Yurok - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Kroeber notes that the Yurok married "whom and where they pleased." In the small Yurok villages, however, exogamy was a necessity, but endogamy was common in the larger villages. Social status of the married couple depended on the amount paid for the bride; men of wealth paid great sums, enhancing their rank in the community as well as that of their children. Whether the man was rich or poor, Kroeber relates, "the formality of payment was indispensable to a Marriage." In the 1850s, most Yurok married couples lived with the husband's family, with their children having primary affiliation with this house (a "full marriage" in Yurok terms). A much smaller number of couples maintained permanent Residence with the wife's family, with the children subsequently linked to that family (to the Yurok, a "half marriage"). Divorce could be initiated by either party, but if the man was the instigator, he had to refund the payment made for his wife. If the woman was the initiator, her kin would have to compensate the husband. If the woman wanted to take any children from the marriage, the husband had to be compensated. Sterility on the part of the woman was the most frequent ground for divorce.

Inheritance. A man's estate went largely to his sons, though the daughters were expected to have a certain share. Additionally, male relatives expected to receive some portion of the estate.

Socialization. Fathers trained their sons to be hunters and warriors, and it is said that daughters were taught by their mothers to be diligent housewives. Children were also taught to be "merry and alert."

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