historic mating patterns of native north americans

still on vacation** (i know – it’s disgusting! (~_^) ) — but still reading! a bit.

i picked up this book (pub. 1969) in a used book store the other day (yes, an ACTUAL book store!). it includes a nice, although possbily out-of-date, summary of mating patterns/cousin marriage in native north american societies [pgs. 227-229 – links added by me]:


First-cousin marriage was permitted or perferred by a small minority of peoples….

“On the northern Northwest Coast, cross-cousin marriage was the preferred kind of union. If no first cross-cousin was available to a man, he chose a more remote cousin designated by the same word in the language. Among the Haida, a boy of ten years of age ideally went to live with his mother’s brother, who gave him his education in the lore of the sib as well as in practical matters. When the boy reached marriageable age, he ideally married his mother’s brother’s daughter and continued to live in the house of his mother’s brother. When the latter died, the boy, who was now the deceased’s son-in-law and also his sister’s son, inherited his house, land, and chattels as well as his social position and prestige. If no mother’s brother’s daughter was available to a young man, he might substitute a father’s sister’s daughter, who was designated by the same kinship term in the language….

“Among the Kaska, inland from the Northwest Coast, the only first cousin a man was permitted to marry was his mother’s brother’s daughter. This was the preferred marriage, although many men had to be content with cousins further removed or with unrelated wives. At Lake Teslin, between the Kaska and the coast, and among the Chipewyans farther east, a man could marry only his father’s sister’s daughter.

“Proceeding farther east to the Cree and Ojibwa, we find a different picture. Although marriages with both kinds of first cross-cousins were permitted, they were less frequent than those with more remote cousins. Double cross-cousin marriage sometimes occurred; a man married a woman who was both his mother’s brother’s daughter and his father’s sister’s daughter at the same time. This could happen only when two men in the older generation had exchanged their sisters, each marrying the other’s sister. The offspring from these unions would be double cross-cousins. Figures on the frequency of single cross-cousin marriage show that the mother’s brother’s daughter was married more often then the father’s sister’s daughter. The pattern of the Montagnais-Naskapi of the Labrador Peninsula was similar to that of the Cree and Ojibwa.

“In California and Oregon, cross-cousin marriage was permitted or perferred only by a small minority of tribelets, and in every case the mother’s brother’s daughter was singled out. In the Great Basin, cross-cousin marriage was permitted in a minority of localities but was nowhere the preferred form. In the Southwest, only the Walapai permitted a man to marry either variety of cross-cousin. The Maya of the Yucatan appear to have had both kinds of cross-cousin marriage at the time of first Spanish contact, although the evidence is indirect….

Parallel cousin marriage [like fbd marriage – h.chick] was tolerated in a very few localities, but was nowhere a preferred form.

complicating matters though:


The vast majority of North American peoples practiced polygyny. It was probably most frequent in the northern part of the Plains and Prairie areas…. Actual figures obtained from the records of priests among the Crees and Ojibwas indicate an incidence of polygyny in former times well over 20 per cent. Another area of common occurrence was the Northwest Coast. Although polygyny was limited to the wealthier class in this area, mainly because of the great amount of the bride price, it seems to have exceeded 20 per cent in many localities.

“Exclusive monogamy was the rule among the Iroquois and a few of their neighbors. This is to be expected in cultures in which matrilineal descent and matrilocal residence were coupled with female ownership and control of agricultural land and houses, not to mention the unusual authority of women in political affairs. Here the men literally moved in with their wives, who could divorce them merely by tossing their personal effects out of the door of the longhouse….”

ruh-roh! (~_^)

“The only other area where female dominance approached this level was that of the western Pueblos in the Southwest. Here the picture was similar, and exclusive monogamy prevailed. The other instances of exclusive monogamy were scattered and occurred in both bilateral and patrilineal societies. They do not lend themselves to any ready explanation.

“Sororal polygyny — that is, the marriage of a man to two wives who were sisters — probably occurred wherever polygyny was to be found. A number of Plains tribes had no other form. A man in this society was especially anxious to acquire an eldest sister as a first mate, with an eye on acquiring her younger sister if and when he could afford them…. [I]t is easy to see that polygyny had more utility in societies where male mortality in hunting and warfare was high. The Plains was one of these areas. Among the Eskimos, where a man had more difficulty in supporting multiple wives, the extremely high male mortality was offset by female infanticide. This partially explains the more modest amount of polygyny present in the Arctic.”

more on native north americans eventually! (^_^)

previously: mating patterns in colonial mexico: the mayans and the kato

**not hbd chick

(note: comments do not require an email. haida guys.)


linkfest – 09/15/13

Sir David Attenborough: Humans have stopped evolving“Human beings have stopped evolving becoming the only species to ‘put halt to natural selection of its own free will’, Sir David Attenborough has said, as he predicts the ‘cultural evolution’ of the future.” – lots of responses to that including: Humans are still evolving, and soon we’ll know a lot more about it – from john hawks; Evolution – it’s not over yet – from tom chivers; and Sir David Attenborough is wrong – humans are still evolving – from ian rickard.

Fate of new genes cannot be predicted“New versions of genes, called alleles, can appear by mutation in populations. Even when these new alleles turn the individuals carrying them more fit to survive and reproduce, the most likely outcome is that they will get lost from the populations. The theory that explains these probabilities has been postulated by the scientist J.B.S. Haldane almost 90 years ago. This theory has become the cornerstone of modern population genetics…. The research team … has now experimentally tested Haldane’s theory.”

Poorest Costa Ricans live longest“Biological markers confirm unusually slow ageing regardless of wealth, at least in one population.” – h/t jayman!

Uros people of Peru and Bolivia found to have distinctive genetic ancestries“Genographic project research shows ancestry may date to Altiplano’s initial settlement.”

African-American study identifies four genetic variants associated with blood pressure“‘We anticipated that individuals of African ancestry share similar biology to other populations. However, differences in genomic make-up between African ancestry and other populations have uncovered additional genes affecting blood pressure, in addition to genetic variants that are specific to individuals of African ancestry….'” – via amren.

Handedness GWAS Leads to Suspected Left-Right Asymmetry Genes“A team from the UK and the Netherlands has garnered evidence suggesting left- and right-handedness may involve genes from some of the same pathways that produce other features differing on right and left sides of the body.”

Functional genetic variation in humans: Comprehensive map published“European scientists, led by researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE)’s Faculty of Medicine in the context of the GEUVADIS project, today present a map that points to the genetic causes of differences between people. The study, published in Nature and Nature Biotechnology, offers the largest-ever dataset linking human genomes to gene activity at the level of RNA.”

Insect leg cogs a first in animal kingdom“Toothed gears enable young plant hoppers to synchronize limbs for jumping.”go home, evolution, you are drunk.

The Science of What Makes an Introvert and an Extrovert

Testes Size Correlates With Men’s Involvement in Toddler Care“Men with smaller testes than others are more likely to be involved in hands-on care of their toddlers….” – h/t hbd bibliography!

Can Your Language Influence Your Spending, Eating, and Smoking Habits?“[S]peakers with weak future tenses (e.g. German, Finnish and Estonian) were 30 percent more likely to save money, 24 percent more likely to avoid smoking, 29 percent more likely to exercise regularly, and 13 percent less likely to be obese, than speakers of languages with strong future tenses, like English.” – (“but where does language come from?” hbd chick mumbles to herself in the back row….)

‘Love hormone’ may play wider role in social interaction than previously thought“The new study, to be published Sept. 12 in Nature, pinpoints a unique way in which oxytocin alters activity in a part of the brain that is crucial to experiencing the pleasant sensation neuroscientists call ‘reward’…. ‘People with autism-spectrum disorders may not experience the normal reward the rest of us all get from being with our friends….’ Some genetic evidence suggests the awkward social interaction that is a hallmark of autism-spectrum disorders may be at least in part oxytocin-related. Certain variations in the gene that encodes the oxytocin receptor – a cell-surface protein that senses the substance’s presence – are associated with increased autism risk.”

More Money, More Children“‘[N]ow better-off people seem to be having more children; in the U.S., the fertility rate of wives whose husbands are in the top decile of income is back where it was a century ago.'” – h/t puzzle pirate!

Ashkenazi Jewish gene pool derives from ‘recent severe bottleneck’ of 300-400 individuals ca. 800 years ago – @race/history/evolution notes.

Morality and the Epiphany of Joshua Greene“The manifestations of morality are complex, but its origins are simple. Evolved behavioral predispositions are the ultimate reason for its existence…. Those behavioral traits evolved without a goal, and without a purpose. They exist because they happened to increase our chances of surviving and procreating at a time when our mode of existence as well as our social and physical environment were radically different from what they are now.” – helian’s on fire! (not literally … i hope.)

Are Women Less Corrupt?“Women are more likely than men to disapprove of — and less likely to participate in — political corruption, but only in countries where corruption is stigmatized…. ‘When corruption is stigmatized, as in most democracies, women will be less tolerant and less likely to engage in it compared with men. But if ‘corrupt’ behaviors are an ordinary part of governance supported by political institutions, there will be no corruption gender gap.'” – h/t jayman!

Politicians like power – from steve sailer.

Study: The Neg Works – (~_^) – @heartiste.

Some people are feminine – get over it“Whenever you have one group of people who believe one thing for ideological reasons, and another who believe something else because their business model depends on it, I tend to trust the latter. Who do you think knows more about the minds of girls and boys — the academics who’ve spent years discussing gender feminism, or people who sell toys?” (~_^) – from ed west.

A Brief Word On Pedophilia – scharlach reminds everyone what pedophilia is. THANK you!

Stephen Hsu on Cognitive Genomics“At the extremes, there are some academics and social activists who violently oppose any kind of research into the genetics of cognitive ability. Given that the human brain — its operation, construction from a simple genetic blueprint, evolutionary history — is one of the great scientific mysteries of the universe, I cannot understand this point of view.”

Heritability estimates and unexplained variance“Nobody owns unexplained variance.” – from dr. james thompson.

Study sheds light on genetics of how and why fish swim in schools“‘The motivation to be social is common among fish and humans…. ‘Some of the same brain regions and neurological chemicals that control human social behavior are probably involved in fish social behavior as well.'”

Why do haters have to hate? Newly identified personality trait holds clues“New research has uncovered the reason why some people seem to dislike everything while others seem to like everything. Apparently, it’s all part of our individual personality – a dimension that researchers have coined ‘dispositional attitude.'”

Everyday sadists take pleasure in others’ pain“[P]eople who score high on a measure of sadism seem to derive pleasure from behaviors that hurt others, and are even willing to expend extra effort to make someone else suffer.” – yeah. you know who you are.

How an evolutionary model is better at explaining decisions than neo-classical and behavioral economics models: A review of Douglas T. Kenrick and Vladas Griskevicius, The Rational Animal: How Evolution Made us Smarter than we Think.

Making The Right Mistakes: Error Management And The Evolution Of Errors“Human cognitive mechanisms evolved to deal with the problems of the past, where we spent 99% of our history, not those of the present. We should, therefore, hardly expect our brains to perform well all the time in modern settings where the social and physical environment is so different.”

From Slavs to Slaves“Between 1500 and 1650, Eastern Europe exported 1.5 million slaves to North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. Western Europe exported a little over a million between 1530 and 1780.” – from peter frost.

The Madonna or the Whore? – @thosewhocansee.

E.O. Wilson has a new explanation for consciousness, art & religion. Is it credible?

The Evolutionary Case for Great Fiction“Might reading literature help with species survival?” (species survival? hmmmm.)

2013 ig nobel awards were announced this week! my favorite this year: the probability prize – “[T]he longer a cow has been lying down, the more likely that cow will soon stand up; and Second, that once a cow stands up, you cannot easily predict how soon that cow will lie down again.” (^_^)

Mayan mass grave containing 1,400-year-old remains of DECAPITATED prisoners of war discovered in Mexico

Plans to evict Botswana Bushmen revealed by leaked report – @survival international. h/t andrew badenoch!

bonus: Parasite Ants Drafted as Mercenaries

bonus bonus: Inheritance of lifespan is sex-dependent in fruit flies

bonus bonus bonus: ‘Time travel is easy — in one direction,’ says Prof Brian Cox – but the time lords figured it out!

bonus bonus bonus bonus: The sound of interstellar space…” (or not!) – h/ts michael anissimov and nelson!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Wherever there is red tape, the truth will be stranger than fiction“As the [u.k.’s] Government reflects on a bureaucratic obsession with ‘equality’, we ask: which of these tales of political correctness are made up?”

(note: comments do not require an email. all that’s required for successful time travel.)

linkfest – 04/28/13

Questions you never thought to ask: Is inbreeding bad for democracy? – i thought to ask. so did a few other people (way before me!): steve sailer, stanley kurtz, parapundit. see also Cousin Marriage and Democracy. and, of course, see also woodley and bell. and see Question of the Day @breviosity. previously: consanguinity and democracy.

A Dose of Clannishness and What’s So Bad About Clanocracy? – @breviosity!

Where do those tensions come from?“When the Milgram experiment was done with Jordanian assistants, they were just as willing as Americans to inflict pain under orders (62.5%). But they were more willing than Americans [1.4%] to inflict pain when no orders were given, with 12.5% of them delivering shocks right up to the top end of the scale (Shanab & Yahya, 1978).” – great post from peter frost!

Modern Europe’s Genetic History Starts in Stone Age“Scientists create the first detailed genetic history of modern Europe.” – original research article. see also mtDNA haplogroup H and the origin of Europeans (Brotherton et al. 2013) from dienekes.

As women live longer and have fewer children, they are becoming taller and slimmer, study finds“‘This is a reminder that declines in mortality rates do not necessarily mean that evolution stops, but that it changes.'”

Birth Defects, FBD Marriages – from anatoly.

HBD Fundamentals – from jayman!

Why the Tropics are an evolutionary hotbed“Ant family tree shows tropical New World hosts fast speciation while also keeping older lineages alive.”

Study: People Who Believe in God Are More Responsive to Treatment of Depression“It may be that ‘the tendency to have faith in conventional social constructs’ can be generalized both to religion and the medical establishment.”

Beauty isn’t skin deep – @mangan’s.

Social psychology fraud: Just tell professors what they want to hear – from steve sailer.

Book Review: Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (2012) by Susan Cain – from staffan. and a classic: Caring for Your Introvert. (just shush already! (~_^) )

Ethnic origins of Forbes world billionaires (2013) – @race/history/evolution notes.

Computer scientists suggest new spin on origins of evolvability“‘[E]volvable species accumulate over time even without selective pressure.'” – in their computer simulations.

Culture — Not Just a Human Thing – vervet monkeys got culture. also Parrots Barter With Nuts.

Humans Evolved Flexible, Lopsided Brains – some of us more lopsided than others. (~_^)

When Do Babies Become Conscious?“New research shows that babies display glimmers of consciousness and memory as early as 5 months old.”

Fish win fights on strength of personality“When predicting the outcome of a fight, the big guy doesn’t always win suggests new research on fish.”

Feeding our gut bacteria meat may enhance heart disease risks“Antibiotics or vegetarian diets block production of a risk-associated chemical.”

On Hold: Genes That Pause Pregnancy Discovered

Giza Secret Revealed: How 10,000 Pyramid Builders Got Fed“This meat-rich diet, along with the availability of medical care (the skeletons of some workers show healed bones), would have been an additional lure for ancient Egyptians to work on the pyramids…. ‘They probably got a much better diet than they got in their village….'”

Earliest Mayan monuments unearthed in Guatemala. see also Ancient Maya discovery sheds new light on the origins of civilization.

bonus: Levels of Commitment to the Dark Enlightenment – @habitable worlds. also What are characteristics of the Dark Enlightenment? @occam’s razor.

bonus bonus: How Cuban Villagers Learned They Descended From Sierra Leone Slaves“The amazing story of the traditional songs and dances, passed down over hundreds of years, that have tied a small Caribbean ethnic group to a remote African tribe.” – cool story!

bonus bonus bonus: Revealed: The Indian village with just 6,000 inhabitants … but more than 100 pairs of twins – another town of twins!

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Can Animals Be Mentally Ill?

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: not a news story, but here’s the definition of stubborn – Last Two Speakers of Dying Language Refuse to Talk to Each Other

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Thanks to rare alpine bacteria, researchers identify one of alcohol’s key gateways to the brain“Discovery is a step on the road to eventually developing drugs that could disrupt the interaction between alcohol and the brain.” – cool! wait. they want to disrupt the effect of alcohol on the brain?! hey!

(note: comments do not require an email. vervet monkeys!)

hispanic family values

lots of conservatives (rinos in particular maybe) like to talk about how great hispanic/mexican family values are, and what a wonderful addition these will be to american society (never mind the sky-high illegitimacy rates in the hispanic community) — but what these so-called conservatives don’t understand is that hispanic/mexican family values are different from our (well, your, if you’re a wasp that is) family values.

it’s called familism (familismono kidding!) — and hispanics/mexicans got it in spades [pg. 314 – pdf]:

Familism can be defined as a social pattern whereby individual interests, decisions, and actions are conditioned by a network of relatives thought in many ways to take priority over the individual. This social pattern manifests itself through three dimensions: (1) the attitudinal, expressed in dispositions, values, and beliefs that prioritize the welfare of the family; (2) the behavioral, expressed in everyday actions, or major decisions, informed by one’s attachment to family ties; and (3) the structural, expressed in the spatial architecture of family networks (Steidel and Contreras 2003; Valenzuela and Dornbusch 1994). Researchers from several disciplines have observed that familism is an important component of Hispanic culture (Okagaki and Frensch 1998; Oyserman, Coon, and Kemmelmeier 2002). At the attitudinal level, Hispanic adults and adolescents value interdependence, as well as family support and obligations, more so than whites (Fuligni, Tseng, and Lam 1999; Harrison et al. 1990; Sabogal et al. 1987). At the behavioral level, Hispanics report higher degrees of familial cohesion and intimacy than whites (Niemann, Romero, and Arbona 2000; Sabogal et al. 1987) and assist family members in instrumental ways more so than whites (Sarkisian, Gerena, and Gerstel 2006). And at the structural level, Hispanics, and Mexican Americans in particular, live in larger and denser kinship networks than whites (Sarkisian et al. 2006; Valenzuela and Dornbusch 1994).”

well, that all sounds great — and it is, in its own way — but what it isn’t is anything like the anglo/anglo-american family tradition which is based upon the nuclear family and the individualism of its members, a societal structure that appears to go right back to the thirteenth century (see also here and here). if someone says to you “hispanic family values,” you should absolutely not picture in your mind june and ward cleaver along with wally and the beav — and, maybe, uncle billy coming over for thanksgiving dinner every other year.

no. hispanic/mexican familism (and, of course, there is a lot of variety here — latin america is a big place) means a lot of extended family — and, for whatever reasons, a lot of extended family obligations. which is also fine — but there are only twenty-four hours in a day, and if you’ve got obligations to your immediate family AND your tío jorge and all his kids, and your tía rosa and all her kids, etc., etc., there’s simply going to be less time in your day to devote to other things like the broader community. as someone who comes from a large clan (52 first cousins!), i know this to be true — there’s just not a whole lot of spare time for anything other than family (except you guys, of course! (~_^) ).

“but won’t hispanics quit being so extended-family oriented once they assimilate to american culture, hbd chick?”

i dunno. and neither does anyone else.

there are some indications that the amount of some aspects of familism is lower among hispanics/mexicans raised in the u.s. than their immigrant parents, but not all aspects — and all of these familism metrics remain higher in hispanic groups than for white americans. (what would be interesting to know is how much familism there is in the new mexican hispanic population. i couldn’t find anything on that anywhere — might try to dig some data up from the gss myself….)

i’m of the opinion that the development of strong feelings towards one’s extended family (or not) is a question of evolution, so changing those feelings, afaics, ought to take some time. the english (see links above or the “mating patterns in europe series” below ↓ in left-hand column) have had a loooong history of individualism and nuclear families, a process which started, i think, in the early medieval period with the bans on cousin marriage by the roman catholic church. mexicans, and other hispanics, have had a very different evolutionary history when it comes to family feelings and cohesiveness.

the colonial mayans, for instance, had close, endogamous mating patterns — and they lived in extended-family settlements, just as their pre-columbian ancestors had done, indicating that extended-family-ness in mayan society goes way back [pgs. 368-369]:

“[T]he Mayas divided up house-plots or treated contiguous plots as one so that what might have officially been nuclear families living on separate house-plots were really multiple-residence extended-family household complexes. Not only have such patterns of residential clustering survived to the present in much of Mexico, but they have been observed by archaeologists for a number of pre-Columbian Maya sites — most notably Coba, Dzibilchaltun, K’axob, Mayapan, and Tikal….

“[A] typical grandfamily household might occupy adjacent house-plots and its member frequent the neighboring plots of related households of the same patronym-group or alliance of patronym-groups.

“The free movement of family members and animals between plots symbolized the blurred lines between separate and joint…. To avoid cutting up parcels of land … Mayas made use of the parallel principle of multial, ‘joint ownership.’ Typically then, a plot of land was placed in the hands of a representative of the household or, in the cases of large cultivated plots, the patronym-group….

“Because those household members who lived on or from a plot of land were in some sense considered its joint owners, family members effectively held shares in such property, which they then left to successive generations.”

the spanish tried to break down these extended family units by forcing the natives to register their houses/lands according to nuclear family units (eg. one house with a certain amount of acreage connected to it), but as restall describes above, the maya simply worked around these bureaucratic nuisances. what needed to be done, of course, was to ban close marriages in the new world — but that was too much of an imposition on all those potential new world recruits that the church so desperately wanted to harvest, so they gave much of latin america a (beyond first cousin) cousin marriage dispensation in 1537 (including mexico, i think, but i do need to double-check that).

aztec society was structured quite differently from that of the maya, but from what i understand (so far) about the aztecs, extended families and “clans” (calpulli) were also very important there. (i’ll get back to you on aztec society when i get through reading more about them!)

in any case, hispanics/mexicans are still devoted to their extended families. not that there’s anything wrong with that! except that familism does tend to go along with some other, undesirable societal features like corruption (see lipset and lenz) — fyi, mexico ranked #100 in transparency international’s 2011 survey.

true conservatives would hold off on inviting tens of millions of people from a very differently behaving population into this country — at least until we understood something of why the behaviors differed.

previously: mating patterns in colonial mexico: the mayans

(note: comments do not require an email. aus mexico!)

mating patterns in colonial mexico: yucatec maya population size

here we go. from Maya Society under Colonial Rule: The Collective Enterprise of Survival [pg. 59], three sets of yucatec maya population size estimates/educated guesstimates (take your pick!) for the colonial period (click on chart for LARGER view):

i thought i could combine these numbers with restall’s info on mayan family/mating patterns, which are based upon census and testamentary records, and see, maybe, just how close the mating patterns were amongst the colonial maya. here’s what restall had to say:

– there were a total of 270 patronym groups (chibalob) in the yucatan living in 200 communities (cah).
– a typical cah would have had 30-40 patronym groups in it.
– a typical family would have marriage alliances with four or five other patronym groups.
– people generally didn’t marry outside of their cah (village, barrio, community).

you had to marry outside your patronym group, and it’s likely that a good number of marriages were between maternal cousins (i know – i haven’t posted about this yet – sorry!). it was probably the preferred form of marriage anyway, although that doesn’t mean that everyone married a maternal cousin.

how many individuals are typically of reproductive age in any given society? were in colonial maya society? i have no idea. let’s assume — and this probably wasn’t true — but let’s assume that they had a stable population — not expanding, not contracting (just for the sake of argument). if we divy up the population’s age cohorts by five — 0-5, 5-10, 10-15, etc. — going up to, let’s say, age 70, we’ve got 21.4% of the population in the 10-25 marrying age range. (the colonial maya weren’t polygamous, btw — the pre-columbian aztecs were though.)

so — 200,000 maya in 270 patronym groups = ca. 740 individuals in each patronym group. 21.4% of that gives you ca. 158 people of reproductive age per patronym group. an equal number of men and women? maybe, maybe not — but let’s say yes, so that’s ca. 79 reproductive men and women per each patronym group. and your patronym group was connected to something like five others according to restall, so that’s a potential 395 individuals you could marry. sounds pretty good!

but remember, the maya usually didn’t marry outside their cah. that’s 200,000 people across 200 cah, so 1,000 people in each cah. divided between 30-40 patronym groups — let’s call it 35 — so 28-29 individuals in each patronym group in each cah. 21.4% of those are in the marriage age range = six individuals (three men, three women). times the five patronym groups that your patronym group is allied to leaves you with just 15 possible spouses for you to choose from. that’s a pretty narrow range. generation after generation.

and chances are, people would’ve married one of their maternal cousins anyway.

colonial yucatec maya marriage patterns, over a three-hundred or so year period (1550-1850), were probably either quite inbred and/or very endogamous.

previously: mating patterns in colonial mexico: the mayans

(note: comments do not require an email. yucatec maya gentleman. (^_^) )

mating patterns in colonial mexico: the mayans

i thought i’d start looking at the mating patterns of mexicans. it’s a tall order, i feel, ’cause there are/were lots of different groups of native mexicans: mayans, aztecs (guess we’re supposed to call them nahuas now), zapotecs, mixtecs, and so on and so forth. *whew!* well, may as well get started…

mexicans, today, don’t marry their cousins much (they’re good catholics i guess) — 0.3%-1.3% cousin marriage rates were recorded in the 1960s [pgs. 1-2, pdf]. during the 1500s through the 1800s, the general pattern, i think, was very local endogamy — marriage within what the spanish would call el barrio — and for some groups, like the mayans, regular, repeated marriages between a handful of clans. interestingly, local marriage (within the barrio) still happened at least in some places in 1960s mexico (see The Barrios of San Andreas Cholula, pg. 65+ – i’ll come back to this in a future post) — old habits die hard i suppose.

some groups in colonial mexico seem to have allowed cousin marriage, but not necessarily to have preferred it. there are good indications that the mayans preferred cross-cousin marriage, but i’ll come back to that in yet another future post. right now, the mating patterns/family types of the yucatec mayans during the colonial period.

if the uplanders vs. lowlanders theory is correct, a h*ckuva lot of mexicans ought to have been inbreeders. the mayans living waaay out on the yucatan peninsula should have practiced more outbreeding compared to other mexican populations though, unless they just did what their mayan brethren living further to the southwest (and, therefore, further upland) did:

here’s the mayan territory in dark beige (those are the aztecs nahuas in mint green):

the mayans lived together in extended family groupings, each nuclear family in its own house, with the extended family sharing house-plots and farmland (if they were farmers). what later became known as the barrios — the hamlets or small towns comprised of these extended family house-plots — were called “cah” by the mayans. every extended family was part of a larger patrilineage or patronym group known as a chibal (pl. chibalob). reminiscent of china, you could not marry within your patronym in mayan society. so, you might, perhaps, marry cousins/other relatives on your mother’s side, but not on your father’s (all children took their father’s patronym).

from The Maya World: Yucatec Culture and Society, 1550-1850 [pgs. 17, 92]:

“Within a given cah, members of a chibal — those of the same patronym — formed a kind of extended family, most of whose members seem to have pusued their common interest wherever possible through political factionalism, the acquisition and safeguarding of land, and the creation of marriage-based alliances with other chibalob of similar or higher socioeconomic status. Such marriages were in part necessary because chibalob were exogamous, a principle that seems to have been applied across cah lines, although after the conquest there was no formal organization of chibal members beyond the cah level. Chibalob were closer to exogamous clans than to lineages, bearing similarities to both, although the Maya term more accurately reflects their particular combination of characteristics….

“The maintenance of the Maya taboo on intrachibal marriage reflects the maintenance of the practice of interchibal marital alliance, which created multi-chibal households. The combination of these households was a cah-wide network of chibal interest-groups. The effect was to help perpetuate the class system, since chibal interest groups tended to consist of families at similar socioeconomic levels.”

from The Ties That Bind: Social Cohesion and the Yucatec Maya Family we get some potentially useful population numbers (which i am too tired to think about tonight) [pgs. 363-365]:

“I have noted about 270 patronym-groups in the colonial record, represented in documentation that has survived from almost all of the approximately 200 Maya communites in the province….

Community endogamy is suggested by testamentary evidence from Ixil, where every single one of sixty-eight couples living in the early eighteenth century represented community-endogamous marriages (sixty-six of them, or 97 percent, were natives of Ixil, the remaining two couples having married fellow community members elsewhere and subsequently moving to Ixil). This data contrasts somewhat with evidence from a tribute census of 1721 and that of late-colonial parish registers. The 1721 census show that eighteen of twenty-one communities in one region of the province contained residents born in another community, although they were a definite minority (of these twenty-one communities, half contained between zero and 12 percent of adults born in another community, and the rest had up to 32 percent nonnative adults, with one community showing a figure of 57 percent). Parish records show that while community exogamy was substantial in certain communities, it was neither a widespread nor a random phenomenon, nor did it represent a gradual migration from small communities, to regional centers, to Merida; rather, it was restricted to certain communities that maintained strong ties with a small number of other communities (Sotuta with Teabo and Tiho, for example, and Tecoh, Ticul, and Homun with one particular community within Tiho, San Sebastian). I would argue, therefore, that while data on migration and marriage reveals a wide range of individual community variants, community endogamy was the norm; in the vast majority of communities, the majority of the population married fellow residents, while a minority was subject to migration and marriage patterns that were usually community distinct….”

“Patronym-group clustering meant that a small proportion of the total number of patronyms were represented in any given community…. [A] typical family living in a modest-size community would be familiar with thirty to forty local patronyms — and would also be related to half a dozen or more of them.

“As patronym-groups were exogamous, the family members on a typical house-plot would not all hold the same patronym; women retained their patronyms after marriage, although children took their fathers’ surnames. As children married and some stayed on the house-plot, more patronym-groups would become represented in the household complex. The multipatronym nature of the household might suggest that the latter was more important than patronym-group organization, and that no doubt would have been the case had love’s whimsical nature been the sole factor in marriage choice. However, where the documentary sources are dense enough, visible patronym-related patterns reveal the organization significance of marriage decisions.

“For example, the 1570 Cozumel census and the collections of wills from seventeenth-century Cacalchen and eighteenth century Ixil show that families tended to form alliance groups of, typically, four or five coresident patronym-groups of similar socioeconomic standing in the community. The class structure of patronym-groups within a community can be compiled using testamentary information…. In Ixil in the 1760s, for example, there were forty patronym-groups (as recorded in testaments) that can be placed into eight socioeconomic levels; at the top, the circle of marital alliances tightens (eleven patronym-groups comprise four levels of nobility), and at the bottom, it widens considerably, although practices designed to tighten the circle, while still conforming to patronym-groups exogamy — such as preferential bilateral cross-cousin marriage — remain in evidence.

so, again, rather like china, we have handfuls of patronym groups — clans — marrying and re-marrying one another (but outside the patronym) over the course of, at least, at couple of hundred years. the researcher, matthew restall, found around 270 patronyms in 200 mayan communities. i wonder if he’s published any estimated population figures anywhere? from that we could try to work out actual inbreeding rates/patterns! cool.

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segregation is good

ethnic enclaves are bad. if you want to keep people alive and prevent ethnic conflict, that is.

a couple of real world examples…

first, guatemala. in “Spatial and Temporal Patterns in Civil Violence: Guatemala 1977-1986,” timothy gulden found, amongst other things, that [pg. 29]:

The amount of killing in a municipality was correlated with its ethnic mix….

“The distribution of ethnic population among municipalities was highly polarized and the distribution U-shaped, as suggested by the gray bars in the histogram presented as Figure 3.

“Thus, at both ends of this histogram, where one group or the other [ladinos vs. mayans] represented more than 90 percent of a local population, and also in the middle, where neither group was more than 75-percent dominant, killings of Mayans, the principal victims, were fewer.”

here’s the histogram:

more from gulden [pg. 34]:

The ethnic mix histogram showed the greatest number of killings in municipalities with predominantly Mayan populations, but fewer killings in the most heavily Mayan areas. This pattern might have been produced by an attempt to clear Mayans from mixed Mayan-Ladino areas but a disinclination to do the same, to attempt ‘ethnic cleansing,’ in the Mayan heartland. The ethnic mix histogram also showed a small rise in killings where Mayans were between 10 and 25 percent of the population. Minority populations of such proportions might somehow have threatened or annoyed a local Ladino majority without effectively restraining it. Members of the smallest Mayan populations were safer; they might typically have been individual servants or laborers, with or without families, well known to Ladino employers.”

re. switzerland and the former yugoslavia — from an article i posted about the other day, “Good Fences: The Importance of Setting Boundaries for Peaceful Coexistence”, the authors found that, in both switzerland and the former yugoslavia, there was the least amount of ethnic conflict in those areas where topographical and/or political boundaries clearly separated different linguistic, religious and/or ethnic groups, but where there were porous borders, there was more conflict. the former situation is more characteristic of switzerland on the whole, while the latter characterizes the former yugolavia, ergo more ethnic conflict in the former yugoslavia [pgs. 10-12]:

“Our work clarifies the ambiguities of mixed language and religion Swiss cantons by showing that in most cases the natural geography of the populations conspires to lead to a low level of violence, so that additional boundaries were not necessary; where they were needed, as in Graubunden, they were established. The highest calculated propensity to violence is between linguistic groups in the northern part of the canton of Bern, where historically unresolved real world tensions actually exist. Our analysis indicates that both administrative and natural barriers can play a significant role in mitigating conflict between religious and linguistic groups. Historical evidence suggests that for religious groups the boundaries in Switzerland were created to provide autonomy to a group with a shared identity and avoid conflict among multiple groups. Ongoing efforts to reduce tensions in Bern include introducing new political boundaries. The many political, social and economic factors that play roles in reducing violence build on a strong foundation of geographical borders.

diversity is strength … in killing games. =/

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