Crow kinship

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Crow kinship is a kinship system used to define family. Identified by Lewis Henry Morgan in his 1871 work Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family, the Crow system is one of the six major kinship systems (Eskimo, Hawaiian, Iroquois, Crow, Omaha, and Sudanese).[ citation needed ]

Family Group of people affiliated by consanguinity, affinity, or co-residence

In the context of human society, a family is a group of people related either by consanguinity, affinity, or co-residence or some combination of these. Members of the immediate family may include spouses, parents, brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters. Members of the extended family may include grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, nieces, and siblings-in-law. Sometimes these are also considered members of the immediate family, depending on an individual's specific relationship with them.

Eskimo kinship is a category of kinship used to define family organization in anthropology. Identified by Lewis Henry Morgan in his 1871 work Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family, the Eskimo system was one of six major kinship systems.

Hawaiian kinship, also referred to as the generational system, is a kinship system used to define family. Identified by Lewis H. Morgan in his 1871 work Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family, the Hawaiian system is one of the six major kinship systems.


Kinship system

The system is somewhat similar to the Iroquois system, but distinguishes between the mother's side and the father's side. Relatives on the mother's side of the family have more descriptive terms, and relatives on the father's side have more classificatory terms.

Iroquois kinship is a kinship system named after the Haudenosaunee people that were previously known as Iroquois and whose kinship system was the first one described to use this particular type of system. Identified by Lewis Henry Morgan in his 1871 work Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family, the Iroquois system is one of the six major kinship systems.

The Crow system is distinctive because unlike most other kinship systems, it chooses not to distinguish between certain generations. The relatives of the subject's father's matrilineage are distinguished only by their sex, regardless of their age or generation. In contrast, within Ego's own matrilineage, differences of generation are noted. The system is associated with groups that have a strong tradition of matrilineal descent. In doing so, the system is almost a mirror image of the Omaha system, which is patrilineal.

Matrilineality is the tracing of kinship through the female line. It may also correlate with a social system in which each person is identified with their matriline – their mother's lineage – and which can involve the inheritance of property and/or titles. A matriline is a line of descent from a female ancestor to a descendant in which the individuals in all intervening generations are mothers – in other words, a "mother line". In a matrilineal descent system, an individual is considered to belong to the same descent group as their mother. This matrilineal descent pattern is in contrast to the more common pattern of patrilineal descent from which a family name is usually derived. The matriline of historical nobility was also called their enatic or uterine ancestry, corresponding to the patrilineal or "agnatic" ancestry.

Omaha kinship is the system of terms and relationships used to define family in Omaha tribal culture. Identified by Lewis Henry Morgan in his 1871 work Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family, the Omaha system is one of the six major kinship systems which he identified internationally.

As with the Iroquois system, the Crow uses bifurcate merging, meaning that there is a distinction between collateral relatives of different gender in Ego's descent group. In this case, father's brother would be called "father's brother", and mother's brother would be called "uncle". [1] Only the Iroquois system uses BM as a secondary name.

Graphic of the Crow kinship system Crow-kinship-chart.png
Graphic of the Crow kinship system


The system is named for the Crow Tribe of Montana. The system appears frequently among various cultures. In the Southwestern US, it has traditionally been part of the Hopi Indian culture and the Navajo Nation.

Montana State of the United States of America

Montana is a landlocked state in the Northwestern United States. Montana has several nicknames, although none are official, including "Big Sky Country" and "The Treasure State", and slogans that include "Land of the Shining Mountains" and more recently "The Last Best Place".

Hopi ethnic group

The Hopi are a Native American tribe, often recognized for populating the North American continent and in particular, Arizona. As of the 2010 census, there are 19,338 Hopi in the United States. The Hopi language is one of 30 in the Uto-Aztecan language family. The majority of Hopi people are enrolled in the Hopi Tribe of Arizona but some are enrolled in the Colorado River Indian Tribes. The Hopi Reservation covers a land area of 2,531.773 sq mi (6,557.26 km2).

Navajo Nation Reservation

The Navajo Nation is a Native American territory covering about 17,544,500 acres, occupying portions of northeastern Arizona, southeastern Utah, and northwestern New Mexico in the United States. This is the largest land area retained by a Native American tribe, with a population of roughly 350,000 as of 2016.

See also

Anthropology is the scientific study of humans and human behavior and societies in the past and present. Social anthropology and cultural anthropology study the norms and values of societies. Linguistic anthropology studies how language affects social life. Biological or physical anthropology studies the biological development of humans.

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An incest taboo is any cultural rule or norm that prohibits sexual relations between closely related persons. All human cultures have norms that exclude certain close relatives from those considered suitable or permissible sexual or marriage partners, making such relationships taboo. However, different norms exist among cultures as to which blood relations are permissible as sexual partners and which are not. Sexual relations between related persons which are subject to the taboo are called incestuous relationships.

Kinship human relationship term; web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of most humans in most societies; form of social connection

In anthropology, kinship is the web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of all humans in all societies, although its exact meanings even within this discipline are often debated. Anthropologist Robin Fox states that "the study of kinship is the study of what man does with these basic facts of life – mating, gestation, parenthood, socialization, siblingship etc." Human society is unique, he argues, in that we are "working with the same raw material as exists in the animal world, but [we] can conceptualize and categorize it to serve social ends." These social ends include the socialization of children and the formation of basic economic, political and religious groups.

Sudanese kinship, also referred to as the descriptive system, is a kinship system used to define family. Identified by Lewis Henry Morgan in his 1871 work Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family, the Sudanese system is one of the six major kinship systems.

Fictive kinship is a term used by anthropologists and ethnographers to describe forms of kinship or social ties that are based on neither consanguineal nor affinal ties, in contrast to true kinship ties.

In discussing consanguineal kinship in anthropology, a parallel cousin or ortho-cousin is a cousin from a parent's same-sex sibling, while a cross-cousin is from a parent's opposite-sex sibling. Thus, a parallel cousin is the child of the father's brother or of the mother's sister, while a cross-cousin is the child of the mother's brother or of the father's sister. Where there are unilineal descent groups in a society, one's parallel cousins on one or both sides will belong to one's own descent group, while cross-cousins will not.

Structural anthropology is a school of anthropology based on Claude Lévi-Strauss' idea that immutable deep structures exist in all cultures, and consequently, that all cultural practices have homologous counterparts in other cultures, essentially that all cultures are equitable.

The avunculate, sometimes called avunculism or avuncularism, is any social institution where a special relationship exists between an uncle and his sisters' children. This relationship can be formal or informal, depending on the society. Early anthropological research focused on the association between the avunculate and matrilineal descent, while later research has expanded to consider the avunculate in general society.

Chinese kinship

The Chinese kinship system is classified as a "Sudanese" or "descriptive" system for the definition of family. Identified by Lewis Henry Morgan in his 1871 work Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family, the Sudanese system is one of the six major kinship systems together with Eskimo, Hawaiian, Iroquois, Crow, and Omaha.

The alliance theory, also known as the general theory of exchanges, is a structuralist method of studying kinship relations. It finds its origins in Claude Lévi-Strauss's Elementary Structures of Kinship (1949) and is in opposition to the functionalist theory of Radcliffe-Brown. Alliance theory has oriented most anthropological French works until the 1980s; its influences were felt in various fields, including psychoanalysis, philosophy and political philosophy.

Kinship terminology is the system used in languages to refer to the persons to whom an individual is related through kinship. Different societies classify kinship relations differently and therefore use different systems of kinship terminology; for example, some languages distinguish between consanguine and affinal uncles, whereas others have only one word to refer to both a father and his brothers. Kinship terminologies include the terms of address used in different languages or communities for different relatives and the terms of reference used to identify the relationship of these relatives to ego or to each other.

Irish kinship is a system of kinship terminology which shows a bifurcate collateral pattern. This system is used by a minority of people living in the Gaeltacht regions of Ireland. Irish kinship terminology varies from English kinship as it focuses on gender and generation, with less emphasis on differentiating lineal vs. collateral.

<i>Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family</i>

Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family is an 1871 book written by Lewis Henry Morgan and published by the Smithsonian Institution. It is considered foundational for the discipline of anthropology and particularly for the study of human kinship. It was the culmination of decades of research into the variety of kinship terminologies in the world conducted partly through fieldwork and partly through a global survey of kinship terminologies in the languages and cultures of the world.

The Burmese kinship system is a fairly complex system used to define family in the Burmese language. In the Burmese kinship system:

Sesotho – the language of the Basotho ethnic group of South Africa and Lesotho – has a complex system of kinship terms which may be classified to fall under the Iroquois kinship pattern. The complex terminology rules are necessitated in part by the traditional promotion of certain forms of cousin marriage among the Bantu peoples of sub-Saharan Africa. Most of the terms used have common reconstructed Proto-Bantu roots.

Variations in the number of lexical categories across the languages is a notable idea in cultural anthropology. A former study on "color terms" explores such variations. Brent Berlin and Paul Kay (1969) argued that these qualitative and quantitative differences can be organized into a coherent hierarchy. As far as kinship terms are concerned, the variation is not found as an hierarchical organization, but as a result of conditions or constraints. That is to say, the number of kinship terms varies across the languages because of sociocultural conditions or constraints on the biological traits.


  1. Murdock, George Peter. "Bifurcate Merging, a Test of Five Theories." American anthropologist 49.1 (1947): 56-68.