The Tiwi People

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Tiwi: Traditions in Austrailia by Holly Peters-Golden covers the major points in the tribes lifestyle. She covers their social organization and their religious and expressive culture. Under social organization fell kinship, marriage, Tiwi wives, power and prestige; religious and expressive culture covered beliefs, taboos, kulama , sickness-reasons they became sick and how healing is common knowledge, death and pukamani . The most important points I believe this author has tried to make about this particular group of people is everything pertaining to their social organization, religious beliefs, death and pukamani, and sickness and healing. The relationships between the Tiwi is remarkable and rather interesting. It’s believed that pregnancy occurs when a man discovers an unborn spirit belong to its mothers matrilineal descent group, which is then called their “skin.” They believe that the unborn spirits live in or near bodies of water and when a man discovers one of these spirits while he dreams he sends it to his wife but the clan origin of the wife must be the same as the spirits. The Tiwi social system is based off of the belief that everyone is related to everyone else. There are two types of ‘kinships’ those that live close and those that live far. Nowadays the Tiwi marriage is based largely off the influence from the Catholic missionaries who came to live on the island after World War II. But understanding the original marital patterns of the Tiwi was very important to how the social, political and economic system of the Tiwi worked. Traditional culture mandated that all women be married, this belief was more extreme than the tribes of the mainland. Mainland tribe believed marriage was expected but not necessarily required and not set for the baby girl before birth. The Tiwi believed that there was no such thing as an unmarried female they don’t even have a word in their language to describe the concept of an unmarried female. Since, they...
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