On the Evolution of American Indian Kinship Systems in World Historical Perspective
Per Hage


In N. J. Allen's world historical theory of kinship, humanity began with a tetradic system similar to the Kariera and Dravidian systems of Australia and South India. These systems are based on a rule of cross-cousin marriage which is reflected in a set of kin term equations. Support for Allen's theory depends on the reconstruction of proto-kinship systems using historical documents, the comparative method of historical linguistics and comparative ethnographic data. Historical patterns in the evolution of kinship terminologies away from the Dravidian/Kariera pole are predictable form Greenberg's theory of kinship universals. This paper summarizes some evidence for Allen's theory from American Indian kinship systems.