The term "Kariera" refers both to a particular Western Australian people, with a distinct name and language, as well as to a specific form of social organization and kinship reckoning shared by several distinct groups (Nglera, Kariera, Ngaluma, Indjibandi, Pandjima, Bailgu, and Nyamal). The territory associated with the Kariera type of organization is defined by the drainage of the De Grey River, as well as portions of the region along both sides of the Fortescue River. In common with other Western Australian groups, the Kariera are traditional hunting and gathering people, locally organized into small bands and centered on nuclear families, which exploit a portion of the larger Kariera territory. The Kariera have a "four-section" system of descent-based social organization, in which two patrilineal, exogamous moieties are crosscut by two matrilineal moieties. This system establishes two sets of wife-giving and wife-taking sections, marked by kinship terms that denote the appropriate wife-giving group as one whose members include classificatory cross cousins: that is, a man is expected to marry either his mother's brother's daughter or his father's sister's daughter. Because these groups are reciprocally defined (i.e., if a man from section A is expected to marry a woman from section B, so too is a man from section B expected to marry a woman from section A) the system also entails sister exchange, at least classificatorily. Other aspects of the Kariera-type system, according to kinship usage, include the division of all relatives into three generations. Within a single generation further subdivisions occur along the male and female lines. For the males, one such division consists of the father's line, including among its number the husbands of the father's mother's sisters and the brothers of the mother's mother. The other division is along the mother's line and includes as well the husbands of the mother's mother's sisters and the brothers of the father's mother. Among the females, these two divisions are mirrored. Grandparents and grandchildren are terminologically merged as well, in two dimensions: between one another, a grandparent will use the same term for a grandchild as that grandchild uses for the grandparent; and a member of an intervening generation will refer to his or her grandparent with the same term appropriate for his or her grandchild of the same sex. Membership in either of the two patrilineal moieties is lifelong, and it is from this membership that a person derives his or her ritual and territorial claims—although with regard to territory, membership cannot be understood to construe rights to property in land, which are absent in traditional Western Australian Aboriginal societies. Rather, membership entials rights of access to ritually significant sites and the right and obligation to participate in a particular area's ritual ceremonies and to partake of its taboos. Such membership is also invoked to establish hunting rights within a particular band's territory, although nonmembers may be accorded temporary rights as well. The matrilineal moieties serve primarily to define appropriate marriage partners and, since postmarital residence is patrilocal, a wife exchanges her section affiliation (and therefore her patrilineage affiliation) for that of her husband. Among the Kariera, male initiation consists in the young man setting out on a long journey (of several months), which often will take him beyond the borders of his own section's traditional territory and may even bring him into contact with non-Kariera groups. Throughout the course of this journey he acquires knowledge of the surrounding lands and, more importantly, is gradually introduced into the ritual lore associated with the territory. On this journey, the young man seeks a wife, but he also establishes the rough outline of the "road," the specific portion of territory in which he will, as an adult, travel and hunt.


Radcliffe-Brown, A. R. (1930). "The Social Organization of Australian Tribes, Part I." Oceania 1:34-63.

Radcliffe-Brown, A. R. (1930). "The Social Organization of Australian Tribes, Part II." Oceania 1:206-256; 322-341

Radcliffe-Brown, A. R. (1930). "The Social Organization of Australian Tribes, Part III." Oceania 1:426-456.

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