The Merikit have both a chief and a queen. The chief is the religious leader of the Merikit, his role lying in the religious ceremonies, while the queen is the military and civil The chief is the queen's first housebond.
The Merikit wear their hair in multiple braids. They have one on the left for each person they have killed, and one right for each child they have. The first time they're braided, left-hand braids are slathered with the blood of the killed.
Merikit spouses are referred to as housebonds and wyves, both older English forms of the words husbands and wives respectively. To have housebonds, a Merikit woman must be a lodge-wyf—she must own a lodge. Lodges are typically passed down mother to daughter. From there, she may have as many housebonds as she can keep happy. Gran Cyd can intervene, however. Men can also take more than one wyf.
↑Seeker's Mask, "Part VIII: Kithorn" — " 'to play the Burnt Man—who, I gather, is always the chief.' "
↑ 2.02.1Bound in Blood, "Chapter XV: Winter's Eve", I — " 'I'm confused,' said Jame. 'Isn't Chingetai the chief of the Merikit?' Prid laughed. 'He's Gran's first housebond,' […] 'D'you mean Chingetai is only chief on his wife's say-so?' […] 'If we go to war, Gran Cyd leads us, the way it's always been, or one of her daughters after her. Or granddaughters.' "
↑Bound in Blood, "Chapter XV: Winter's Eve", I — "At the far end of the room, Gran Cyd of the Merikit sat in judgment. […] The argument before her lay between two housebonds and their wyf."
↑Bound in Blood, "Chapter XV: Winter's Eve", I — " 'What good are any rites if they don't bring the yackcarn to us? You know we're like to starve this winter without them.' "
↑To Ride a Rathorn, "Chapter XII: Unsheathed", II — "use the folds of the land as the Merikit did. […] no one knew for sure how the northern tribesmen could pop up wherever in the Riverland they chose. […] Others remembered the fate of Kithorn and kept watch especially against the autumn cattle raids, but it did little good."
↑Bound in Blood, "Chapter XV: Winter's Eve", III — "Ma presented her with a brimming bowl of Noyat blood, turned dark and gelid. Jame made herself sit still as Gran Cyd braided each left-hand plait, then slathered it with the greasy fluid."
↑ 7.07.1Bound in Blood, "Chapter XV: Winter's Eve", I — "People emerged to stare at her—many women, some men, all wearing brightly colored woolens. Many were also ornately tattooed on the face and hands, which was all the bare flesh she could see until they passed what was clearly a bath lodge. Yes, the older Merikit males were tattooed everywhere a needle could reach, and not shy about showing off their body art."
↑Honor's Paradox, "Lexicon" — "housebond—Merikit term for a husband"
↑ 9.09.1Honor's Paradox, "Lexicon" — "lodge-wyf—a Merikit woman who owns a lodge and therefore can have housebonds"
↑ 10.010.110.2Bound in Blood, "Chapter XV: Winter's Eve", I — " 'How many housebonds do you plan to take?' Prid tossed her tawny mane. 'None. I'm going to be a battle maid and fight and hunt and take whatever lover I choose, not keep house as some dull, old lodge-wyf.' 'Otherwise,' Jame asked, 'how many husbands… I mean housebonds… are you allowed?' 'Oh, as many as Gran Cyd permits and I can keep happy. How many wyves for you, Hatch?' 'Maybe one, if she ever grows up. Otherwise none. If I become a bard or shaman, I can sit by any fire I choose. Only women own property, you know,' "
↑Bound in Blood, "Chapter XV: Winter's Eve", I — " 'We aren't supposed to attend openly until we come of age, except that Father keeps pitching me in.' […] 'Come to think of it, I've never seen any Merikit women there at all.' 'That's because those are men's mysteries.' "