Yuit - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Traditionally marriage, clan-exogamous, was arranged by elders of the two families involved, an agreement for the union sometimes being formalized during the childhood of the two young people. There was no formal marriage ceremony, marriage had no religious connotations, and the only ritual involved was that the groom's family customarily took a sledload of gifts to the home of the bride. Residence was matri-patrilocal. For the first year or so the groom lived with his wife in the house of his parents-in-law and performed "groom-work" by helping his father-in-law in hunting and household maintenance. After a year the young couple—accompanied by a reciprocal sledload of gifts—returned to take up permanent residence in the groom's family's Household. Divorce was socially recognized although not marked by any formal ritual. The wife simply moved out of the husband's (or husband's family's) house. A divorce posed problems of affiliation and loyalty for children involved, since they belonged to their father's clan. A woman usually would Return to the home of a clansman, sometimes with younger children accompanying her.

Domestic Unit. The household was usually composed of an extended family of parents, younger married sons and their wives and children, and unmarried children. Older married sons would usually establish their own households as demands on space in the parental home expanded. They would always, however, build their dwelling close to the parents' home. Thus a settlement would consist of several enclaves or neighborhoods of clansmen, a pattern still found, although changing.

Inheritance. Material objects, such as tools, weapons, sewing and cooking utensils, and clothing, were passed on to appropriate users in the family. A boat was inherited by the eldest son. Nonmaterial property was also recognized; for example, the composer of a song was considered its "owner" and it could not be sung without his permission.

Socialization. Child rearing among the Yuit conformed to the pan-Eskimo pattern of extreme permissiveness in the first two to three years. Few demands were made on the child for adherence to toilet training, obedience, or delaying of gratification; and the implicit goal was that of building deep self-confidence and self-reliance. From four to five years of age onward, the child gradually internalized models for appropriate behavior and self-restraint observed in the familial environment.

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