Social Models

The original Creation-idea that the world was created by a female—or that is, delivered into being by some divine ‘Great Mother’, without any male involvement whatever, as introduced in yesterday’s blog—soon led our Stone Age ancestors to believe that their society itself should be organized around the female, with the eldest mother, or in time a council of mothers as its natural ruler.

And we know this how? Because while that was some forty thousand years ago, about twenty-five hundred of the world’s current seventeen thousand or so peoples, or almost fifteen percent, still maintain this ancient, primary focus on the female in their various societies—would you believe, some two thousand generations after it all began, and more than five hundred after the general rise of male-oriented societies!

Hard to believe? Here are oh, let’s say fifty that remain traditionally matriarchal (females hold the primary position in everything, including all property ownership), matrilineal (kinship and usually property is traced through the female line), and/or matrilocal (husband leaves his birth family behind and goes to live with his wife’s family).

  • the Namibean Aawambos: matrilineal
  • the North American Acomas: matrilineal
  • the Akans Ghanese: matrilineal
  • the North American Apaches: matrilineal and matrilocal
  • the North American Arikaras: matrilineal
  • the European Basques: matrilineal and matrilocal
  • the North African Berbers: matrilineal
  • the West African Isla Bijagós: matrilineal
  • the Costa Rican Bribris: matrilineal and matrilocal
  • the North American Cherokees: matrilineal and matrilocal; in their native culture, the most important man in the life of a child is the mother’s eldest brother—to the extent that the child isn’t formally recognized as related to its father
  • the North American Cheyennes: matrilineal
  • the North American Chicasaws: matrilineal
  • the North American Choctaws: matrilineal
  • the North American Crows: matrilineal and matrilocal
  • the Central American Cunas: matrilocal
  • the European Danes: matrilineal and matrilocal
  • the Indian Ezhavas: matrilineal
  • the Indian Garos: matrilineal and matrilocal
  • the European Greeks: various islands matrilocal
  • the North American Hidatsas: matrilineal
  • the North American Hopis: matrilineal and matrilocal
  • the North American Hurons: matrilineal; traditionally, tribal council consists of four-fifths women; kinship group or ‘clan matriarchs’, called Clan Mothers, choose tribal leader
  • the North American Iroquois: matrilineal and matrilocal
  • the Indian Jaintias: matrilineal and matrilocal
  • the Sumatran Kerenicis: matrilineal and matrilocal
  • the !Kung Sans of Africa’s Kalahari region: matrilineal
  • the Koms of Camaroon: matrilineal
  • the North American Lakotas: matrilineal
  • the Indian Malikus: matrilineal
  • the North American Mandans: matrilineal
  • the Marshall Islanders: matrilineal and matrilocal
  • the North American Mohawks: matrilineal and matrilocal
  • the Indian Nairs: matrilineal and matrilocal
  • the Chinese Nakhis: matrilineal
  • the Indian Nashuras: matriarchal
  • the North American Navajos: matrilineal and matrilocal
  • the Comoros Islands’ Ngazidjas: matrilineal and matrilocal
  • the African Nubians: matrilineal
  • the North American Onandagas: matrilineal, with women ruling the individual clans
  • the North American Oneidas: matrilineal; women own everything, elect clan leaders, and to some extent control warfare
  • the North American Pawnees: matrilineal and matrilocal
  • the PacificIslands’ Polynesians: matrilineal and matrilocal
  • the North American Seminoles: matrilineal
  • the North American Senecas: matrilineal; women own everything, also in charge of clans
  • the Taiwanese Sirayas: matrilineal
  • the Thais: matrilocal
  • the North American Tlingits: matrilineal and matrilocal
  • the Vanatinais of Papua New Guinea: matrilineal and matrilocal
  • the North American Witchitas: matrilineal and matrilocal
  • the North American Zunis: matrilineal

In all of these societies, mothers rule their own families—as in ‘female’, you know?—followed by their daughters in the order of their seniority; while the most important male in the life of a child is typically its mother’s eldest brother, as in the Cherokee example above.

Her brotherin other words, the child’s uncle. Now what was the etymology of that English word again?

_________________________

Sources

Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend, 2 vol., ed. Maria Leach, 1949

Wikipedia, Matriarchy https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matriarchy#Definitions,_connotations,_and_etymology

Wikipedia, List of matrilineal or matrilocal societies https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_matrilineal_or_matrilocal_societies

Wikipedia, Matrilineality https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matrilineality

Wikipedia, Native American cultures in the United States, Gender Roles https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_American_cultures_in_the_United_States

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