Omaha kinship is a kinship system used to define family. Identified by Louis 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 (Eskimo, Hawaiian, Iroquois, Crow, Omaha, and Sudanese).

Kinship system[]

In function, the system is extremely similar to the Crow system. However, whereas Crow groups are matrilineal, Omaha descent groups are characteristically patrilineal. In this system relatives are sorted according to their descent and their gender. Ego's father and his brothers are merged together under a single term and a similar pattern is seen for Ego's mother and her sisters. Like most other kinship systems, Omaha kinship distinguishes between Parallel and Cross cousins. While Parallel cousins are merged with siblings, Cross cousins are differentiated by generational divisions. On the maternal side Cross cousins are raised a generation (making them Ego's Mother's Brother and Ego's Mother) while those on the paternal side are lowered a generation (making them the generational equivalent of Ego's Children's).

The system is similar to Iroquois kinship and uses Bifurcate merging, however, only the Iroquois system uses BM as a label.

Graphic of the Omaha kinship system


The system is named for the Omaha, a Native American tribe from Nebraska. Currently the Omaha system is in use by the Dani tribe of Papua and the Igbo of Nigeria.

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