Ngatatjara - Kinship

Kin Groups and Descent. Patrilineal descent is an important principle in structuring group affiliation, especially to the patrilineages that claim descent from a common, mythical ancestor and to the specific places where that ancestor lived and performed important acts in the mythical past. Another form of social classification in Ngatatjara society has to do with the dual division of kin into readily identifiable groups, referred to by anthropologists as sections and subsections, to simplify and facilitate expectations regarding whom one may marry or with whom one may expect to share food and access to resources. Aborigines who had resided at the Warburton Mission and at Laverton (and other settlements like Mount Margaret and Cosmo Newberry) tended to group themselves into four sections, correlated with a preference for first cross-cousin marriage. Historically during the period of European contact, different Aboriginal families coming together at such settlements adjusted their section terminology to produce a hybrid "six-section" system that appears to be unique to this area, although it is just as symmetric as its four-section antecedents. However, families arriving from the desert for the first time during the mid-1960s and early 1970s tended to use an eight-subsection mode of classification, correlated with second cross-cousin marriage. During this period such newly arrived desert people at the Warburton Ranges were making rapid adjustments to the "section" system in general use by the mission population.

Kinship Terminology. Classificatory rules of kinship permit extension of kin terms normally used between blood relatives (consanguines) to other individuals of the same sex and generation level. Such categories subsume basic expectations about behavior, such as with whom one may share food or access to resources or whom one may address directly or not, regardless of how one may feel about a particular individual.

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