The Australian Aborigines keep a close knit family, even when it comes to marriages. In this culture, cross-cousin marriage is acceptable. This means that one can marry his father’s sister’s child, or a mother’s brother’s child. This keeps alliances strong between bands. It is common for the Aborigines to marry outside their particular band, which means at times that the male or the female will change living situations. This way kinship is spread throughout all the bands making them connected. Levi-Strauss calls this exogamous.
Most Americans do not participate in cross-cousin marriage. Our culture sees this as taboo. Some states even outlaw the marriage of cousins. While this type of kinship keeps foraging, and horticulture cultures close to each other, it is something that is not needed in American culture. Like the Aborigines, we tend to be close to our immediate families such as: mother, father, siblings, spouse, and children/grandchildren. When it comes to the society as a whole, our bonds are not as strong as it is with our kin-ship. With the Aborigines it comes down to survival and keeping peace, or alliances with other bands with cross-cousin marriages.
Another survival method that the Aborigines use is infanticide, the killing of infants. Female infants were especially prone to infanticide. This is used to control population, and to rid themselves of the weak; such as someone with a deformity. Population control is vital to surviving in foraging cultures. Resources are valuable and need to be maintained. Generally a woman can only breast feed one child at a time, as well as everything else that goes along with taking care of a child to around age five when they become more self-sufficient. Male infants are not as prone to infanticide due to strength and hunting skills they will acquire to help bands when it comes to food sources.
We as Americans have difficulty comprehending infanticide. In our society we try to protect the disabled, and most would starve their self before letting their children starve. But I also say that most of us have not had to deal with foraging for our own food. The Australian Aborigines has been using infanticide for centuries, and it has kept them alive. Again, it is hard to comprehend, but I cannot judge another cultures means of survival or their moral values.
Like most Americans, the Aborigines are very spiritual people. They have a creation story known as “dreamtime”. Aboriginals believe this is the time that their ancestors put living beings on the earth. Everything living has a spirit to the Aboriginals, and an animal spirit can be recognized as a kin…