Within the European-Australian structure “kinship” is determined purely by marriage and descent. This type of kinship is predominantly made up by the ‘nuclear families’, which is established by marriage and consists of mother, father and children. The normal expectation is that the nuclear family will establish their home away from their parents.
As opposed to the nuclear family structure existing in the Western lifestyle, the Aboriginal family is very much focussed on the extended arrangement. People not directly related by blood ties are often covered by the kinship term or label.
A great emphasis is placed on sharing which is conducted according to the kinship relationship. By following the rules of sharing, people gained respect and trust. Sharing within the Aboriginal lifestyle allowed people to build up a store of ‘social credit’ both within the local group and with distant trading partners.
The kinship influences whom one could marry and many other aspects of everyday behaviour. Once adulthood is reached the person knows exactly how to behave towards everyone he or she meets, and what type of behaviour is appropriate.
The kinship chart below provides an example for the Pilbara Region Skin Group.
|Panaka male marries Karimarra female
||children will be Purungu
||[A+B = C] |
|Karimarra male marries Panaka female
||children will be Palyirri
||[B+A = D]|
|Palyirri male marries Purungu female
||children will be Karimarra
||[D+C = B]|
|Purungu male marries Palyirri female
||children will be Panaka
||[C+D = A]|
Skin groups regulate this social organisation that involves many family groups. By cultural law as a member of this group you can only marry across (see black arrow’s in diagram).