Unangam Aleut Social System

Patricia J. Petrivelli


An analysis of the kinship terminology used in pre-contact Aleut society reveals a balanced system without indications of matrilineal or patrilineal descent. The social system of the Aleut, especially the nature of the pre-contact descent reckoning, has been a subject of scholarly debate for several decades. The early researchers studying the kinship and social organization of the pre-contact and early contact Unangam Aleut society characterized the descent system as matrilineal, stressing the importance of the avunculate relationship as the basis for this conclusion. A review of marriage patterns and post-marital residence indicates patrilineal tendencies that would overshadow implications from the avunculate relationship.

  • Patricia J. Petrivelli, Office of Subsistence Management, U. S. Fish and Wildlife, 3601 C Street, Suite 1030, Anchorage, Alaska 99503

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