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Flying Bird Image

When Everybody Called Me Gah-bay-bi-nayss,
An Ethnographic Biography of
Paul Peter Buffalo

Timothy G. Roufs
University of Minnesota Duluth

a note on tenses
  a note on style

orignal tapes information

Table of Contents

"This project has been financed in part with funds provided by the State of Minnesota from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota Historical Society."

"This publication was made  possible in  part by the  people of  Minnesota  through  a grant funded by an appropriation  to  the  Minnesota  Historical Society  from the  Minnesota  Arts and Cultural  Heritage  Fund. Any views,  findings,  opinions,  conclusions  or recommendations expressed in this publication  are those  of  the authors  and  do not necessarily represent those of the State of  Minnesota, the  Minnesota  Historical Society, or the  Minnesota  Historic Resources Advisory Committee."


Buffalo Image

25 24

Courtship, Marriage,
and Living
in with the In-Laws

The young people always liked the feasts.(1) That's where the young men met the young women. They liked hearing the songs there. They really liked hearing the love calls.

In the old days we travelled by canoes, going from one camp to another in groups, family groups.(2) There were always family relationships in groups. Sometimes the different groups would camp together. Sometimes they would have fifty camping(3) together. Sometimes there were a hundred in camps.(4) Sometimes each group camped by itself.

Chippewa woman and girls in birchbark canoe, Red Lake.

Chippewa woman and girls in birchbark canoe, Red Lake.
Photograph Collection, 1898
  Collections Online
  Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. E97.35 r61 Negative No. 57076

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Chippewa women in canoe on Rainy Lake.

Chippewa women in canoe on Rainy Lake.
Photograph Collection, 1914
  Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. E97.35 r51 Negative No. 38028


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Indian woman and child in canoe on Red Lake.

Indian woman and child in canoe on Red Lake.
Creator: E. B. Johnson
Photograph Collection, 1899
  Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. E97.35 p8 Negative No. 17510

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Ojibway family in canoe, Vermilion Lake.

Ojibway family in canoe, Vermilion Lake.
[Bois Forte Band of Chippewa]
Photograph Collection, 1905
  Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. E97.35 p1 Negative No. 21986


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Indian family in birch bark canoe, Lake of the Woods.

Indian family in birch bark canoe, Lake of the Woods.
Creator: Carl Gustaf Linde
Photograph Collection, 1911
  Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. E97.35 r85 Negative No.
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Canoe scene, south shore of Mille Lacs Lake.

Canoe scene, south shore of Mille Lacs Lake.
Creator: John A. Jansen
Photograph Collection, 1919
  Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. E97.35 r7 Negative No. 83071

The chief went up to his camping ground.(5) He had ten or fifteen of his family there. His son-in-law, in-laws and all that,(6) were camping there. Maybe there were more.

When the chief was up at his camping ground other canoes kept right on a-going. But probably some of his own relation camping with the chief here wanted to travel with the ones going by. So, they'd join them. They had to join.


Because in this camp there was a young man who liked one of the journeyboat's girls, or women; they had, a lady.

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Everywind, Indian maiden.

Everywind, Indian maiden.
Photograph Collection, Postcard, 1930
  Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. E97.1E r6 Negative No. 35795

The young man and the journeyboat's girl talked it over earlier, while they were having powwow. Or at a feast. There's always a way of sitting together with a woman at a powwow, or at a feast, or even when groups are just camped together.

And this lady said, "You look to me that you're a great man. But I have to go with my folks, the chief. We're going up river."

The one here that's camped would say, "I'll go along and help."

He'd ask the girl, "Where is your life?"

She'd tell him, and he'd say, "Let's go."

So they get interested in one another. And they discussed things. They discussed many things. Like they would say, "Someday our camping grounds may become a big city, a big city of the village of the Indian."(7)

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Chippewa costumes.

Chippewa costumes.
Photograph Collection, 1930
  Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. E97.22 p1 Negative No. 68237

And finally they engaged -- when they get through discussing.

They had plenty to eat. It was there for them.

Maybe the girl, in this other camp, following that journey of her family, passed by the visitor she talked with earlier.

And when that girl passed by his camp the young man told his folks, "I go."

So that's the way it builds up and keeps spreading, children after children. That's the way Indians spread. It's love. It's personal. It's a discussion. It's expression from one another. It's exchanging views, looking for life, looking for a betterment. That's what they were looking for, a betterment. They didn't travel just to live. They travelled to look for a betterment with others. They looked for a betterment in life; they look to live with others in life.

In the olden days they always figured the woman had to be well-matured, past eighteen, anyhow, to have a good marriage. It was good if she was eighteen to twenty -- not too old, but she has to be in prime.

Same with the man. He has to be capable. He has to be full-grown. They didn't drink in those days. They were hustlers -- able, neat; and they were a man -- solid, healthy.

They figure that for health. If they get married too young, there'll be a run-down because there's no foundation. There'll be a little weakness in the long-run. They figure that if they are well-matured then they are capable. That helps to get perfect children. What I mean by perfect children is well-built and well-matured. A good couple has good children. And they're smart, intelligent -- very, very intelligent.

He picks out the girl who will stay home more. The old folks will tell their girl,

"You don't have to run around and look for a man. A good man generally wants a good woman.(8) They pick out a good woman who stays home and does their work, housework. They want a woman who stays home more and does a lot of work. They want a woman that can cook, sew, and do beadwork. They want one that's a good worker too. The man knows when a woman's a good worker and they always try to pick that girl."

A good man, if he thinks he's good enough for her, if he thinks he can take care of her, tries at her. But he has to prove himself. Just like Gwashun.(9) The man trying for the girl has to prove he's good, too. He has to be a good worker.

When both are a good worker they think they're well-matched. But if one doesn't work, there's always someone else who knocks on the marriage. One can't compete to be a man's wife or a wife's husband if they're not a good worker.

They always size it up.

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Young Indian women, Lake of the Woods.

Young Indian women, Lake of the Woods.
Creator: Carl Gustaf Linde
Photograph Collection, 1912
  Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. E97.1 r193 Negative No. 55830

He would want to marry a good woman, so when he has a good woman sized up he tells his folks, "I'd like to have her."

The man will tell his folks, and his folks will go tell her folks. They'll tell her folks what he wants, and they'll talk. They'll discuss that. They'll either contact the girl's father, or her brother. Sometimes the brother of the girl gets contacted with a message for her. They can contact any brother, it doesn't have to be a younger or a older brother. They contact any brother and send the message with him.

Or, if the man that's trying for her is brave enough, he'll go to her mother, and her mother will tell their dad. Maybe he'll go to the dad or uncle. He can go to any relatives.

I saw one that asked an uncle.(10) When he asks the uncle, the uncle takes the message. That's the way they contact one another. . . . It could be the father's brother or mother's brother. The young man can go to both. Anyway, it's his niece.(11) Then the uncle would tell her folks.

Then, if it's okay, the man trying for the girl has to show that he'll be good. He has to show that he's willing to provide, and provide for more if they had a family. He has to be able. And the man has to show that he can work. He won't let her cut wood alone. And he won't let her do any heavy work.

But if she's willing to work, she goes along with a crowd of women to cut wood and do other work. Women like to work together; they don't like to work by themselves. She's supposed to be out in the woods with them. And she's supposed to be a housekeeper.

He'll show that he loves her. And he'll give her something that she could wear. That shows that he really likes her.

That's the way they contacted one another.

And before the marriage either he or the old folks goes and discusses that with the menfolk of both groups. The man invites both fathers to come and sit together. He sends the invitation by scout.(12)

And then he says, "I want her. And I want her to be with me in this life, to take care of me when I'm sick. And I can take care of her when she's sick. And we'll live this life together." That's what they're telling to the two fathers.

He says he'd like to have her. Her father or the mother say, well, that he has to show that he can provide.

And he'll show them. He'll probably go out in the woods. I've seen them in my time, go out in the woods and get a deer like nothing. He'll come back and drop a deer before the wigwam of the girl. Something will hit the ground all round there -- ducks, deer, wood, or anything. Maybe, if they want wood, he'll go drop a load of wood. The man has to show that he can pile the wood right in front of the door. These old people are old, but they have a good daughter. The mother of the woman opens the door, and there's wood, or a deer, or whatever, laying left for dead. Then he'll go home.

They see him going home.

Or, he would give them the meat. He can bring in a whole deer, and drop it at the door. He tells the girl, "There you are. There's my work."

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Indian hunter with deer.

Indian hunter with deer.
Creator: Roland W. Reed
Photograph Collection, 1908
Minnesota Historial Society
Location No. E97.32F h2 Negative No. 73577

And she'll go out there and sharpen her knife, and she'll start in cutting it up alone, but then the other women of her group will come in and help. Even the old grandma, even the mother, will try and help.

xxx Sometimes he gave her folks food. He'll bring food and unload, oh, probably, say, a couple arms' full, or pack-sacks full, of food and gifts. Later on, we used to carry food -- and groceries from the store -- in a pack-sack or a gunny sack. In earlier years we used a gunny sack. We used gunny sacks lots. He would bring the food into their house and set it down.

Besides food and wood he'd give them tobacco, calico, a canoe, a gun, snowshoes, and things like that. Most generally he would give her folks presents. Almost always the man gave the girl's folks presents. That shows appreciation. They would give blankets, rugs, or anything -- like guns, canoes, any thing. Later on, he'd generally give cloth to the old lady. He'd also generally give them a blanket or something.

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Mrs. John Franks and rabbit robe, White Earth Reservation, 1942

Mrs. John Franks and rabbit robe, White Earth Reservation.
Creator: Monroe P. Killy
Photograph Collection, 1942
  Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. E97.34 p23 Negative No. 35428

xxx duplicate

He can give her folks presents at any time. At any time he gives them presents, even after they get married. He thinks a lot of his father- and mother-in-law. He sees the condition they live in. He will go by their place once every so often and give them something, maybe even a canoe. He will go by, and if the old man's young enough to hunt -- if the old man can see enough to hunt -- he'll go buy a gun, a little .30-30,(13) and give him a gun. He calls him náy-zay-nI'ss, "my father-in-law."

At the time they get married the man gives the in-laws the blankets and rugs. That's donated to him by his own relations.(14) This is for the father and mother. It's for the father and mother of the bride. And they're beautiful. And these new blankets are used for the girl's parents' spread, bedspread. The young men give in-laws blankets. But if the in-laws have too many blankets, they donate to the young couple -- then the man hunts to beat hell!

While he's hunting, he's hunting for her folks too. When he gets something, the girl shows her dad: "This is what I got for my mother. This is what I got for my folks. They're yours." It's just to help out. The old folks got a lot of stuff that way all the time.

The old lady(15) was working all the time too. She knew the girl was going to get married. She knew the boy was going to get married. So they always had something to give them too, like hide rugs and things, more or less as wedding gifts.

The young man has to show that he can provide. To show this he'll go get some meat and put it in front of the girl's wigwam. When he does this, eventually she'll come out and say, "Everything's OK." And after awhile they'll marry, nine days after.

She has to go in the tipi(16) for nine days. They respect that tipi. They respect that tipi, that "self-house," and go there to get purified, to get of age. They go there too to get ready to get married. They purify by waiting again nine days. That also gives the others a chance to hear the news coming, "They're going to get married. A big dinner will be served."


That was the legal way boy!

"Well, if it's OK with you," he tells her, "it's OK with my father and mother, and it's OK with yours. I'll pick up my bow and arrow and blanket." So he picks up whatever he has and tells her mother that he's moving in, and he moves in with them. He moves in there with the girl.(17)

If they want to get married, the young man has to come to her wigwam or tipi, and they'll have a ceremonial opening with a feast. He'll give a feast to one another. At the feast they have blueberries, wild plums, and everything they can get a hold of. At the dinner the father of the woman will announce, "I let my daughter go to this man."

There's a different style in the wedding feast. They don't dance after the wedding. They sit around and talk about what they should be doing in the future. The man will tell his new wife that he will have a wigwam or tipi or cabin built for the winter, even if he has to build it himself.

A month or so after the man moved in with his in-laws they had a special picnic. I mean they drew the relatives and all of the others from nearby camps in for a wedding dinner. They called them all in for a "heavy discussion." At the gathering the father and the mother talk: "Bless the marriage. I hope it's going to be blessed. I hope they raise a good family. I hope they get along good. I hope they'll work together good. I hope the Great shall take care of them with food."

That sermon is called wii$-ko-máy wii$-ko-dI'n. You know what? wii$-ko-máy, wii$-ko-máy, gI-wi$-kó-mI-mI-mI'm wi$-^$-kodI'n . . . wii$-ko-dI'n, wii$-ko-dI'n, is something they're going to discuss very heavy to the others, to the relatives. Yea, wii-ko-may wii-ko-dIm means "something they're going to discuss very heavy."

It's not legal until the sermon is over. Then the old man, the old man,(18) says, "I bless."

. . . And then, when that's approved, they both get a handhold, a handshake, from the people who came to the feast. The onlookers OK it, then they hold their hand.


Didn't they do it in a big way?

That's the way they married.

So they have, they would have, a sermon, or a service, or some kind of marriage ceremony. They would have a special dinner, and give presents, like hide rugs. They generally would get a lecture. When they got the lecture by the old people, that was the act of coming into married life. That was their way. After the lecture, the four(19) would set together in the same wigwam.

I've seen that in my time happen. The last time I saw that was about 1918.

Maybe the boy's folks would discuss that with their son too. Maybe his folks would give their son a lecture too. And he'll go over there to his folks and set with father and mother, with his father and mother. His father and mother will give a lecture on how to live.

His father says, "Don't abuse one another. Don't be mean to one another, but live together. You love her. If you love her, you have to work hard for her."

The mother tells her son, "You think she's a good woman. You wanted that woman, you have her now. You have to be good to her, and love her all the times, and work for her."

In that way pretty soon the marriage is completed. That's the old way. And when they're talking to them like that the boy respects his father and mother. That's the way the marriage is approved by her mother and his father. They respect that marriage. That's the way it went. Well, they went through an awful lot. In that way it's legal.

That's really the old style of what they had years ago. They didn't go to the judge, or have any priest bless their marriage! The chief and the father and the mother just talked to the young couple before a big supper of fried bread, dried meat, berries like raisins, and rice, and maple sugar, and everything. They thanked the Great(20) for the food for these children.

They would most generally get married in the spring, when it's mild.(21)

And after the marriage feast is all over with, and after they've been together a little while, then maybe they give a powwow for the rest of the camper Indians. Later on, when it's warm enough, then they give a good powwow. In cold weather there would be nobody at the powwow. They'd freeze.

Most generally the couple will be living together before they give the powwow. They didn't do business like they do now. Now they get married one day and the next day they're divorced, or there's a separation. Those days they stuck together pretty good. And when it was time, and the weather was right, they had a powwow celebrating the marriage with their relations and neighborly Indians.

If it's cold, with damp ground, damp ground, they may not have that powwow for awhile. We're talking spring now. When there's damp ground we didn't powwow so much. And after it warms up the sugarbush is coming, and there's other work. The sugar-making's coming and they don't have time for a celebration.(22) But after the sugar-making, when everything's all done, they may have that celebration, that marriage powwow. Then the blueberries are coming, and the re-seeding of potatoes and corn is coming.(23) So, they take time, and break a ground, and go about their work. When it's warm and their work is done, they'll have the powwow.

Before that powwow, the father and mother of the woman sent out an invitation(24) for the feast. The father of the woman says, "You're all invited, neighbors."

"We'll all come then."

Oh Gee!

As the children go along in the world they'll see a lot of this. Sooner or later they may have children. These children will get the taste of the berries and food as they're coming along on this earth. Their father and mother, and grandfather and grandmother, will tell them, "We're leaving the word to you, so remember those words."

And don't fool around,(25) because it's very dangerous to fool around." W^^h$! Something might happen to them if they fool around. They might lose one another. So, generally they don't fool a round. You aren't supposed to go and live with any, any, woman. And you aren't supposed to bother somebody else's woman. That's dangerous.

If you fool around you may get his brothers mad, you may get her brothers mad. And they'd get mad if you abuse her. He might even come and do away with you because he defends his sister. Or maybe you might not use your wife's brother right. If you do that, his sister might end up defending her brother -- that's the relation of Indians.(26)

They were rough those days if you didn't do right. "Respect one another." They use that message in medicine too. "Be careful, respectful. Always behave yourself. Always don't have trouble. To right yourself, work. If they come visit, feed 'em." That's what my brother-in-law says. That's the way to live.

By gosh that was good.

You have to thank God, thank the Great Spirit, for the two which you're pairing up. But if one side is too heavy hearted and is not good, she's got an ailment.(27)

The young couple didn't live with her parents very long. Some of them live there as far as two, three months, a season maybe, to help them prepare for the fall. At first they live with the woman's parents. After that, it makes no difference which in-laws they go to, as long as they have room. But the man is supposed to stay at her folks a few days, promising that he will try to get a place. "I want to leave my wife or kids here with you. We'll stay with you, but then I'll put up my wigwam, or shack, or anything I can build."

Then the new couple get their own wigwam prepared for the fall. When he goes to build it, some of her relation will come and help him build it. They donate a few hours or something. They'll all pitch together. This is a family affair. It's done in a family. Things are handled in the family, and the rest of them, the rest of the community, just doesn't pay any attention to it.

So in a few days the menfolks all pitch in and help. In a little while they have everything built. And if they were building a little log cabin, like they did in later years, they didn't take all day -- by driving spikes and everything -- they fitted those logs.(28) They fitted the poles. All they do is just cut the ends. They notch it. They fit everything, just locked tight. They put the heavy timber on top. That's to keep the logs tight and locked and sealed, so the roofing don't leak.

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Chippewa wigwams and log home.

Chippewa wigwams and log home.
Photograph Collection, 1895
  Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. E97.31 p82 Negative No. 310-B

Some lived so close they can contact one another in any emergency. They protect the old people. If the old man is ill or old, they don't like to leave. They won't leave. If they do leave, they'll tell the old folks that they'll be back. So they don't just completely disregard the old people. They always respect the old people.

But anyhow, their contract to one another is good anytime there might be emergencies. The woman or the man, or both, are there to help the old people, because they're younger. Because they're younger, they're able to provide for their folks when they're old or when they're not able to get along by themself.

If they're mature enough for a good family, if they're happy, it probably helps to have a large family. They're happy if they do.

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Indian baby in canoe at Rainy Lake.

Indian baby in canoe at Rainy Lake.
Photograph Collection, 1914
  Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location no. E97.33 r10 Negative no. 70309

And if they have nii-zjo-dé, twins, that's lucky! They generally stay lucky, but if one loses, both of them lose. If one wins for good luck, they both win. And they pair. They're dressed alike. They're mates!! They can not drift apart. They're mates, so they have the same feeling. They're the same life, in one. That's the way we believe. Twins are respected more, and they have more strength in life than one. There's two lives in there.

Funny, heh? Well, it isn't funny, but it's something wonderful to think of. There's a difference in living, with twins. Twins in one is a great gift to people, to that individual, to the field(29) the whole area. They're a gift to think of, and to wonder about. You start to wonder when you see twins. That's a big thing, huh? A big thing is twins -- two. You stop and pause, to look, and wonder. You wonder. That shows you the Master who can do the great things. Naturally it would make you wonder. You go along and see things naturally, but when you see a big change like that, you wonder what can be done.

Because the woman has the form(30) of raising a family, she's the one that's going to suffer having children. And while she's suffering and trying to bring up her children, the man is capable of handling the necessary provision(31) with the children. That's a happy marriage.

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Woman and children seated in front of Chippewa Indian wigwam.

Woman and children seated in front of Chippewa Indian wigwam.
Photograph Collection, 1875
  Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. E97.31 r43 Negative No. 34359


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Women and children seated by camp fire in Chippewa village, Itasca State Park.

Women and children seated by camp fire in Chippewa village,
Itasca State Park.
Photograph Collection, 1926
  Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location no. E97.32 p6

They call a large family a happy family because they're sticking together. I think it's all right to have as many children as you want, because that's a privilege. That's their privilege. That's why they get married. They get married to have a happy home. They're not happy until their children come out and show themselves that they made very well by their father and mother.

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Chippewa woman and child in cradleboard.

Chippewa woman and child in cradleboard.
Creator: Truman W. Ingersoll
Photograph Collection, Carte-de-visite, 1885
  Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. E97.33 r25 Negative No. 1982

Them kids have learned more from father and mother. And when she tried to make them mind, you're also trying to make them mind. That's OK. But let them do what you say, and see that they do it, so they'll know you mean it. The mother doesn't have to jump in and protect them, just like she was throwing her wing out above them to say, "Leave them alone. Don't say a word." I see that happen a lot of times.

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Chippewa Indian woman and child in front of wigwam, White Earth.

Chippewa Indian woman and child in front of wigwam, White Earth.
Photographer: Hoard & Tenney
Photograph Collection, Stereograph, 1870
  Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location no. E97.31 r75 Negative no. 34358

But how far can they go? But you have to get through to them until they are old enough to take care of themselves to understand. They should be over eighteen anyhow. By then you build a bottom -- a foundation -- for them, for their life, that's correct. They get to be men, they have their own family, they have a good schooling, and they come back to the old folks. It's a good re-memory.

Most generally the boy and girl come from different groups, from different villages.(32) If they have any attachment or relation, they don't allow them to marry. If they are cousins, they can't marry.(33) They don't want any cousins in a marriage. They follow the relationship back, way back. They follow that way back. The Indians said they don't allow marriage where there is any relation, attachment, or contact. They say, "No!"

We go way back on that.

Even fourth cousins can't marry -- unless they don't care!(34) If there's any attachment of relation, they don't get married, because if they would, that defects them.(35) That drop of blood does that; it just takes one drop to do that.

How do they know that?

Gee, boy they were neat!

If you're related, if they're your relation, you don't get married. We follow that way back. If the old man knows you're thinking about a relation, BOY!!!!!(36)

In the olden days that's the way it was, but now, with the influence of liquor and everything, they fell so far and they get careless. They forget all these positions.(37)

But in the old days they respect that relationship.(38) I don't care how far back they go. They can go back six or seven generations of relations and still touch with great grand folks. Cousins touch one another that far.

You can not marry the daughter of your father's brother's. No. There can be no contact at all with your relations. No attachment at all. You have to be a perfect line. That's why you can't marry your grandfather's brother's daughter, on your father's side.

The same holds for the other side.

I'm talking about the Indians, and what they would think. I'm talking about the Indians.(39) They respect themselves. They respect themselves. That's the way they lived years ago. If there was an attachment in relation, it's you that were out of luck with that woman because you were related to that woman. If you'd marry your relation,(40) the others in the tribe would say, "Why think how crazy he is.(41) He even went and married relation! That's just like an animal. Dogs'll do that.(42) There's no sense in that. An animal'll do that."

I don't think we're animals.

"No," they'd say, "you can't marry. You're related."

That was clean.

They'll ask you, "Where'd you get that information? That's sharp isn't it?"

It's so nice to talk about those things. It "perps" me up to talk about the old history, and it's a wonderful thing to think about these old times. They studied these things to themselves. They repeated those things to one another, and to the younger class in lectures.

I said to my mother when I was a young fellow, "I think I'll go to Wisconsin. . . . Yeah, I think I'll go to Wisconsin."

And she said, "Son, you have a lot of relations in Wisconsin. Naturally, because the Buffalo-Head chief was your great-grandfather.(43) He has a lot of children scattered out; they're scattered out the same as you are up here. You're scattered from Buffalo and your relatives. Now, when you go back to the reservation in Wisconsin you want to be careful," she used to say. "When you get acquainted with a woman, make sure that you have no blood relation of any kind from your grandfather. Don't marry any relation, or anyone with attachments to you, because it is a great mistake. It will bother others if you marry relations."

In the present times, they marry too quick. They don't examine if there's any attached relations in marriages.

"You want to be careful," she used to say.

Like everybody else in those old times, they were careful about marriages. They were careful about marriages and their relations. They respect the relations. They respect that very much in the olden days. I know they did because they discussed that amongst themselves. Even now we still carry that belief in this area. I have lots of people that are right here in my town that I'm related to. I'm related to them.

Some party says to me, "Why aren't you married now, Paul?(44) You should have a woman."

"I know I should have a woman."

And then they announce that there's some girl here in town. They say her name. "Why don't you marry her?"

"Oooh!!! . . . I can't!!! . . ."


"I'm related to her. I'm related to her!"

"How do you know?"

"My mother told me. She knows that from way back."

"How far back?"

"I wouldn't know how far back, but my mother knew, and she repeated that over and over. She had contact with her relations, with her dad and all that. I have lot of relation in Wisconsin, but this woman you're talking about is related to me on the mother's side. We're related to all of the generation. They're following their kids and children and so on. . . . We're cousins."

Well, then I go to someone like Mrs. Sherman up there. She always greets me. She's a nice woman. She always calls me "cousin."(45) "Cousin" is just like "brother" in Indian. In-dah-way-Im means just like "brother."(46) It means, "You're related to me."

But even Mrs. Sherman tells me, "You don't have a wife."

The group was so small years ago that I have to be related to practically all these Indians around here in the surrounding area. So we follow that. We're very careful of that. I am very careful of that -- at my age anyhow -- because I was trained that way. I'm related to many people very very close. I was always careful. I respect my relation and the relationship blocks my marriages out. The relationship runs yet, to any of them. I'll name any of them and you ask, "Are you supposed to be related to Paul?"


And they'll tell you, "A-way back," and they repeat that. "His mother was my mother's sister and my mother's sister was . . . ," and so on like that. It'll go a long ways. And they respect that relationship because they don't want to get contact with any relation(47) in marriage. It's just like that. It wouldn't look right if we married a relation. We all respect that years ago.

All the Indians most generally respected that relationship and followed the Indian way of life. That would hold you in firm by not living like animals. If you didn't care about the relation-ship, it don't look right. If you neglect relation-ships, pretty soon they would be marrying their cousin, first cousin, and pretty soon they would be marrying their own sisters.(48)

They would never let a drop of blood of their own relations in a marriage if they could help it. Just think how clean and neat they were! That's a pretty, pretty wise student.(49)

We respect that dodaim(50) too. A dodaim is a cousin, brother, sister, or long-range relative.(51) That dodaim means a person would be like your "cousin-way-back."(52) It would carry the same degree of blood that you have, as I understand it. That same degree of blood is just like your relation.

I said to the older class, "Well, I think I'll get her."

"Oh no!" they said, "that's your dodaim! She has the same type of blood that you carry. She had the same degree, the same degree of blood too. She has the same degree of blood because the two is the same dodaim and that's brotherly."(53) That's what the dodaim is used for.

My dodaim is máahñg, the loon. Loon is figured to have a little mixed blood with the whites. I have a little quarter breed in me.(54) A loon is the dodaim of a quarter breed. A loon would signify a quarter breed.

There's also the eagle, American eagle, for the quarterbred. Then there's the bullhead relation; that's another heavier degree on the Indian side. The bullhead is a full-blood, and so is the bear.

I don't know how they have that figured out, but it's read up anyhow.(55) xxx It's written up to the Indian. Those dodaim are something again. They don't have dodaims just for nothing. They respect that. Years ago in the olden community if a guy wanted to fall in love with a woman or a girl, if he wanted to fall for her and started kidding her, the old people's said, "Oh, be careful. That's your dodaim of the same degree. She has the same blood. Don't go too far." Oh, they watched that! It is hard to understand. You could ask questions and you could repeat it, but it's hard to understand.

I was already in school(56) when I knew about dodaims, and I noticed that we never read that up in school. In school they don't go for that dodaim. I think in school you can even marry your second cousin! The whites restricted marriage to first cousins.(57) The Indian never did believe in that. We don't believe in marriage that close. We don't believe in acting like that. We believe in holding the relationship as far back as we can. We don't want a drop of blood to mix with a marriage. It doesn't work right. There'll be defect if it mixes. It will defect the group.(58) They figure that the clear dope, without relationship, makes the best marriages. They figure that's the best mixture for married life. xxx

Your dodaim is marked on a birch bark drawing.(59) A big piece of birch bark is rolled up, telling you who's your relation. My dodaim is the loon. And I'm related to somebody close to the loon, like other birds, like the eagle. Birds, like the loon and the eagle, have certain degrees of relation. And they considered marriages between dodaim birds, like the loon and the thunderbird, to be of the first file. But if your totem is on the ground, with claws like a bear climbing the tree, then you are related to people who have dodaims which are also on the ground. But if your dodaim lives in water, like the bullheads, that is a different breed of blood again. The bullhead and the bear are in water and on ground, so they're a different relation yet. They're different files. Some Indians put that on totem poles.(60) In the old days we generally wrote our dodaims on birch bark. By reading that birch bark writing, that's where you learn.

I learnt this from a group of Indians, old Indians, who talked about dodaim. And when they talked about dodaim, they talked about the degrees of blood, like cousins -- first, second, third cousins. And that dodaim is something they respect.

And I used to hear them say, "Oh, he married a dodaim! This guy married his dodaim!!" When they heard about it from the news which comes in to the family, they'd say, "Ohhh!!, that's his totem, dodaim!" They thought that was a marriage of the same degree. They thought they were living like animals.

Sometimes two brothers would marry two sisters. That works out all right. That way more relatives live together, and the cooperation is there. You could feel more like a group, or of the same type of blood. Normally, most generally, that works out as a real good marriage. They're not what you call lonesome from the folks. If the wife or the brothers decide to move, they'll move together. They'll invite one another to move along. That way maybe things will go better and they work harder. They feel that they're not alone. They are trying to get a good pair, a good set-up.

But actually that did not happen too much. In my times, I saw only a couple cases like that.

It think that the way we married and lived in the old days worked out all right, at least until a break-off on one side or another. A break-off in a marriage wrecks the whole deal, you might say. Sometimes it doesn't work out, and the folks separate. That happened. That happened in the past. It wasn't very regular, but it happened. Maybe there was some cause. Jealousy or something might cause a breakup. But it didn't often happen. In the old days they stood with their husbands or wifes. They were pretty good at it. Some of them lived together sixty-five years, seventy years -- and raised a family besides.

But sometimes there's trouble with the blood relation in the marriage.(61) Sometimes he doesn't get along with her folks. Sometimes the outsiders to the family make trouble for that couple that's married. Well, that happens with some of them. And what I've seen happen in the past is that they just separate. There's just a separation.

But building up to that separation the man just goes along and never complains to anyone about her, and she never complains about him. You let her know though, that you're not satisfied. You let her know that you want to go along, still looking for somebody that you will be satisfied with. And you let her know once in awhile what you're up to. And you tell her why. You tell her what the drawback is.

The first time you tell her, you want to tell her way ahead of time, and maybe she'll try to better herself. But if she can't better herself, if some of her ways are still bothering you, you express why. That's your own private affair. That's your own private discussion in marriage. You don't, you generally don't, announce your complaints to anybody. Well then, maybe she'll see your point, and if there's any reason, a reason that's good to her, she will most generally agree with you.

She won't be satisfied until you're satisfied. And you won't be satisfied until she's satisfied. The one that's satisfied most generally thinks, "Well, he doesn't care for me. There's no love in that anymore." She's sure there's no love in it. She loves you, but you don't love her. You have to be two in love to make it true love. Then the man just walks off.


If some sickness or some ailment that they are carrying keeps them thinking about the break-up, and this puts pressure on them.(62) It puts pressure on them, and, most likely, they'll be thinking about it and trying to help themselves by Indian doctoring.(63) If it doesn't clear up, the ailment doesn't clear up, and they finally find themselves face down.


You give her the same privileges. If she is not happy, you give her the same privilege. And if she will agree with you by this custom, and you just take off for separation; the man just walks off.

She won't be satisfied until you're satisfied. And you won't be satisfied until she's satisfied. The one that's satisfied most generally thinks, "Well, he doesn't care for me. There's no love in that anymore." She's sure there's no love in it. She loves you, but you don't love her. You have to be two in love to make it true love. Then the man just walks off.

Some sickness or some ailment that they are carrying keeps them thinking about the break-up, and this puts pressure on them.(62) It puts pressure on them, and, most likely, they'll be thinking about it and trying to help themself by doctoring.(63) It doesn't clear up, the ailment doesn't clear up, and finally they find themselves face down. That was hard on the young children to see their father and mother bust up. The young children take on a hardship with the loss of folks, and with watching what is happening to their mother and father. It hurts them to see their mother face down, their father face down. And then, by destroying her, by destroying him, there's confusion about their father and mother, and that slows the children down when they are trying to learn. But still, the children start to carry along as much as they can. As much as they can, they carry along. They get over that finally, somehow, if it breaks up, but it takes a long time. It all works out. But they still do remember.

When a couple gets separated like that, if they have a good personal,(64) the people will say, "Well, that's too bad." They always were in hopes that these two would get along. They were sorry to see that separation, and that's about all they could say. But then, again, on the other side of it, the teenagers -- your friends -- most generally have something more to say. When your friends say their side, if they find any faults about the woman, they use that. But most generally, people'll say, "Well, you couldn't blame him and you couldn't blame her. He's just as bad. It takes two to fight all the time. One can't fight alone." And your grown-ups(65) have something like that to say too.

For the sake of the kids, you most generally try to provide for the children before you think about getting another woman. They're not supposed to go out into the world alone. They don't like to go out there without a father or mother. That is an insult to them. So you have to respect your woman that way. If there's any children in between the two of you, you have to talk and discuss the children with her. You and her have to discuss the children. You have to make sure that if she doesn't want to care for the children, they should stay with you, if they're able to. Your agreement must be there with her.

So that's the way it's done. It's done by a discussion of their own. So they know, she knows, how the kids are. And the children learn to recognize their mother. You let them go whenever they want to go visit their mother, and she let's them go when they want to visit you. If you take an interest for the kids that way, then it is good enough.

And you make sure when you make that move unto the next woman that you tell the next woman that you have children from this other woman, but that what you want is another wife.

You'll find that if she loves you enough the next woman'll make it work. She'll say, "Yes. I know you have children."

"But I want you to use(66) those children like a mother, and bring them up like they're yours."

If it is true love, she will.

The man doesn't want any other mother, no other stepmother, for his children. But sometime the new woman might not take for those children of the other woman. She might even abuse them. Before you'd get married again you want to make sure that the new woman would take care of those children. You want to be proper.

If you want to do business with the new woman even though she doesn't want to care for your children, the older Indian(67) might ask the grandparents to take care of the children. You may have folks(68) that want to adopt the children. Those folks are more loving to their grandchildren. Most generally a man loves his children, but there never was a better love than when it comes to grandchildren. There never was a better love to grandchildren. The grandfolks always love their grandchildren, and the grandchildren always love their grandfolks too. They respect one another, and that fits well.

The grandfolks would say, "It's up to you. You decided for a separation and you got it. Now you have to have someplace to take care of the children. You're the man. You're the father of the children."

Your mother or her mother would most generally take the children and raise those adopted grandchildren. They would adopt them, and you would prove the adoption in the Indian way by helping the old folks with the kids. You make sure that you have given them enough provisions so the children won't have a hardship in their life. In that way people respect those children.

"Whose children are they?" people might ask.

"Well, those are the children of her first man. She had separated from him and we took the children."

"Do you take care of the children?" they most generally ask one another in visits.

"Yeah, we take care of the grandchildren, but the father's helping. He's providing for the children."

"Well, that's nice. That looks good."

But most of the time, in the old days, the father's folks would take the children.(69) If the father is going to provide for the kids, generally his mother would take care of them. That's his mother and father, and he knows that his mother is going to be good to them. His mother and dad will take good care of them.

If her mother and father take the children, you aren't sure of yourself.(70) Generally, you would feel that her mother and father want to get all they can out of you, for the sake of the kids. Her folks always want to get all they can out of you, but your mother and father won't do that. Your father would help you along and help the children; you're sure of them. You know that if you have a little hard time, your father and mother will try to work it out with you, so you can go along. It's better that way.

Otherwise, if her folks had the children, they might say, "They're your children. Why don't you take care of them?"

But if you haven't got a job, how are you going to take them? And if your first woman's folks have the children they would still have the responsibility for the children and they might go after you more and more pretty heavy. But your father and mother will help you out. They'll do all they can to help the children, and they'll do all they can to help you. But still, you help them little by little. The more you help, the better it is for the children. You show them that things are going to go.

So that's a way to meet another woman. Most generally that's the way I have seen it work. That works out all right. So this one here, the women discarded, the one you separated from, she goes and gets another man without any trouble because you took the heavy load of the children off from her hands.

That was hard on the young children to see their father and mother bust up. And then, by destroying her, by destroying him, there's confusion about their father and mother, and that slows them down when they are trying to learn. They get over that finally, somehow, if it breaks up, but it takes a long time. They still do remember. They're not going out into the world alone. They don't like to go out there without a father or mother. That's an insult to them.

But still, the children learn to recognize their mother. You let them go whenever they want to go visit their mother, and she lets them go when they want to visit you. So that's true. It's proven. That's a legal separation, you might as well say. And you two agree.

But you can't do that anymore than twice. You get one or two chances -- that should be sufficient. If you're not satisfied with the second or third, you never will be. You figure yourself that you never will be satisfied, so what's the use trying? You just quit and forget looking around and get busy raising your children. Everything is better that way.

You get what I mean?

When a couple gets separated like that, if they have a good personal,(64) the people will say, "Well, that's too bad." They always were in hopes that these two would get along. They were sorry to see that separation, and that's about all they could say. But then, again, on the other side of it, the teenagers -- your friends -- most generally have something more to say. When your friends say their side, if they find any faults about the woman, they use that. But most generally, people'll say, "Well, you couldn't blame him and you couldn't blame her. He's just as bad. It takes two to fight all the time. One can't fight alone." And your grown-ups(65) have something like that to say too.

People separate mostly because of ohn-dáy-In-d^m, jealousy, and because of influence by others.(71) There's jealousy in every group. There's a lot of jealousy in the neighborhood. People will do anything if they're jealous of you.

Sometimes people interrupt the marriage by gossip. Sometimes somebody starts a rumor about this or that. The Indian was touchy about rumors. It they heard something they were unaware of, they were undecided about that.

Sometimes they set up to break up a new marriage with gossip because another woman wanted the man. This other woman's heart is breaking over the man, and the man's with his woman. The other woman thinks she should have had the man and that kinds of bothers her. So she might start a little influence interference, or interruption somehow, between those two.

It won't take much to stir them up. So they begin arguing about what they hear about what's come through and about what the news is. Pretty soon the man and his woman are arguing, and finally it comes to a point of separation.

That's the way it used to go along. They Some people cannot cure it their jealousy themselves. They cannot remedy it for a happy life. So they believe in gossiping. They gossip mostly, and there is an interruption in the marriage. And there is jealousy and other things in the marriage. There are all angles that could affect the marriage.

At times, people'll do all they can to get back at you. And they'll laugh about it, about how you make up and all. At least sometimes they did.

And the women joke around. Jokes are another thing that broke a lot of them up. They broke up just by joking. They couldn't take it, or overlook the jokes. Those days the women didn't overlook many jokes. They didn't take many jokes. So jokes didn't go very good, you know; they'd get curious in marriage. When they left one another alone in those days that went better.

Jokes in a young marriage didn't go very well, especially the jokes from the same people that you travelled with as teenagers. Sometimes that joking interferes, and they get a big kick out of that. They shake the woman up when they know the woman's jealous. They want a man, so they kick.(72)

They probably say to you when you're with your wife, "Well is that the same woman as when I saw you up there?"

Your wife will laugh along with them because it's a joke, but, when the two of you leave, she'll ask you, she'll drive at you, "What did you she mean by 'well, were you with another woman?'!" Then the argument will start and you'll argue many of your troubles. And when they are dissatisfied with you, they don't want to see any part of you!

Oh there are lot of angles! But the marriages that pick up and move away to another area get along good because they have no interference or interruption by others. And if you're far enough away, you don't get a chance to get the local gossip or news about your background, or about what you were like, you might say, in your teen-age days.

That's the case too with the second woman -- if I think I'd like to talk to the first one, I don't mention it. Well then, you'll get along fine, and that's fine and dandy. That way you get along.

If they're wise enough, most generally, they'll get to thinking, "Well I had that woman, and this next woman doesn't seem to get along very well with the first one. Now they carry on! But I'm still friends." Your new woman will talk to you, but not to that woman you separated from.

If you don't get along, if THEY don't get along, then it commences to work in your mind, "Well, maybe the best I could do is take her out of here. Then trouble won't start. It would heal up."

So you go.

They say when a man dies a mother will tell her daughter, "You lost your man now, but don't, don't cry. Don't cry. If you want to cry, get up and work for yourself. Be occupied, and that'll destroy your sorrow. That will get your heart active and working. Make a practice of working. When you make a practice of working, you'll accomplish what you've done. You'll accomplish the work you have done of that day, and you'll want more. Finally, it'll teach you how to learn a good life. It often happens that way. That way you'll often be a good worker by losing, by having a big loss."

The husband was a big loss to a woman and the woman is a big loss to a man in marriage. We all know that. But to sit and humble yourself, to cry, to simply cry, doesn't look so good. The people looking at you are most generally saying, "She was crying pretty hard. Yeah. I know her. Why couldn't she carry on better?"

"When you start crying, tearing down your heart, humbling yourself, go alone somewhere by yourself and cry it out. When you cry it out, you feel better. But don't let the people see you." That's what they used to tell them when their husband died. If they see you crying, it's the same as you're showing that your tickling your cheek-eyelid with water. They'll say, "It will be before the year's out that I'll bet she'll be running around. I'll bet you she'll too soon get another man. That shows; that's a happy cry."

So you don't cry. Take it brave and go along with your work. Then you'll be working out your loneliness. And that way you prove that you lost a man, a good man. Before you get another man, you want to make sure he'll help you with the work that you feel you aren't doing. Then you are looking for a good man.

When a woman's husband dies, it's up to her who she might marry. If she falls in love again, she might get another man, but she won't marry right away. In the olden days there was always the olden type. It takes a year to figure it out. After a year from the time your wife or husband dies, when that time comes, when that same day passes, then you're legalized to go and do whatever you please.

You carried good. You were really lonely. They'll say, "She respected him and carried on good." You've proven yourself. If you've proven that you miss your man, and that you're a very nice woman, you'll get a man quicker.

And for the year that she's morning the man, a woman will take with her a small bundle.(73) They tied their belongings in a little bundle. It's a black bundle, sometimes. It's a black cloth, maybe a big handkerchief, wrapped around their belongings. All the medicine(74) is in there. All the history of her family and medicine is written on birch bark,(75) and written on wooden dolls and put in there. They carried that to remember what sorrow they went through, and to remember that they believe in the Spirit of life. That was more for mourning for the whole family.

All she believed in, in her marriage, was all in there, in that bundle. There is medicine in there. There's medicine in there; that's why she keeps it. She believes that he has his medicine in there. Their belongings for the family were in there.

She kept that a year. Then after that year is over they leave it home. They don't carry it much after one year. They carried it along for about a year, to show they were in mourning. She doesn't get rid of it. She keeps that in safety, in her room. They keep it, and if there's another husband coming, that's all right. See, they work(76) that together, and they keep that little bundle as long as they work together.

Once in a while, when she's asked a question, she takes that little medicine bundle apart. But she doesn't take it apart unless that year is up, unless the year is due.

After that year has past she's re-meditated by the medicine doctor. There's a re-meditation when she's passed her mourning. After one year she is passed that. And it's all right to get married again when she's past her mourning.

The brothers of her lost husband respect that sister-in-law, too, and they'll prove(77) that in some way. It's all right if they marry her. They find out that she has kids. If she has kids they feel that a brother-in-law would be willing to help the children along. If that happens, he might marry her. That happened sometimes in marriage. It isn't too bad if they get married, because they expect this man to be good to his brother's children.(78)

That's the way they figures. I even hear them say that at times. I think that it works out. There's no hardship in that. If he's a right type of a man that really takes things sincere, and wants to settle down, it's OK.

But nowadays, you know, sometimes you run into a jam. But, if he's really a man, take him. Put a good woman and a good man together. Go around and watch that man. Watch what other people think. Watch what they see. He should show himself that he really wants this woman for a wife. Then they work hard together and the wife will show him a good home. That way the marriage goes along.

I saw that too, and there's too much said about that. A year afterwards anyhow, there's nothing against that. There's nothing against a woman marrying with her husband's brother.

In the old days people sometimes had two wives. Sometimes these wives were sisters. But that didn't happen in my time, by the time I was ready for marriage, because there was so much belief coming in through the churches.(79) In my time they had only one wife because the priest came among and told them, "One is enough. If you can handle one, it'll be a better life. Otherwise, if you have two, it might cause trouble." So now they believe that.

In my times, if they did look for somebody else, it's on the sly. The wife or the man never knew. But you have to look somewhere else, not in the same vicinity or the same village.

It never was different in that way. If you lived with two in the same vicinity, see, that would be like living like animals. They'd consider you living like animals, which was bad enough.(80) We want to have a little respect to our life.

On the other hand, if you wanted to marry your wife's sister, you could, but it has to be in a different village, in a different town. It they do have two wives, they usually had two separate wigwams, one for each one. It has to be that way. They can't have them in the same house.(81) They wouldn't stand for that. They wouldn't go. I've heard of that too.

I believe they generally couldn't live together. They may live in different towns, in different villages. That was all right. But they couldn't live together in the same village. There'd be a dispute in there. They would look forward to one another's interference. They couldn't live together in the same place.

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Mrs. Tamarack and Mrs. Mary Spruce, wives of Joe Spruce, in front of wigwam near Grand Portage.

Mrs. Tamarack and Mrs. Mary Spruce, wives of Joe Spruce,
in front of wigwam near Grand Portage.

Creator: Dewey Albinson (1898-1971)
Photograph Collection, 1922
  Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. E97.31 r22 Negative No.

In the olden days, before my time, if you were a good hunter, you could marry two. Well, in those days that was up to the women. In those days people didn't look much at that.(82) In the olden days they aren't supposed to be jealous. There's a shame in that. But if you go ahead and do what you please, if you practice that way, they get used to that and it's all right. It doesn't matter. So, they had two wives sometimes. If you were a good hunter you'd have to do the same, do the same with the second wife as you did with the first. You can pick out whoever you want by requesting, but she'd have to answer.(83) Oh, you have the privilege to pick your own wife out. But if you want a respect marriage you have to go through the doings legally. You could take somebody else if you wanted. But if the one you pick didn't want to marry you, you can go ahead and take anybody else, if you want to, because her father or your father didn't approve the marriage of this woman here. You can go ahead and pick out another one, try another one. That's your privilege.

I've never heard of a wife asking her husband to marry a second wife, to help her out with the work. I've never known that in my tribe. Your wife would always manage to do enough work on her own. And the man always manages to do enough work to help one another.

But to be a good man, you should respect your wife first in your marriage. You should talk to her first in everything you do. Then the life goes on. Just because you agree, she'll do the same with you. If she wants to talk to your folks, or if she wants to ask your folks important questions, she'll ask you about it first.

You can talk with your mother-in-law in questions. You'd have to ask your mother-in-law questions to talk to her, if you wanted to help your mother-in-law in any way. If you want to be a good man, you talk to your wife first and tell her what you're going to say to her mother. You tell your wife you're going to ask her mother something. If she says, "Go ahead and ask her," then you ask her. That is to say, if your wife is there and you think her mother would want this or that, or she would want that, you'd say, "Would it be all right for me to tell her?" Then you wife would say, "Ask her" -- or she'll ask her. That way it looks proper in the Indian way. But if your wife hasn't time, she'll give you the privilege to go to her mother. Otherwise she may be jealous -- you don't know.

For instance, if you come from somewhere else for a visit, you're glad to see your wife's folks, and you can sit and talk to them, sure. If it's just a "visiting-talk," then you're welcome to talk. You can talk with your mother-in-law or father-in-law, and she'll talk to her mother-in-law. It's all right, sure. It's a visit.

But to continue your questions, to bust in on your wife's mother with unexpected questions, is not very good. First you'd have to ask your wife if her mother would like this. Then she'll say, "Ma, would you like it? Would you like him to go get a duck for dinner? Would you like to have him get meat? Are you hungry for deer meat or something?"

"Oh I wish he would," she'd say. "That'd be fine."

The way Away he'd go. He would get enough for all of them.

That's the proper way to do it.

If you would directly ask her, your mother-in-law, "Would you like to have duck? Ya. Ya. I'll get one" -- what would she think!!?

She'd probably say, "Oh, hold on here! You have work to do."

See how quick that answer comes?

As I was telling you when we were talking about whispering, if you want to joke, you talk low. This is private. By whispering, you're saying, "this is private."

When you're talking, most generally you have to be a brother-in-law to say anything you want.(84) You have to be a brother-in-law, most generally a brother-in-law, to say what you want. You can say anything to a brother-in-law. And he'll say anything to you back. Regardless of what you say, a brother-in-law isn't supposed to get mad. You could say anything to him and he's not supposed to get mad -- if you're his brother-in-law. Same way with the sister-in-law. Same with the cousin-in-law. You can say anything to in-laws. You can say anything to your sister-in-laws or brother-in-laws.

But you have to respect your uncle-in-laws or father-in-laws.

You could say anything to your cousin-in-laws or sister-in-laws. That's what they call nii-nim, nii-nim. You could crack off anything with them, and they'll crack off with you. You have that right because he's married to your sister, or she's married to your brother. You have the right to joke with them and say anything you want. They have to take it because you give them the rubbing as a brother-in-law. Your brother-in-law defends that. He takes care of that.

They're called nii-tah-wlss, that's brother, brother-in-law. Nii-nlm is a woman, same as nii-tah-wlss. Woman use nl-nln-mushan instead of nii-tah-wlss. Women use nii-ni-mu-sha. Nii-ni-mu-sha is "sweetheart," "love," "cousin."(85) And nii-nlm is just like "sweetness." That's your brother-in-law.

You like that word! Nii-ni-mu-sha is a good word. It's a loving word.

It wasn't necessary to joke, but if he wanted to, if a brother-in-law felt like it, it was all right. Sometimes you'll be padding along a rice field somewhere and you wonder who that boat is.(86) Well, he's got your sister, so you know it's your brother-in-law. Your sister thinks he's all right, and she's trying to please him. You pull up alongside of him.

"How's he? Do you feed him heavy with the amount of work he does? Is he worth what he eats? How is he on the job? Is he lazy?"

You could say all those things around her. Or you might say, "My sister there will teach you how to pound(87) rice. You can be sure that for the winter she'll give you enough rice. In the winter she'll be sure that you have enough rice. Later on maybe it doesn't matter if you work. Sit down; you'll be so fat or lazy."

You'd say something of that type.

Then again you can tell her, maybe, "Geez, I don't see how you live with him that long. Look at him. You must be pretty tough girl to stand it."

We'd joke around like that. Well, he hasn't much to say because there's another party in the boat that's listening. It reverses and then we he can't say much. Maybe he'll say a word or two back to us. It was like that you know.

You might continue to crack off: "Do you have to help him go out and make provisions?" or, "Does he force you to go out ricing? Can't he provide alone? You better go down to the relief(88) office."

You'd say something like that. You'd say that, and he'd want to latch(89) at you, but he couldn't. Then you'd continue, "Boy, he always eats good."

Or you'd say, "You want to teach him how to eat well? What provisions does he lack?" Or you'd say to him, "Geez, I saw a coon up there, and does he ever have lips, and white hair. And what a pair of eyes! I though that was you when I first saw him!"

We'd joke like that. I've seen that. But he knows that you were just joking with him. They don't get mad.

Boy did they laugh!

Sometimes they'd be telling a story and they wanted a good man to give lectures. Somebody'd go up to lecture and his sister'll say, "One of our brothers should have gone up there to tell stories." Then her husband will say, "One of your brothers? He couldn't speak. He couldn't say 'shit.'"

He'd put him down low. See?

Oh, like we say, "Heck, he's buying a plane. He's going to Washington."(90) Like my brother Tom. He was going to town to get a great big ham. He was going to get ham for his wife. But if my wife heard that, she'd say, "I'll bet anything his wife'll have to pay for it." My wife would say something like that about Tom.

It's just a fun. We were bragging our family up and the in-laws'ed be running us down. Your brother-in-law would be running you down for a joke, but your sister would be bragging you up all the time. Naturally he bragged about his brothers and sisters too. Then she'll say, "She's got to show me. She doesn't prove to be anything." And that's the way it goes. "She doesn't prove anything -- the way I see it." So that's the way the argument would go.

That's the way they live, for a joke. In-laws or brother-in-laws joke away. They want to be friendly, and they like one another because they have a lot of fun laughing together. But if need be, they protect one another. Your brother-in-law is the most wonderful, the most likeable, relation there is -- if he's married to your sister. He thinks a lot of you. He'll defend and help you, and you like him because he's good to your sister. You'll favor him in every way.

But in joking, jeeze he's rough! xxx

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1. See Ch. 24, "Ni-mi-day-win: Come and Dance, Come and Sing -- Living and Spirits Alike."

2. Groups usually travelled around as family groups. See Ch. 3, "Canoe Days."

3. Family members living in a camp.

4. Once, in Duluth, MN, Paul Buffalo witnessed a large gathering on Lake Superior, on what is known locally as "Park Point" -- a five-mile peninsula that forms the harbor. There reportedly were "hundreds" of wigwams/tipis there, but this was very unusual. Usually the camps were smaller, as described elsewhere in these chapters.

5. Cf., Ch. 5, "Chiefs and Councils." "His camping ground" means the camping ground which he would usually go to in any particular season. See also Ch. 6, "Spring Move to the Sugar Bush," Ch. 7, "Skayy-go-mI-zi-gáy-wIn, Maple Sugar Time," Ch. 8, "Old Gardens and New Bark," Ch. 10, "Blueberry Time," and Ch. 14, "Mah-no-min-i-kayGii-siss, Wild Ricing Moon."

6. Daughters-in-law, sisters-in-law (brothers' wives), paternal uncles and their families, etc. The son-in-law would likely be there only for awhile after the marriage (see below), and occasionally after that.

7. "A big city of the village of the Indian," or big-city-Indian-village would probably be a camp of a couple hundred people.

8. See also discussion of desirable qualities in a wife and husband in Ch. 3, "Canoe Days."

9. See Ch. 22, "The Windigo Cannibal and Other Life Trials and Adventures of Gwashun, the Boy Who Did Not Obey His Father and Mother: Our Favorite Story."

10. XXX add footnote here that explains that -- When Paul Buffalo is thinking "uncle" in Anishinabe he's generally thinking along patrilineal lines; that is, for a girl he's thinking her father's brothers, and for a boy he's thinking the boy's father's brothers.

But sometimes Paul Buffalo is talking and thinking "uncle" in English, in which case he is thinking a brother of either the child's father or mother.

"Aunts" are treated similarly, although in a patrilineal system an aunt belongs to her brother's and son's patrilineage.

Dodaims are long-range extensions of the patrilineal principle. See xxx

Morgan 1871 p. 204 put forth the following analysis of Ojibwa kinship systems -- comparing this especially with the Dakota and Iroquois systems. He said:

xxxadd quote from Roufs 1966, p. 6; add other quotes from 1966 paper.

11. That is, as long as someone called the girl in question "niece" in Anishinabe, that was an individual that the suitor could go to with his messages. This would most often be the prospective bride's mother's brother.

In traditional patrilineal systems your brother's sons are often called by the same term as you call your own biological "son," but your sister's sons are called "nephew." Similarly, your brother's daughters are called "daughter," but your sister's daughters are called, "niece." James H. Howard (1965, p. 67) sums this up for the Plains Ojibway: "Children of ego's brother's and sisters who (the brothers or sisters) are of the same sex as ego are called son and daughter by ego. Children of ego's brothers and sisters not of the same sex as ego are called by terms equivalent to the English niece or nephew. (i.e. A man's brother's son would be called xxxredo-characters-w/windows n''goS', son, and his daughter dans's, daughter, but his sister's son would be called níni'mgwanæ'ns, nephew, and her daughter nSs^S'mSs^àns, niece."

12. Cf., Ch. 4, "Siouxs and Scouts." See also information about invitations on page 587.

13. Carbine deer rifle.

14. These blankets are given to him from among his own relatives. His own relations will give the young man blankets and other gifts that he, in turn, will give to his new in-laws at the time they get married.

15. "Old Lady" and "Old Man" are terms of respect, as old people are most respected in the groups.

16. Into a purification tipi or into a small wigwam. See discussion on "self-house" menstrual huts, in Ch. 26, "Self-Houses, Sweat Houses, and Bloodletting."

17. He moves in and lives with the girl and her parents, for a little while at least. Anthropologists call this "bride service." After the man has helped his in-laws out for awhile, and after his own house is ready (see below), he and his new bride will move to their own quarters. This new house is generally with his family, his patrilineal band group, but it is usually not too far from the camps of his wife's family members.

18. The oldest male in the patrilineage of the man getting married. This would usually be the father or father's father of the groom.

19. The two getting married, and the father and mother of the girl.

20. Great Spirit.

21. The spring is also the time when groups would get together for maple sugar making (see Chs. 6, "Spring Move to the Sugar Bush," and Ch. 7, "Skayy-go-mI-zi-gáy-wIn, Maple Sugar Time.") They would also meet others doing things like picking blueberries (see Ch. 10, "Blueberry Time"). Paul Buffalo's mother and father met during blueberry picking time. See xxx People also met other groups during wild ricing times (see Ch. 14, "Mah-no-min-i-kay Gii-siss, Wild Ricing Moon").

22. See Ch. 6, "Spring Move to the Sugar Bush," and Ch. 7, "Skayy-go-mI-zi-gáy-wIn, Maple Sugar Time."

23. See Ch. 10, "Blueberry Time," and Ch. 12, "Inbetween Time."

24. This is a verbal invitation, not written. In essence they "pass the word" that there's going to be a feast, for so-and-so who are sharing their life together.

25. After one is married they do not "fool around". . . . xxx add bib refs "Fooling around" also sometimes is used in the sense of a general fooling around, including not taking certain things in life seriously enough, or taking an interest in something like medicine when you don't know it properly, or not having a proper respect for things. "Fooling around" is NOT always specifically limited to a marital "fooling around," although that would be included as a part of not living life properly and with proper respect for your spouse, and the world in general.

26. The tendency is to look after those in your patrilineage. So, a woman would defend her brothers and their children, and a man would defend his sister and his own children.

27. Sickness can be caused by being out of balance -- out of balance with nature, people, etc. If one side of the marriage is not contributing his/her share to the balance of the marriage, then that person can get an ailment because of it.

28. xxxCf. description of log cabin building in Ch. 38, "Finns, 'The Sweatbath-Men'."

29. "The field" is the area that you and your family occupy from season to season and from year to year. In this case "the field" includes the plants, animals, land and humans, in essence, everything in nature in the area.

30. Body for.

31. Food, building materials, hides for clothing, etc.

32. In the old days this tended to be a form of village exogamy, where one was expected or encouraged to seek a mate from another village than one's own. But this also tied in with the fact that the groups and small villages tended to be settlements of patrilineal family members and their spouses. Thus, one needed to go to another village or group to find a marriageable partner.

33. "Cousins" are thought of quite differently. . . . There is a distinction made between what anthropologists call "parallel cousins" and "cross-cousins."

When Paul Buffalo says the English word "cousin" he means parallel cousins. So when he says here, "If they are cousins, they can't marry," what he is really saying is, "If they are parallel cousins, they can't marry." Parallel cousins are children of your mother's sister or your father's brother. Parallel cousins in Chippewa are usually called by the same name as "brother" and "sister." Therefore your biological sister is called "sister," and your mother's sister's daughter and father's brother's daughter are called by the same term ("sister"). Anyone you call "sister/brother" are, in effect, the same as your own biological "sister/brother" and are thus not eligible mates because of an incest taboo.

On the other hand, cross cousins, children of your father's sister or mother's brother, are not considered relatives, and because they are not considered relatives they are eligible marriage partners -- and, in someplaces are the preferred/required spouses through a practice known to anthropologists as known as "cross-cousin" marriage. Among some Chippewa groups cross-cousin marriage was apparently common, even preferred.

xxxcheck also master index For information on Chippewa cross-cousin marriage see R. W. Dunning, Social and Economic Change Among the Northern Ojibwa, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1959; reprinted 1972); Fred Eggan, "Social Anthropology: Methods and Results," in Social Anthropology of the North American Tribes, 2nd ed., ed. by Fred Eggan (University of Chicago Press, 1955), pp. 521-536; A. Irving Hallowell, "Was Cross-Cousin Marriage Practised by the North-Central Algonkian," Proceedings of the Twenty Third International Congress of Americanists, (NY, 1928), pp. 519-544; A. Irving Hallowell, "Cross Cousin Marriage in the Lake Winnipeg Area," in Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Studies, Philadelphia Anthropological Society, ed. by D. S. Davidson, (1937), pp. 95-110; A. Irving Hallowell, "Northern Ojibwa Ecological Adaptation and Social Organization," in Contributions to Anthropology: Selected Papers of A. Irving Hallowell, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976), pp. 333-350; Harold Hickerson, "The Southwestern Chippewa: An Ethnohistorical Study," American Anthropologist, 64:3: (Part 2), Memoir 92 (1962); Harold Hickerson, "The Genesis of Bilaterality Among Two Divisions of Chippewa," American Anthropologist, 68:1 (1966), pp. 1-26; Charles F. Hockett, "The Proto Central Algonquian Kinship System," in Explorations in Cultural Anthropology, ed. by Ward H. Goodenough (NY: McGraw-Hill, 1964), pp. 239-257; Ruth Landes, The Ojibwa Woman, Columbia University Contributions to Anthropology, 31 (1938; reprinted, NY: AMS Press, 1969; reprinted NY: W.W. Norton and Co., 1971); James G. E. Smith, "Termination of the Cross-Cousin Marriage Pattern Among the Southwestern Ojibwa," paper read at the 70th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, New York, 18-21 November 1971; and William D. Strong, "Cross-Cousin Marriage and the Culture of the Northeastern Alquonkian," American Anthropologist, 31:2 (1929), pp. 277-288.

34. Not caring about what happens to you, your relatives, your children, nature, etc., is one of the great offenses. And it will inevitably bring some kind of punishment to you or your relatives. Not to care about incest regulations is a grave offense.

35. They would have physical and mental defects.

36. It is very rare that Paul Buffalo or any of his contemporaries spoke this forcefully about anything. In the old way, to think about a close physical relationship/marriage with a known relative was unthinkable.

37. The position of relationships between people, tracing these back through patrilineal lines for generations.

38. They called parallel cousins (for example, father's brother's children and mother's sister's children) by the same terms they used for "brother" and "sister," and extended the incest taboo to all categorical "brothers and sisters" (including parallel relatives). Parallel relative recognition was extended a long ways; for example, one couldn't marry a father's father's brother's child, or a mother's mother's sister's child. In addition to extensions of the incest taboo to all parallel relative, the incest taboo was extended back "forever" to include in the taboo members of the same dodaim.

39. The traditional Indians, including virtually all of the full-bloods and all of Paul Buffalo's generation or older.

40. Someone culturally defined as a relation.

41. Marrying your relation, as broadly as patrilineal relations are thought of among Chippewa groups -- and extending as it does back through the dodaim to even mythical times -- is tantamount to becoming mentally ill. If you knowingly marry your relation, as culturally defined, you must be "crazy."

42. It is said that in Chippewa the worst thing that you can call someone is a dog. Usually people will note that there is no cursing or swearing in Chippewa, and that the worst comment you can make has to do with dogs. Paul Buffalo often noted, however, "We don't have swearing [cursing] in Indian -- but we can sure string some pretty good things together." The parallel with dogs is meant to refer to the lowest forms of behavior.

43. Pezeke, Chief Buffalo of Lake Superior. "Great-grandfather" means "Older-than-grandfather."

44. 1966.

45. See footnote number xxx391.

46. Parallel cousins -- father's brother's children and mother's sister's children -- are called by the same term as "brother" and "sister."

47. Any "blood" intermarriage mixture.

48. Biological sisters.

49. One who studies nature, natural relationships, people, interpersonal relationships, etc.

50. Dodaims, from which the word totem comes, were very important to Anishinabe peoples. xxxcheck-supp-A-index,-and-C For further information on dodaims see Frances Densmore, Chippewa Customs (St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society, 1979); Barbara Sommer, Ojibwa Totems (Duluth, MN, ms., 39 pp., 1976); xxxcheck 1197); W.W. Warren, History of the Ojibwa Nation (Minneapolis, MN: Ross and Haines, 1957); Newton H. Winchell (ed.), The Aborigines of Minnesota. . . . (St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society, 1911).

51. See also note in Ch. 16, "Lacrosse and Other Camp Games."

52. This also would equal "brother-way-back."

53. She belongs to the same dodaim, the same clan (sib) as Paul Buffalo, and is therefore his "brother," i.e., the same as a "brother-sister" relationship. Paul Buffalo's clan is the loon, and anyone who is a loon clan member is considered a "brother." Women who are of the loon dodaim are also "brothers," i.e., sib mates, or siblings of the same patriclan. Clans are reckoned through the male line.

54. See Ch. 2, "Bena Childhood."

55. It's well-known in the Anishinabe oral traditions. Cf. footnote XXX on "reading."

56. Cf., Ch. 36, "School."

57. The whites only restrict cousin marriage between first cousins.

58. Individual actions were often though to affect the group. If an individual did something considered wrong, not only did it affect him/her, but it also had an effect on the family and especially on anyone "related by blood." This would include the whole family "group," as well as the members of the dodaim. One's wrongdoings were thus a matter not only for the individual, but also for any of those who might be affected by a transgression.

The "defect" referred to here is both a physical defect and a spiritual one.

59. For information on the use of birch bark scrolls, including birch bark scrolls used in the Midewiwin (cf., Ch. 30, "Mi-de-wi-win") see Fred K. Blessing, "Some Observations on the Use of Bark by the Southern Ojibwa Indians," Minnesota Archaeologist, 19:4 (1954), pp. 3-14; Fred K. Blessing, "Birchbark Mide Scrolls from Minnesota," Minnesota Archaeologist, 25:3 (1963), pp. 89-142; Donald A. Cadzow, "Bark Records of the Bungi Midewin Society," Indian Notes, 3 (1926), pp. 123-134; Michael P. Closs, "Tallies and the Ritual Use of Number in Ojibway Pictography," in Native American Mathematics, ed by Michael P. Closs (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1986), pp. 181-211; Walter James Hoffman, "Pictography and Shamanistic Rites of the Ojibwa," American Anthropologist, 1:3 (1888), pp. 209-229 (reprinted in Native North American Art History, ed. by Zena P. Mathews and Aldona Jonaitis, Palo Alto, CA, 1982); Walter James Hoffman, "Notes on Ojibwa Folk-lore," American Anthropologist, 2:3 (1889), pp. 215-223; Walter James Hoffman, "The Midewiwin; or 'Grand Medicine Society' of the Ojibwa," in Bulletin of the Bureau of American Ethnology, Seventh Annual Re;port, 1885-1886, (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1891), pp. 143-300; W. Vernon Kinietz, "Birch Bark Records Among the Chippewa," Indiana Academy of Science, Proceedings, 49 (1940), pp. 38-40; Richard Nelson, "Inscribed Birch Bark Scrolls and Other Objects of the Midewiwin," Papers of the Fourteenth Algonquian Conference, 1982, ed. by William Cowan, (Ottawa: Carleton University, 1983), pp. 219-235); John Tanner, A Narrative of the Captivity and Adventures of John Tanner During Thirty Years Residence Among the Indians in the Interior of North America, (NY: Carville, 1830; reprinted, Minneapolis, MN: Ross and Haines, 1956); and Joan M. Vastokas, "Interpreting Birch Bark Scrolls," Papers of the Fifteenth Algonquian Conference, 1983, ed. by William Cowan, (Ottawa: Carleton University, 1984); 425-444.

60. Other Indian tribes and groups.

61. That is, sometimes they're related by blood. See discussion above.

62. This can be physical and/or psychological ailments and pressure.

63. Using Indian medicine doctors. Cf., Ch. 26, "Self-Houses, Sweat Houses, and Bloodletting," Ch. 27, "Dreams and Visions," Ch. 28, "Power," Ch. 29, "What's Behind the Sun?: An Indian Sermon," Ch. 30, "Mi-de-wi-win," Ch. 31, "An Indian Curing Ceremony," Ch. 32, "Spiritual Doctoring (Tipi-Shaking) and Bone-Sucking Specialists," and Ch. 33, "Medicine Men / Medicine Women."

64. A good personality, a good nature, a good personal history of helping and caring for people, a good record of following traditional customs, etc.

65. Parents and older relatives.

66. Treat.

67. The Indian in the old days, i.e., a traditional Indian.

68. Grandparents, great-grandparents, paternal uncles for men, or other relations.

69. In the old days the children generally stayed in the patrilineage, thus the man's relatives would take care of the children. In a patrilineage system the biological mother of the child belongs to another patrilineage than her own children, and her interest would be in taking care of her father's and brothers' children.

70. Your wife and her father and, usually, her mother, are in different patrilineages than your/your wife's children. Therefore, when the son of the husband is with a family of another patrilineage, "you aren't sure of yourself," i.e., you aren't sure that they will act in the best interests of your/your son's patrilineage.

71. xxxAdd footnote on Jealousy. . . .

72. That is they jab, poke around, verbally jibe, or otherwise interfere with a woman and her man, particularly if the woman doing the "kicking" has an interest in the other woman's man.

73. This is sometimes known in the literature as a "spirit bundle." Cf., Sister Bernard Coleman, "The Religion of the Ojibwa of Northern Minnesota," Primitive Man [now Anthropological Quarterly], 10 (1937), pp. 3-4, 33-57; Sister M. Inez Hilger, "Chippewa Burial and Mourning Customs," American Anthropologist, 46 (1944), pp. 564-658; and Thomas Loraine McKenney, Sketches of a Tour to the Lakes, of the Character and Customs of the Chippewa Indians, and of Incidents Connected with the Treaty of Fond du Lac. . . . (Baltimore: Fielding Lucas, Jr., 1827; reprinted, Barre, MA: Imprint Society, 1972,; reprinted, Minneapolis, MN: Ross and Haines, 1959), pp. 292-294; John Tanner, A Narrative of the Captivity and Adventures of John Tanner During Thirty Years Residence Among the Indians in the Interior of North America, (NY: Carville, 1830; reprinted, Minneapolis, MN: Ross and Haines, 1956); Sometimes spirit bundles were not kept. This is particularly true when the widow married a brother of her deceased husband.

74. Cf., Ch. 13, "Indian Medicine," and Ch. 33, "Medicine Men/Medicine Women."

75. Cf. page 25.

76. Use the same medicines and the same beliefs.

77.They'll prove that she has been a good wife by mourning properly, i.e., they will make sure that they make their approval known to her and publicly to the community.

78. In a patrilineage a brother's children are part of a brother-in-law's primary family group, and therefore he has invested interest in their welfare.

79. Cf. Ch. 46 "Doctors and Missionaries." xxx

80.As bad as you can get.

81. But sometimes in the old days they had them in separate sections of the same house. Cf. xxxbib

82. I.e., they didn't think anything of it.

83. That is, your wife's sister or any second wife would still have the right to agree to it or not, the same as with the first. And to make the marriage "legal" you would still have to go through the same ceremonies. And if the one you "selected" or "requested" turned you down, you would still have the "privilege" of trying for another.

84. These are sometimes known in the literature as "joking relationships." Sometimes joking with your brother-in-law is culturally required.

85. Cross-cousin (father's sister's child or mother's brother's child) and therefore an eligible or preferred mate. With a cross-cousin marriage practice your "cousin" will also be your "sweetheart."

86. Who's in the boat.

87. How to harvest rice by "pounding" it with sticks into the canoe or boat. Cf., xxx

88. Welfare.

89. He'd want to hook on to you with some remark of his own.

90. Brother-in-laws would often joke by saying something absurd about the other. The more absurd, the better.

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