Kin Groups and Descent. Variant forms of the bilateral extended family constituted the basic Washoe kin groups. These composed the small local communities that were essentially family compounds referred to as "bunches." networks of intermarriage in long-established areas of habitation led to the formation of larger regional communities, or "bands," which people identified as places of relatively Permanent residence and close kinship. Ties with more distant communities were weaker and relationships less traceable, but conditions of limited population distribution, mobility, and common language and culture induced a sense of "tribal" identity among all sections. Groups were not corporate, and notions of descent functioned mainly to determine the possible range of kinship obligations and of permissible sexual or marital relations.
Kinship Terminology. All siblings and cousins were referred to by the terms for brother and sister (a "generational" system) and further distinguished only by the relative ages of their parents. Terms in the parental generation were bifurcate-collateral; that is, they provided distinct terms for each of the parents and their siblings. Some change toward the general American system has been taking place in the twentieth century.