Every tribe in Australia was divided into a number of small social groups, but for marriage purposes, into two main groups sometimes called marriage moieties. Let’s call them A and B.
People from group A could not marry people from the same group. In other words they married people from group B. However each marriage moiety was subdivided into a number of smaller divisions. Let’s call them A1, A2, A3, A4 and B1,B2,B3 and B4. Again, people who belonged to the same moiety or sub-section, could not marry each other.
The Aborigines identified these groups by totemic names based on Dreamtime creation beliefs. For example one group may have been black swan people, another blue tongued lizard people or Blue Gum Tree people. This may sound a bit strange, but when understood in the context of the stories, it makes sense.
The totemic system meant that people from one group could not marry people from the same group. For example black swan people didn’t intermarry, but may have married speckled duck people based on a Dreamtime story that told them that these ‘creatures’ had a relationship with each other.
An important aspect of the totemic system was that each person in a bloodline relationship had a different totem. This had the effect of preventing the marriage of fathers and their daughters, mothers their sons, sisters their brothers.
Marriage arrangements were made when children were very young and even before they were born. This meant that a girl was promised to a male at an early age and married him (through a handing-over ceremony), when she was about 11 or 12 years of age – when she reached puberty.
Marriage by capture also took place as did elopement, but these were offenses against tribal lore law and the perpetrators were punished.
It is also a fact that in Aboriginal society, it was not unusual for a man to have more than one wife. However while this gives the impression that their society was c

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