Bakairi - Marriage and Family



Marriage. Polygynous marriages were previously allowed, but all marriages are now monogamous. Village endogamy exists, although marriages with other Indians or with someone from outside the reservation do occur occasionally. Extended-family exogamy is also practiced in that cross cousins, but not parallel cousins, are possible marriage partners. Parents are normally responsible for the selection of their child's spouse. Temporary matrilocal residence follows marriage, during which time the son-inlaw assists the wife's father. This arrangement often ends after the birth of the first child. At that time the couple build their own home but can be joined later by siblings and/or parents of one of the spouses. Divorce is acceptable but rare. Wives leave their husbands if the men impregnate another woman or if physical abuse occurs. Men leave their wives if the women refuse to cook or wash their clothes.

Domestic Unit. The household is the domestic unit. One married couple makes up the core of the household in most cases, although a few households are organized around two married couples or a widow/widower. Children, aging parents of one of the spouses, and unmarried adults make up the peripheral individuals. The majority of households are composed of between three and six individuals with a mode and median of four individuals. Each is expected to contribute to the production process by farming, hunting, fishing, food processing, or doing other chores. Related households maintain strong ties. Young married couples living in other households frequently visit their parents. Adult male siblings farm and hunt together, and adult female relatives bathe and wash clothes in the river together.

Inheritance. Ownership of land or specific hunting or fishing grounds does not exist. Personal property is divided among the surviving family members. Ritual masks are handed down from mother to daughter.

Socialization. Mothers care for infants. Older children are raised by both parents, and siblings and grandparents participate in daily child care. Older women past the age of childbearing frequently adopt children of relations. Physical punishment is used in child rearing, with children taught the values of hard work, team spirit, and respect for their elders.


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