Chippewa Child Life and Its Cultural Background

Chippewa Child Life and Its Cultural Background

Chippewa Child Life and Its Cultural Background

Chippewa Child Life and Its Cultural Background

Excerpt

The purpose of this study is to record the customs and beliefs of the primitive Chippewa Indians of the United States as evidenced in the development and training of the child. Childhood among the primitive Chippewa began with birth and ended with puberty. It was divided into two periods. The period from birth to the event of walking was called dȧkābī'nâȧswȧn; the period from the event of walking to puberty, ábānōd'jī. From the event of walking to puberty, a boy was called kwīwī'sēns; a girl, ekwē'sēns. A child's age was not counted by years. Before it reached the dawn of reason, it might be described as having been "just old enough to remember," or "before it had any sense." Children between the age of reason and puberty were designated as having been "so high"--a gesture of the hand indicating the height.

From puberty to the birth of his first grandchild a man was called kwīwīsēns'sōk; a woman, ekwē'wēk. From the birth of his first grandchild to the birth of his first great-grandchild a man was called nimicō'mis; a woman, nōkōmis.

No monograph dealing with Chippewa child life is now available. Frances Densmore (1929) Chippewa Customs, for which information was collected on the White Earth, Red Lake, Cass Lake, Leech Lake, and Mille Lacs Reservations in Minnesota, the Lac Courte Orielle Reservation in Wisconsin, and the Manitou Rapids Reserve in Ontario, Canada, contains some excellent material on child training and development. So does Diamond Jenness' (1935) study of the Ojibwa of Parry Island found in The Ojibwa Indians of Parry Island, Their Social and Religious Life. The findings of the present study are largely in agreement with those of Densmore and of Jenness regarding child life. The writer has noted considerable difference, however, between her findings and those of Ruth Landes (1938 b), whose research was done among the Ojibwa of western Ontario and is recorded in The Ojibway Woman. All other sources that have come to the writer's notice (listed in the bibliography) contain only scattered and scanty information on the child.

The first eight sections of this work are concerned largely with phases in the development and the treatment of the child; the last nine sections, with the milieu in which the child was reared. Since rather complete information on the cultural background of the child is already available in the literature (see bibliography), it was covered in . . .

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