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Aboriginal Kinship

Traditional Aboriginal people had very strict rules of who they could or couldn’t marry. Their world was divided into moieties (orders) – for example, sun and moon, grass and trees, birds and animals  – and one could not marry someone of the same moiety – kangaroo man could not marry a kangaroo woman. Depending upon paternal (A line) or maternal (B line) lines of descent, the children may follow either their father’s (D line) or mother’s (C line) line of kinship.


Penalties for breaking this law were harsh, often resulting in banishment from the tribal group or death (See Tingha Stone Woman). Banishment from the tribal/family group meant that you were not protected from danger, could not hunt/gather with the group, could not talk to or have anything to do with other members of the community. This was perhaps more severe than death, because your whole life depended upon your family, tribal affinities and other people who you knew and you would not be accepted into another group or kinship alliance.

Information courtesy of Sue Hudson, Archaeologist