Marriage. No marriage with known consanguineal relatives was permissible. Despite the small population, potentials for marriageability were maintained by the extensive mobility of individuals and groups and shallow genealogical reckoning that limited the tracing of relationships. Monogamy was the most common marital arrangement, but Polygyny (both sororal and nonsororal) frequently occurred. The sororate and levirate also were practiced. First marriages were usually arranged by parents. During the first years of marriage, residence was bilocal but with a tendency to matrilocality. Separation because of incompatibility, infidelity, or improvidence could be initiated by either spouse and was recognized by the community. Intermarriage with other Native Americans and with Whites is increasing in recent times, and Marriage practices in general follow the American pattern.
Domestic Unit. The members of a localized bilateral extended family together with some affines, distant relatives, and visiting friends formed the minimal domestic unit. Individuals shifted residence frequently to live in communities of relatives or friends elsewhere. Where feasible, modern Washoe residential arrangements follow earlier patterns.
Inheritance. There is no clear evidence that statuses or property were passed down through any rule of inheritance in aboriginal times. Personal possessions were disposed of at death, and headships and other offices were determined by group consensus. Today, the American system of descent and inheritance prevails legally, though the traditional orientation often is expressed in practice.
Socialization. Nurturing and permissive guidance were the model for ideal parenting. Expression of hostility or violence toward children was strongly discouraged. Admonition and punishment were relegated to third persons or to the threat of supernatural intervention. This pattern continues to predominate among modern Washoe families where personal autonomy and individualism are respected and asserted.