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

By R. H. Barnes | Go to book overview

8: The Pattern of Marriage

The place of moieties in determining marriage choices in Siouan tribes has continually given rise to doubt. La Flesche ( 1921, 51) wrote that the Osages required men of one division to take wives only from the women of the opposite division and that this rule was strictly and religiously observed until the tribe had been reduced by disease and other causes and disturbed by white influences. By the 1950s Nett ( 1952, 181) could find no evidence of exogamous moieties. Howard ( 1965, 87) received no confirmation of Dorsey attribution ( 1897, 228) of moieties to the Poncas. Radin wrote ( 1923, 183) that the moieties of the Winnebagos regulated nothing but marriage. If the sample of marriages he adduces (p. 199) is representative, they did at least do that. The Crows lack moieties ( Lowie 1912, 207). Hidatsa moieties, by explicit Hidatsa report, had no marriage-regulating function ( Lowie 1917b, 2), and half the marriages in Lowie's record were within the same moiety ( 1917b, 25-26). In Bowers sample ( 1965, 69) more than half of Hidatsa marriages were into the same moiety; and though the Mandans claim their moieties were exogamous before the devastating small- pox epidemics, Bowers found that, of fifty Mandan marriages, nineteen were on the same side.

Evidence for the theory of an ancient exogamous dual organization among Siouan peoples ( Goldenweiser 1913b, 286-87; Lesser 1929, 717) is therefore thin at best. Fletcher and La Flesche ( 1911, 135) write that the old men of the Omaha tribe preserved a tradition that their moiety division was for marital purposes. They further

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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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