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- Marital arts
The Navajo and the Apache are closely related tribes, descended from a single group that scholars believe migrated from Canada.
The post-pueblo period: a.d. to late s
Since divorce was accepted and the raising of the child was the responsibility of many relatives, not just the biological mother and father, divorce does not appear to have had negative impact on the children. Divorce was neither a civil nor a religious concern - this was a private matter among the people involved. All rights reserved. Among the Comanche, for example, when a man died his wife would become the wife of his brother. Polyandry — the marriage of one woman to more than one man at the same time — was found among many of the tribes.
This article discusses Indian marriage in very broad terms and we realize that there are many exceptions to some of the generalizations. This is one of the things that bothered many of the early Christian missionaries, particularly the Jesuits in New France, as they viewed marriage as a relationship in which the woman subjugated herself to the man.
There was usually no religious ceremony involved, only a public recognition of the fact of marriage. While sex was a part of traditional Native American marriage, marriage was not about sex.
In general, sisters tended to get along better than unrelated co-wives as sisters usually did not fight. Each partner simply picked up his or her personal property and left.
Legal Disclaimer Farmington, New Mexico Source: Ojibwa, October 4, Sex was not confined to marriage. The Pawnee, for example, practiced a form of temporary polyandry.
In most Native American cultures, nearly all adults were married, yet marriage was not seen as permanent. These individuals were seen as being an important part of the community. In Indian cultures, marriage was neither religious nor civil. They viewed gender and sexuality as a continuum.
In American society, part of the discussion about marriage is really about sex. Among many of the tribes, wife exchange was practiced.
Polyandry also occurred as a form of an anticipatory levirate. Among the Pawnee, brothers sometimes shared wives. While there appears to be some who feel that there is only one kind of marriage, in reality there are many options regarding marriage. Polygyny - the marriage of one man to more than one woman at the same time - was fairly common throughout North America.
This practice was often not recognized by Europeans, including many ethnographers, as it seemed alien to them. The Europeans, and particularly the missionaries, had a great deal of difficulty in understanding that women had power in Indian society and that they had the right to sexual freedom.
Traditional Native American cultures tended to be egalitarian: all people were equal. Among some contemporary American commentators, there is a view that there are only two genders: male and female. There was a recognition of the feminine and masculine in all people.
In Indian marriages, men and women were equals. was not property but a member of a large family and thus had rights. Again, the Christian missionaries were shocked by the ease with which Indian couples divorced.
Prior to marriage, young people were expected to engage in sexual activities. For a period of four or five years the young man, and perhaps his brothers as well, would be a junior husband for this woman, creating a temporary state of polyandry.
In most cases, there was no formal ceremony: the couple simply started living together. In some cases, a man would marry sisters — a practice that anthropologists call sororal polygyny.
The debate over marriage in American society and the fears expressed by some conservatives that allowing diversity will somehow destroy the institution of marriage is ever evolving. They were also offended by the idea that divorce could be easily initiated by the woman.
First, however, a caution: at the beginning of the European invasion there were several hundred separate and distinct Indian cultures, each with their own view of marriage. It was recognized that people would be together in a married state for a while and then separate.
Traditional Native American marriage is one of the unique types that is interesting to explore.
Pueblo history and culture faqs
At the same time, many of the European men were delighted by this. Indian societies were not organized on the patriarchal, monogamous norms of European society. If this was agreeable, the two men would exchange wives from time to time. Christian missionaries were deeply shocked and offended by the fact that Indian women were allowed to express their sexuality. Anticipating this practice, a man would allow his brother s to have sexual access to his wife.
He would continue having sex with her until he married. While some American commentators bemoan the negative impact of divorce upon children, in Native cultures each child had many fathers, many mothers, and many siblings. This was seen as symbolic of the brotherhood bond. Among the Lakota Sioux, for example, two men who have pledged devotion to each other may express this relationship by marrying sisters and by exchanging wives on certain occasions.
It was not uncommon for two or more brothers to set up a t household, sharing their wives and their property. There were in traditional societies male and female homosexuals and transvestites who played important spiritual and ceremonial roles.
Divorce was accomplished easily since the couple did not own property in common. One man might become infatuated with the wife of another and propose an exchange.