Southern Paiute (and Chemehuevi) - Marriage and Family

Marriage. In theory, marriage was prohibited among any who could trace blood relationships. Young people married early, and most unions were monogamous. There was no ceremony. Some polygyny occurred, usually with sisters as co-wives. Polyandry was reported, sometimes by hearsay. The levirate and sororate were obligatory among some subgroups. Marriages were usually thought to be permanent relationships, but divorce brought no shame to either party. Children commonly went with the mother. Initial matrilocal residence often occurred, usually as a form of bride-service. Neolocal residence prevailed after a year or the birth of the first child.

Domestic Unit. The nuclear or small extended family was the former residence unit and remains so today. Many Households contain three and occasionally four generations as a temporary or permanent arrangement.

Inheritance. In aboriginal times, land was available for use to all Southern Paiutes. Resource ownership was limited to claims by families in a few subgroups to exclusive use of mesquite groves or agave-collecting areas. Springs, tanks, and potholes were also considered to be private property, so that permission to camp at them was needed. Plant resource areas often passed through female relatives and spring sites through males, but rules were not strict.

Socialization. Grandparents took a major role in child rearing, given that parents might be absent from camp during much of the day engaged in subsistence chores. Children were considered responsible from an early age (about six years), and sanctions after that time might come from any member of the group through gossip or ridicule. Parents today take a much more active role in child rearing, but in households with grandparents, they also so function. Parents and grandparents are more directive than before, but children are still largely on their own to make mistakes or not.

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