Kin Groups and Descent. There are no descent groups and genealogies are shallow. Common social identity is constituted in terms as much of locality and food sharing as of ancestry. As elsewhere in the highlands, Mendi favor affiliation with their father's clan, but strong substantive connections are recognized on the mother's side as well. Both relations are actively acknowledged and negotiated in gift exchanges. The term "clan" is used here in the interest of consistency with the published ethnography of Mendi and its neighbors. In this somewhat unconventional usage, a "clan" is not a "descent group" (i.e., a kin group whose membership is based on a descent rule) ; however, it corresponds with such descent-based groups functionally (see below, "Social Organization"). Mendi employ idioms of brotherhood and patrilineal ancestry rhetorically in calls for group unity, but they do not use them to talk about membership criteria. Even the rationale for affiliation with one's father's group is not explained as a genealogical principle. In Mendi clans nowadays, the rights and status of nonagnatic "sister's sons" are indistinguishable from those of agnatic members.
Kinship Terminology. Mendi kinship terminology is a version of the Omaha type, insofar as father's brother's son and father's brother's daughter are equated with brother and sister and distinguished from father's sister's son or daughter, mother's brother's son or daughter, and mother's sister's son or daughter (who are all referred to by a single term).