Kin Groups and Descent. The Rom population in North America is organized almost entirely on basis of kinship. Students of American Rom disagree in their interpretations of kinship. Gropper and Sutherland describe descent as cognatic or bilateral; Gropper, however, recognizes the patrilineal emphasis in rules of residence. In my view, descent ideology is patrilineal, as expressed frequently by the statement: "We always go by the father." In practice, rare exceptions occur. The patrilineally extended family is generally the largest functioning unit in the society. Patrilineally related males work together, pool their money for bride-price, defend Common fortune-telling territories against outside threats, and exhibit solidarity at public gatherings. Women's lineages are considered not to matter, as expressed by the statement referring to marriage: "The girls are thrown away." Above the Family are the lineage and the clan, which generally give the group its name; sometimes the names of lineage founders are used in addition to the clan name. Thus an individual may identify himself as being a Rom of the Kalderash tribe, Mineshti clan, Demitro lineage, the son of Zurka, known by the name of Wasso. Both the clan and the lineage are referred to by the term vitsa, which originates in the Romanian word meaning a "stem."
Kinship Terminology. Eskimo-type kinship terms are used. Most of the terminology derives from Indic roots, although some has been borrowed from Romanian and possibly from other European languages. It differs from common European kinship terms primarily by equating grandchildren with nieces and nephews and in emphasizing terms defining relationships among affines, the parties to marriage contracts.