Tlingit - Kinship

Kin Groups and Descent. Tlingit society is divided into two large exogamous moieties—Raven-Crow and Eagle-Wolf (Crow for Inland Tlingit and Wolf for Southern Tlingit). Each moiety contains some twenty autonomous matriclans. Aboriginally, each exogamous localized matriclan had its own village and formed marriage alliances with other communities. Matriclans that intermarried with considerable frequency within a given region formed a Kwaan, or district, of which there were fourteen. Following depopulation and the depletion of resources, scattered clans within Kwaans moved together to form consolidated clan villages like Angoon, Hoonah, and Yakutat. Local matriclans were corporate groups holding title to property, real estate, and ceremonial objects. A matriclan consisted of one or more community longhouses in which descent was traced matrilineally. Lineage, clan, and moiety affiliations are still important for marriage and ceremonial purposes.

Kinship Terminology. Crow-type kinship terminology, once a characteristic of Tlingit society, is little used by younger members today.

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