Siona-Secoya - Marriage and Family

Marriage. The ideal practice is to seek a mate beyond one's patrilineal sib, and also beyond one's mother's immediate lineage, although individuals who carry their mother's sib name may be considered marriageable if they are not closely related to her. Both cross- and parallel-cousin marriages are prohibited. Depopulation has made it difficult to follow the rules in all cases. Marriages are arranged by parents. The ceremony is concluded when the bride sits with the groom in a hammock. Ideally, the husband provides a period of bride-service to his wife's household before establishing patrilocal residence. Marriages are monogamous, but polygyny is occasionally practiced. Either party can initiate divorce by stating a desire to separate or by moving out of the household.

Domestic Unit. The traditional household consisted of an extended family living in a large oval house set on the ground. Modern houses are often smaller and elevated and shelter a single nuclear family. Such houses may form clusters that reflect an extended-family pattern.

Inheritance. The Siona-Secoya have no clear inheritance rules. There is no private ownership of land, and those personal belongings that are not buried with the dead are typically smashed, burned, or thrown into the river as a sign of mourning.

Socialization. Children are raised permissively. Corporal punishment is rare, but a parent may threaten to brush the child with stinging nettles. Children's tantrums are sometimes ignored or ridiculed. Children are taught to fear forest demons known as watí , and this may serve as a sanction against undesirable behavior. Both sexes play together until age 9 or 10, when girls are instructed to spend their time assisting their mothers. Girls undergo a lengthy puberty ceremony at first menses. Schools were established in some communities in the 1950s.

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