Zuni - Marriage and Family

Marriage. One does not marry within one's clan, and though one should not marry within the father's clan, this does occasionally occur. Marriage traditionally could take place with or without courtship, but it always entailed gifts, discussions with the girl's mother or father, and the girl's own choice. Since the 1970s, courting has followed basic American mainstream patterns; marriages are formalized by a church ceremony, by a justice of the peace with a tribal Marriage license, or by living together. Divorce is easy, although with a cash economy and nontraditional material possessions, separation can be more complicated. A male returns to his mother's house with his personal possessions and little else. Children belong to their mother's matrilineal clan, and therefore illegitimacy does not exist. Alimony payments are unknown.

Domestic Unit. Traditional extended matrilocal Households continue; however, nuclear housing has become Common with federal HUD assistance. Subdivisions fan out around the village, and much development has occurred at Black Rock, two miles east of Zuni.

Inheritance. Matrilineality continues to play a significant role in inheritance of homes and personal property, though males have considerably more say about sheep and cattle disposition. Modernization of the pueblo, especially since the 1970s, has tended to alter traditional division patterns. Bitter disputes within extended families, in part a result of nuclear family housing, are not uncommon.

Socialization. The "Zuni Way" begins with infants being tightly bound to a hard-backed cradle board. Childhood is characterized by general permissiveness. Mother's brother may be asked to assist in reprimands, and threats of visits by Boogie Man kachinas are not uncommon for repeated naughty behavior. Aggressive and hostile acts are discouraged. Education—from Head Start through high school—is emphasized as a key factor to improved opportunities in life. The University of New Mexico has a vocational branch at Zuni.

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