Kin Groups and Descent. The Cree were typical subarctic band societies. The basic unit was a small hunting group or local band made up of one or more extended families and numbering about twenty-five persons. Unity was based on father-son relationships, or cooperation among brothers. The life expectancy of such a band was limited, as sons became adults and developed highly valued personal autonomy. The leader was usually the eldest active male hunter. These winter bands dispersed to hunt the widely distributed nomadic game and to trap relatively sedentary fur-bearing animals. They were usually known by the name of the best-known lake. Regional bands were the largest and most permanent groups, named after some feature of the area, usually a lake at which the people assembled during the summer or some common animal. The regional band was a bilateral grouping, made up of individuals, families, and hunting groups related by primary ties of consanguinity and affinity. They probably numbered from one hundred to two hundred or more. Descent was bilateral, with paternal and maternal relatives equally recognized.
Kinship Terminology. The kinship system was bilateral, with bifurcate merging terminology in the first ascending Generation, and Iroquois cousin terminology in one's own Generation. Males and females were both differentiated on the basis of relative age and sex.