Kin Groups and Descent. Descent among the Ngawbe is cognatic. No clans or lineages exist, and there is no strong evidence for the existence of unilineal descent groups in the past. As a general rule, a person's kin group consists of all individuals known to be related through the second ascending generation. Residence in the same hamlet, as well as geographic distance and personal acquaintance, may alter this basic equation.
Kinship Terminology. Ngawbe kinship terms generally distinguish sex and generation. Terms are bifurcate-merging in the first ascending generation, meaning that father and father's brother are referred to by a single term and mother's brother by a distinct term, and mother and mother's sister are referred to by a single term and father's sister by a distinct term. Cousin terms are Hawaiian, that is, all individuals recognized as cousins are referred to by terms for siblings. Sibling terms refer to siblings of the same sex and siblings of the opposite sex.