Ngatatjara - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Polygynous marriage is preferred, although monogamous marriages continue to be common. Residential rules favor patrilocality, but in actual cases residence is often determined by movement in response to drought and other local factors. Strong obligations of both avoidance and sharing behavior exist between in-laws of similar and different generations. Divorce, however, can occur by mutual consent and without formality.

Domestic Unit. People who habitually camp and sleep together, mainly spouses and their offspring, are considered a family and constitute the minimal social unit. Related family units sometimes group themselves in clusters within the overall campsite when conditions of rainfall and hunting permit.

Inheritance. Affiliation for purposes of ceremonial and land-tenure group membership are inherited patrilineally, but portable property is not considered important enough to warrant special rules of inheritance.

Socialization. Infants are closely nurtured until weaning, after which they rapidly assert their independence by forming play groups consisting of children of mixed ages that sometimes establish separate, temporary campsites of their own and can even travel cross-country and feed themselves by means of their own foraging. Child rearing is benign, and physical punishment is rare.

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