Aboriginal Kinship

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Aboriginal Kinship Systems

ANT 101: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

Aboriginal Kinship Systems

Kinship is one of the main principles of a foraging culture’s social organization. The way they interact with each other relies on the relationship they have together. If one member wanted to marry another member of the society, they would not behave in the same manner as they would with a blood relative such as a mother or father. In foraging societies the nuclear family is the most important because it is very adaptable to changing situations (Nowak & Laird, 2010).

In the Aboriginal culture the importance of family is somewhat different from most other foraging societies. The nuclear family is still the basic kinship unit. Everything outside of the nuclear family is where the Aboriginal kinship organization starts to get more complex. In an article written by M.H. Monroe, he states that, “Aboriginal Australia kinship is one of the most complex systems in the world” (Monroe, 2010). In the Aboriginal kinship system the nuclear family is important, but there is more emphasis on the importance of the extended family. Kinship is so important to the Aborigines that they created Aboriginal Law that dictates the behavior of one member towards different relatives.

This Aboriginal Law is also known as the skin system. It is a classificatory system of identifying kin and the rules on the interactions with those kin. The skin system has nothing to do with skin color. It is a way of labeling a subsection within the tribe or group (Monroe, 2011). While reading and desperately trying to understand the extremely complex kinship system of the Aboriginal culture, I came to the conclusion that to fully understand their way of life you would have to live among them for a very long time. It is easy for the Aboriginal people to understand because they were brought up being taught this way of social...
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