Inughuit - Marriage and Family

Marriage. There was no formal wedding ceremony. Couples simply informed their neighbors that they were married, although it was usual to ask for the parents' consent. Couples who acted as if they were married were treated as such. A skilled person was preferred as a marriage partner, although romantic love was a consideration as well. Monogamy was the rule, with the few polygynous marriages lasting only a few years. Numerous deaths owing to accidents and illness meant that many men and women married more than once. A girl who had already shown her ability to have children was a desirable partner. Newlyweds would first settle with the parental family that had room and then establish their own home. Divorce was not common, and trial marriages were used to encourage marital stability. Childlessness was reason for divorce.

Domestic Unit. Small extended families were common. A young couple would follow their parents, and the parents, when old, would follow their children; thus, it was important to have children. Boys, seen as future providers, were preferred, although female infanticide for that reason alone was not practiced. Infanticide, once used in times of starvation, has now been abandoned with the availability of food in stores.

Inheritance. In traditional times, the few personal possessions of the deceased were placed on the grave. Danish law is now followed.

Socialization. Children learned the requisite skills by imitating their parents or other relatives of the same sex. Children were treated as adults with parents either suggesting a better way to do something or allowing the children to learn from their mistakes. Because lnughuit are now Danish citizens, school is mandatory and is taught in either West Greenlandic or Danish.

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