Two Crows Denies It: A History of Controversy in Omaha Sociology

By R. H. Barnes | Go to book overview

7: Marriage, Residence, and Kinship

Marriage is not just a matter of rules and regulations, at least for the persons directly involved. Various authors have written a good deal about Omaha courtship and domestic life, and we can now turn from abstractions to a summary review of these more day-to- day questions. Fletcher and La Flesche ( 1911, 318-27) provide a description of Omaha courtship that includes several courting songs, and Dorsey covers the same ground ( 1884, 259-60). Young men and women were not permitted to visit in their homes. Omaha customs favored chastity, and the Omahas were so strict that a young girl or married woman who went walking or riding alone was liable to be regarded as a prostitute. No woman would ride or walk with any man other than her husband; generally women traveled in the company of other women. Young men were not permitted to speak to girls they met on the road unless they were kin ( Dorsey 1884, 365). The opportunities for young men and women to become acquainted were limited to tribal gatherings or the confusion attendant on breaking camp. Streams and springs provided opportunities for brief exchanges, and men attempted to attract the attention of girls by means of songs, signals, and intermediaries. It is nevertheless plain from some of Dorsey's remarks that girls did find occasion to steal away and be alone with boys, and in any case cohabitation even of short duration was sufficient to establish a marriage.

In his account of Omaha customs, which was used by James, the Indian agent Dougherty wrote that many Omaha girls were be-

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Two Crows Denies It: A History of Controversy in Omaha Sociology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Plates ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: Chieftainship 29
  • 2: the Tribal Circle 50
  • 3: Descent Groups 68
  • 4: Personal Names 104
  • 5: Relationship Terminology 124
  • 6: Terminology and Marriage 155
  • 7: Marriage, Residence, and Kinship 176
  • 8: the Pattern of Marriage 186
  • 9: "Omaha Alliance" 194
  • 10: Dispersed Alliance 218
  • Ii: Conclusion 228
  • Notes 236
  • Bibliography 243
  • Subject Index 257
  • Name Index 266
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