Moiety and Kinship

Aboriginal people have a complex set of totemic relationships that govern how they relate to the world and to each other. Essentially the kinship system provides each person with a set of relationships and responsibilities to other people and to the entire world. In the Top End of the Northern Territory this is evidenced by the broad dual moeity system of Dhuwa and Yirritja.

Mirarr and other Aboriginal people in Kakadu and the West Arnhem region refer to themselves as Bininj and to non-aboriginal people as Balanda. In North East Arnhem Land the term for aboriginal people is Yolŋu. The kinship and moiety systems described here are consistent across the Northern Territory’s Top End.

Everything in the Yolŋu world view is made up of two moieties. One is Yirritja and the other one is Dhuwa. Dhuwa and Yirritja make up our world view. They are two halves of our holistic world view. Yirritja and Dhuwa fit together perfectly. Everything in Yirritja and Dhuwa is connected. Yirritja and Dhuwa people intermarry and everything in the land is either Yirritja or Dhuwa.
Dr R. Marika" from

In the local traditional languages of Kakadu/West Arnhem there is no word equivalent to the English descriptor ‘family’. This reflects the broad embrace of the Indigenous notion of kinship and the relatedness amongst and between peoples.

Kinship is the all-pervasive theme central to understanding Aboriginal culture. It is a complicated but an extremely eloquent system.