Some describe the Wayuu of the Guajira (Wajirra) as a society where the men do nothing and the women do all the work. From the viewpoint of someone raised in a patriarchal culture, it may seem valid. In truth, these traditionally nomadic people are matrilineal, meaning name, place in society and property pass through the mother. The desert shapes their beliefs, just as the wind shapes the sands: the Wajirra is the land of dreams and death.
Wayuu society is divided into 12 clans, each with its own name, symbol and animal. Not only is this identification passed through the mother, but also the definition of who is Wayuu. In the case of marriages with alijuna (non-Wayuu), the child is only Wayuu if the mother is.