Murngin - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Polygynous marriages, formerly regarded as most desirable, are increasingly rare. Moiety and clan exogamy are observed, and within these parameters, families arrange Marriages: ideally a young man is assigned a mother-in-law who is his mother's mother's brother's daughter (most likely and most desirably a classificatory relative in this category). Marriages in the past and to a large extent today maintain or extend alliances between lineages. A young man performs bride-service. Divorce was not formerly institutionalized, but Permanent separation of spouses was not uncommon.

Domestic Unit. A man and his wife or wives, who are often sisters, and their children eat and sleep together, whether living in houses in towns, or in houses or shelters at homeland centers. Brothers with their wives and children frequently live in close proximity. Women in such a hearth group or household forage together, and brothers often hunt together.

Inheritance. Joint rights in land inhere in the patrilineal group into which each person is bom; in the same way, ownership of a language is inherited. A lineage is a potential Inheritor of land belonging to the patrilineal group of a real or classificatory mother's mother, should there be no males remaining in that group. Movable property is disposed of through exchange. Formerly a deceased person's personal property was destroyed, but now if such property is valuable it is ritually purified and distributed to relatives on the basis of their attachment to the deceased.

Socialization. Infants are almost always in physical contact with caretakers, children are not physically punished or threatened by adults, and infants and very young children are never overtly denied whatever they wish. Yolngu are proponents of bicultural education ("two-way education") and some are gaining university degrees and designing their own school curricula as well as administering and teaching in their schools.

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: