Wapisiana - Marriage and Family

Marriage. The cross cousin is the category preferred for marriage, whereas marriage with the true parallel cousins is prohibited. There is some evidence that marriage with the actual sister's daughter was once desirable, a practice that continues in a loose, categorical sense insofar as men show a preference for young girls. Polygyny, once common for leaders, has nearly disappeared, probably under pressure from missionaries. Most marriages are now consecrated by a Catholic priest. Divorce is not uncommon and is initiated by either the husband or the wife; a village leader may intervene to try to convince a couple to stay together.

Domestic Unit. The nuclear family plus a grandparent is the common configuration. Often a man who is a leader will surround his large house with smaller homes for his sons' and daughters' families. Men traditionally exerted authority over their daughters' husbands; a year of service to the wife's father is still customary.

Inheritance. There is no explicit rule for inheritance. Leadership is said to pass from father to son, but there is little ethnographic evidence of this.

Socialization. Young children stay with their mothers, assist with household and garden work, and act as companions to adults, a vital social obligation. At adolescence, the Wapisiana traditionally initiated both boys and girls with painful stinging-ant and cutting ordeals; these practices have all but disappeared. Every Wapisiana village now has at least a federally provided primary school, and more advanced schooling is available in some villages and missions or in towns.

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