The Kinship System of Native American Iroquois

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The Kinship System of the Native American Iroquois According to a 1990 census, there are 49,038 Iroquois living in the United States today. This makes them the eighth largest tribe. (Hall, 2011) The kinship system of the Iroquois was an important part of how they lived as a horticultural society. Their kinship consisted of their matrilineal descent groups, marriage to keep their kinship closely together, and the way they used reciprocity in sharing their food. They used matrilineal descent groups to trace their ancestors and select marital partners. Their right to use land also came from these groups. Women were as equal as men in a way that gave them power over what happened in the group. As a social structure, the Iroquois tribe was a well planned, close knitted family. As a member of the tribe, everybody was related by blood or marriage. In my society today, we have technology to do the work the Iroquois did back then. We go to grocery store to buy our food. We can phone, email or text people in our family instead of seeing them every day. Even though we are not as close of a group as the Iroquois was, we still as humans have that need to be a part of something. We join teams, clubs and have “girls” and “guys” nights out. So in a way, we do have some comparison as to the behaviors in our lives today. In an Iroquois tribe, planting and producing was a women’s job. They had more knowledge of plants and what land to use. “At the time of European contact, Iroquois women produced about 65 percent of all products.” (Nowak & Laird, 2010, p.12, sec. 4.2) This in turn gave them power to get involved in conflicts or trades. If a woman were against a particular trade or conflict, they would withhold food from the men so that the men knew they could not go. This goes to the point that the Iroquois followed a matrilineal descent line. This means that they

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