Kin Groups and Descent. The extended family was the basis of Maliseet social organization. In addition to their European names, many families had nicknames derived from animal names. For example, the Pauls were the "Pikswicik" (people of the pig), and the Sappiers were the "Kahkakuswicik" (people of the crow). Only a few families have a legend and/or a myth that accounts for the origin of the nickname. In most cases membership in these groupings is through the male line. Traditional family nicknames are no longer very important, but at the beginning of the twentieth century they connoted ethnicity. Families carrying the nickname of a nondomesticated animal were regarded as ethnically more Maliseet. Today, membership in a large family unit is Important for gaining band office, since relatives are expected to vote for relatives.
Kinship Terminology. The terms for mother, mother's sister, and father's sister are distinct. Cousin terms, however, follow the Iroquois system, although kin term usage bristles with exceptions. At the present time Maliseet kin terms have largely disappeared unless their references closely parallel English usage.