Kin Groups and Descent. The Slavey had no clans or unilineal descent groups. Kinship was reckoned bilaterally and used as a fundamental organizational principle of local bands the social flexibility of which was a key fact of Slavey life. Such groups were formed by tracing ties from either partner in a marriage to a central figure, a good hunter or provider, who led the group. There seems to have been some emphasis on the female line, as exemplified by temporary matrilocal postmarital residence. There were few formal duties and obligations in kinship relationships; rather, there were diffuse principles of solidarity and reciprocity that lessened in intensity as social distance increased.
Kinship Terminology. Kinship is reckoned bilaterally and both teknonymy and fictive kinship are documented. Consanguineal and affinal kin are separated. Terms for the former are characterized by (1) differentiation only by sex for the Second ascending generation, (2) bifurcate merging for the first ascending generation, (3) Hawaiian or Iroquoian distinctions for ego's (one's own) generation, (4) Hawaiian or Iroquoian distinctions for the first descending generation, and (5) contrasts by sex and sex of speaker for the second descending generation.