Tanana - Marriage and Family



Marriage. Traditional marriage rules precluded marriage within one's matrilineage: cross-cousin marriages were preferred and sib exogamy was the rule. Residence was generally matrilocal. There was no bride-price or dowry, although the future husband was expected to help his parents-in-law and provide them with gifts. Formerly polygamy was practiced. Divorce was not common. Nowadays marriage is monogamous and avoided between first cousins. Residence tends toward matrilocality, and divorce is still rare.

Domestic Unit. Residence units were characteristically small extended families. Although nuclear families predominate today, extended family groups are still common in the residential unit and are characteristic of most task groups for hunting and fishing.

Inheritance. In the past, among the neighboring Upper Tanana, personal belongings were sometimes given to a close relative or friend prior to death or were supposed to be destroyed upon death. Among the Tanana, valuable items and personal belongings now are often given away at the funeral potlatch.

Socialization. Children were raised to exhibit humility and modesty in pursuits and accomplishments. They had freedom in their activities, and independence was valued. These ideals persist. Formal education is now mandatory through age sixteen, and most students complete high school, although few continue their education beyond the secondary level.


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