Kin Groups and Descent. There were, and are today, patrilineal clans, but apart from being loosely associated with particular tracts of land, these groups were relatively unimportant. An individual's kin network, including affinal and matrilateral relatives, was more important. Exchange transactions among these kin down through the generations were very significant. Although Margaret Mead labeled these "ropes" descent groups, the term "rope" more likely served as a metaphor for the complex series of exchanges that commenced with a brother-sister exchange marriage and ended with another exchange marriage five generations later (rarely accomplished). These transactions highlighted the important roles of mother's brother and father's sister as well as brother and sister.
Kinship Terminology. Hawaiian-type terminology was used in one's own first descending generation, but Iroquoistype terms were used in the first ascending generation; that is, mother's brother was distinguished from father and father's sister distinguished from mother. It was possible to modify the kin terms for brother and sister to describe a "distant" Sibling. A distinction was also made between older and younger same-sex siblings.