constant mobility.


Inheritance. In reindeer-breeding families, each Individual, regardless of age or gender, owns livestock. Saami Inheritance is constrained by the various practices of the dominant society. Following Saami tradition, however, inheritance of parental dwellings, plots, livestock, resource-utilization locations, and other wealth—as well as the responsibility of caring for elderly parents—will commonly fall to the youngest child.


Socialization. Children learn at their own pace through opportunistic imitation. They are seldom explicitly instructed or disciplined. Versatility and individuality are rewarded.


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