Gender Related Social Groups

Social structure is defined over the double relationships in which the positions of both parents are given equal weight (Gregor, 1977, p. 288ff.). This bilateral system opens a field of interpretation and manipulation of kinship, but at the same time it speaks for the ideal of equality of the sexes. As in the naming of the children, where both family lines are transmitted, Mehinako society also gives equal weight to both genders in kinship questions.

The rule of matrilocality is applied for marriage. However, it can be relaxed in special cases, such as for the young men who are expected to take over a political or spiritual leadership role in the village.

The men's house in the center of the village provides a gathering place for men. It also serves as seclusion chamber for future shaman aspirants and as the store for the "holy trumpets," which women are not supposed to see while they are being played. Women are not provided with a comparable institution; their gathering places are the "trash-yards"—kitchens behind each longhouse— where they visit one another to exchange news.

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