Emberá and Wounaan - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Marriages were once largely segregated between Emberá and Wounaan, but mixed marriages now occur. Marriages with outsiders, Blacks, or mestizos are still not common. Group endogamy provides cultural identity and solidarity. The incest-avoidance group includes one's children, brothers, sisters, cousins, and their offspring. Formerly, men sometimes had more than one wife, but monogamy is encouraged today. Approval by the girl's father is still a requisite for a marriage, which is consummated when the suitor sleeps with his bride in the in-laws' house. Playful wrestling occurred between the bride's father or brothers and the groom (Torres de Araúz 1980, 178; Faron 1962). Patrilocal residence and patrilineal clans formerly assembled relatives along riverine sectors. Today there are many different postmarital residence patterns. Patrilocal or matrilocal residence is usually limited to the time that a new house is being constructed for the couple. The new Carta Orgánica institutionalizes marriages under the authority of village leaders and requires one to be 18 years old and to marry another Emberá or Wounaan no closer than "one-fourth degree of blood relations." When divorce occurs, children normally stay with the mother.

Domestic Unit. The household, today averaging six or seven individuals, serves as the basic domestic group in Emberá and Wounaan society. It usually includes one or more couples and their offspring. The household is traditionally directed by the male family head. Subsistence requires group cooperation, and the household continues as the economic, food-sharing unit.

Inheritance. Transfer and inheritance of land and property take place, as traditionally, along kin lines, mostly between males of the same household.

Socialization. Children learn traditions and economic skills through apprenticeship alongside their parents and grandparents. Young children accompany parents during daily chores; by the time they reach 10 years of age, they are contributing their work. Most villages now have elementary schools where children receive primary education. Emberá or Wounaan teachers now account for 35 percent of the comarca's teachers, and bilingual instruction is developing. No villages have high schools, but many students attend high schools in non-Indian towns. University education still lies beyond the economic reach of most people.

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Feb 18, 2016 @ 10:22 pm
My mate and I will be traveling there in march and would like to marry in the local custom. Is this possible? If possible please give me details on how to proceed.

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