So what does this have to do with genealogy? First, these cultures attached much more value to genealogy because it had practical value both as a method of preventing intermarriage and as a very powerful method of memory. In some of these cultures, people can give you their genealogy of up to 30 generations back - and not only that - but also the complex lines of intermarriage. Compare this to many people who barely know the names of their grandparents or, like me, do not even know who my nieces / nephews are. And they can do it 30 generations deep and 3-4 lines removed per generation!
But what struck me more was how genealogy in many of these cultures is the core around which they organize all their practical knowledge. Like the memory methods that dad taught me and that I developed further - memory works best when it can be associated in a creative way with things we already know. And that's what genealogy does in many of these cultures. Every node and connection in the genealogy is associated with a story / picture / dance (which itself encodes deeper knowledge) and what is the trigger for a ritual (a ritual is a repeated action that was mostly a way of repeat knowledge so that it is not forgotten). In other words - for these cultures, genealogy is critical to survival. Look at the surface and you only see names of ancestors, look deeper and these names and their connections contain dramas (in the form of stories, pictures, dances, songs) look even deeper and you will find each of these 'drama units' translates at various levels into practical knowledge about plants, animals, seasons, laws, routes, etc etc. It's quite amazing. And then people think these cultures are backward because they can not write! Compared to these methods, writing is terribly poor and primitive.