ANT 101: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
Prof. Benjamin Wright
March 12, 2012
KINSHIP OF THE IROQUOIS
Kinship can best be defined as a system of social relationships, or in simpler terms a system of family. According to our text, “kinship involves how people classify each other, the rules that affect people’s behavior, and people’s actual behavior.” (Nowak and Laird, 2010, 4:5) Kinship can be seen in our everyday lives within our own circle of family and friends, and how we classify them in regards to importance and how we treat them based on our classifications of them. For example, you may love your best friend and treat them with respect but would you respect your best friend more than you respect your own mother? This provides us with an insight of what a kinship system is, and in this paper I’m going to discuss the kinship system of the Iroquois Indians in comparison to my own kinship system.
The Iroquois Indians is a horticultural society located in the Northeast region of the North America. They live in long houses because they have very large extended families. Iroquois are a uni-lineal descent group. This means that they trace their lineage or ancestry through only one sex. (Nowak & Laird, 2010) Unlike most societies, the Iroquois trace their descent through the woman, which makes them a matrilineal society. In their society there are rules in regard to marriage. Iroquois are required to marry outside of their lineage as well as outside of their clans. They are not allowed to marry family members who are too closely related such as sibling or parents or even parallel cousins. However, they are allowed to marry cross-cousins and in fact, the marriage of cross-cousins is encouraged to maintain wealth as well as family alliances. When Iroquois people marry, post marriage the husband moves in with the wife and her family. Divorce is also fairly simple in Iroquois society, if a woman no longer...