Aborigine Nuclear Family

The basic unit of the aborigines was the family, a man and his wives and their children. Men hunted larger game, women gathered vegetables, fruit, eggs and smaller animals.

Aborigine Walking at White Beach

Aborigine Walking at White Beach

Elders commanded most respect as they had lived longest and therefore had most experience.

Much behaviour was formed by ritual, and if somebody went against the rules, the punishment was also covered in ritual rather than law.

In one sense men had more power than women: they could take more than one wife, but a women could not take more than one husband. Sometimes, when bands met, wives were swapped, as a man had the right to dispose of his wife’s sexuality. If a marriage did not work out, the wife simply rejoined the pool of unmarried women, eventually to be taken by another man.

On a related note, the aborigines did not believe that having sex resulted in childbirth.

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