Nootka - Marriage and Family

Marriage. A boy's preferred marriage partner was a distant relative in his tribe. Marriage was a formai alliance between a bride's and groom's social group and was initiated by the groom's parents. Marriages, particularly those between high-ranking families, were carefully arranged by a group's elders, since significant privileges were passed from parents to children.

Domestic Unit. A nuclear family's right to reside in a house-group was determined by tracing their kinship connections back to an ancestor of the group that controlled the house. Once that social link was made, a family was allowed to reside within a house-group, but had to participate in that group's social and economic activities during its residency there. Families changed house-groups by following the same procedure.

Inheritance. Access to economic property, such as fishing and hunting grounds, as well as ceremonial rights and privileges were inherited through ambilineal kinship lines. Ceremonial names were one of the most important inherited properties.

Socialization. Childbirth was a private matter; dietary restrictions were observed by both parents. Magic was used to ensure a child's healthy development. Infants were placed on a cradle board and wrapped in shredded cedar-bark cloth. As a mark of beauty, young children had their foreheads slightly flattened by a cedar-bark pad attached to the cradle board. The Nootka were affectionate and indulgent parents. Shame, not slapping or spanking, was a common method used to modify children's behavior.

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