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Arrernte Kinship DiagramArrernte life has always revolved around family and social relationships.

Roles and Responsibilities

In the old days men and women had very distinct jobs to do. Teamwork was the key to survival.

Men were responsible for making fire and tools and hunting big animals like Kangaroo and Emu.

Women were responsible for gathering the plant foods, grubs and small lizards, cooking these foods and looking after all of the children until the little boys started getting intereted in the little girls (then they went off with the men to become men).

The old people are the most important people in the family. They hold the knowledge and let you know when it is time to move on to your next phase of learning. The old people always get to eat first and have their pick of the meat.


There are eight Arrernte skin names (pictured above): Penangke, Perrurle, Kemarre, Peltharre, Kngwarraye, Angale, Ampetyane and Pengarte. This name describes your rights, your responsibilities to each other and the land and how you are related to everyone around you.

The tone of relationships varies. For instance: cousins usually have a joking and teasing relationship whereas a relationship with an uncle will be respectful and formal. Mother-in-Laws and Son-in-Laws are not allowed to speak directly to one another as a sign of mutual respect.

Compare with Sonoran Desert culture.