The Iroquois Kinship System

Topics: Family, Marriage, Kinship Pages: 3 (836 words) Published: June 21, 2013

The Iroquois Kinship System

ANT 101


The Iroquois Kinship System

The Iroquois are an indigenous group of Native American people. This group is an unilineal and matrilineal descent group, which means descent is traced back only through the female bloodline of the family or group. Matrilineal descent grouping systems were used by horticultural societies because women managed food production and the Iroquois are a food producing society. Nowak & Laird emphasized, “Among the Iroquois, where women were the key food producers and land was held jointly by women, descent went through the female line.” (p. 4.5). The Iroquios culture is alike and different from my culture in many ways and the Iroquis people have their own unique kinship system that in several ways directly impacts the way the their culture behaves.

An important part of Iroquois kinship is the complex family structure. The mother and her sisters as well as the father and his brothers are all classified as parents in the family. While the mother's brothers, as well as the father's sisters are all classified as uncles and aunts. Children from the parents of the family are considered to be siblings, while the offspring from the uncles and aunts are classified as cousins. When it comes to marriage, the Iroquois must marry outside of there family. Members of the clan can not marry their siblings but can marry their cousins. When an Iroquois couple is married the man moves into the woman’s longhouse. Divorce among the Iroquois is not complicated. Nowak & Laird (2010) describes, “If a woman no longer desired to be married to her husband, all she had to do was pack up her husband's belongings and leave them on the IROQUOIS KINSHIP 3

steps of the longhouse. When he came home, the husband would find them, realize...

References: Nowak, B. & Laird, P. (2010). Cultural Anthropology. (Ashford University ed.). San
Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education.
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