Gogodala - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Marriages were contracted traditionally through sister exchange, with a man forbidden to marry a woman in his own, his mother's, or his father's mother's clans or any of his father's sister's children. Formerly polygyny was common but is now practiced by few; divorce was uncommon.

Domestic Unit. Traditionally, husbands and wives slept separately but all lived together with the entire community in the longhouse; nowadays, families form living units. While neither men's gardening activities nor women's fishing is shared with a spouse, whole families may spend days or weeks together in the bush seeking building materials and carrying out their various subsistence tasks.

Inheritance. Men bequeath their land and other property to their sons or, if they have none, to their brothers, with nothing left to daughters. A wife may be allowed to use her dead husband's land, but she claims no title to it.

Socialization. Babies are cared for by their mothers or older sisters; fathers are affectionate to infants but their active interest is said to wane with the growing independence of the child. In the early years, children are largely left to their own devices and spend much of their leisure time in the Lagoons. From the age of 4, boys have their own canoes and race them, imitating their fathers. Young girls accompany their mothers to sago swamps and fish on their own; boys work with their fathers in the gardens and sometimes go along on hunting trips. It is a father's responsibility to teach his sons about daily life, while their mother's brothers transmit the secrets of manhood and cult life.

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