Aranda - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Marriages were originally arranged between families on a promise system, although this system has been increasingly eroded up to the present time. Today, people are just as likely to marry "sweethearts" as they are to marry into the "correct" families. The prescribed marriage category for a man is mother's mother's brother's daughter's daughter, but other categories have always been allowed. There has probably been a general increase in "wrong" marriages since Contact with Whites. In precontact times, bride-service was normal, with a man often remaining with his parents-in-law for some time before his promised wife matured to marriageable age. Polygyny was permissible, but it was not the norm; today it is extremely rare. Divorce and broken marriage promises have probably always been current. Marriage between dialect groups or between Aranda and non-Arandic Aborigines is common, and there is also a certain amount of marriage Between Aborigines and Whites, usually between Aboriginal women and White men.

Domestic Unit. A hearth group might consist of an elder man, his wife, and their unmarried children, together with a number of other relatives, such as parents, unmarried Siblings, and sons-in-law working bride-service. But because of the flexibility of hearth groups, both in terms of size and composition, it is difficult to say that even this unit would be typical.

Inheritance. The main heritable property, until recently, was land, together with the myths, ritual acts, and paraphernalia that still effectively act as title deeds to land. Rights in land and ritual property are open to intense politicking within the framework of ambilineal descent, although descent is not the only criterion used to qualify a person's claims. Historically, one's place of conception (or, less frequently, place of birth) has been important.

Socialization. Infants and children are heavily indulged by their parents until adolescence, when they tend to be disciplined for the first time. In childhood development the emphasis is on the fostering of independence and autonomy; hence deprivation and physical punishment are often frowned upon. A great many Aranda children now attend schools. Some of these schools cater to their peculiar needs and are bilingual.

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