Malekula - Kinship

Kin Groups and Descent. In all three groups the community is divided into a number of localized, patrilineal, exogamous descent groups called "clans" by their first ethnographer, A. B. Deacon. Each clan member can trace descent from a village or locality. Place membership appears to be a stronger factor in unity than clan membership per se. Children belong to the place of their father, but they can be adopted into other places on occasion. Members of a clan or place share a specific totem and a sacred place where group rituals were performed in precontact times. The descent group is the landholding unit, and food and other valued items are frequently shared by members.

Kinship Terminology. All three ethnic groups use Crow-type kinship terms in a patrilineal descent system. This combination is unusual, found in only two other Oceanic ethnic groups.

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