|Tim Roufs||extended search|
When Everybody Called
"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."
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 traveled
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.
|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 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.
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 when ricing or sugaring, 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)
And finally they engaged -- when they got through discussing.
They had plenty to eat. It was there for them.
Maybe the girl, in this other camp, following the 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 traveled 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.
The young man picks out the girl who will stay home more. The old folks will tell their 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.
The young man 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 his 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 says, well, that he has to show that he can provide.
And he'll show them. He'll probably go out in the woods to do that. 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 wiigwaam 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, lying 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."
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 and help. Even the old grandma, even the mother, will try and help.
Sometimes, in my times, he gave her folks other kinds of 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 gunny sack or pack-sack of 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.
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 her 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 blankets and rugs. That's donated to him by his own relations.(14) This is for the father and mother -- 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 the blankets back 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.
As I mentioned, 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 wiigwaam. When he does this, eventually she'll come out and say, "Everything's OK." And after a while they'll marry, nine days after.
She has to go in a special little wiigwaam or 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 wiigwaam or tipi, and they'll have a feast. Her father will give a feast where they'll 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 wiigwaam 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 of the girl 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 -- sort of like a handshake -- from the people who came to the feast. The onlookers approve it, then they hold their hands.
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 wiigwaam.
I've seen that happen in my time. 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 fry 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, 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 neighbor-ly Indians.
If it's cold, with damp ground, damp ground, they may not have that powwow for a while. We're talking spring now. When there's damp ground we didn't powwow so much. And after it warms up the sugar bush 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."
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." Something might happen to them if they fool around. They might lose one another. So, generally they don't fool around . . . with anything, including other women. 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 her brothers mad. And they'd get mad if you abuse her. One might even come and do away with you because they look after and defends their 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.(27) "Be careful, respectful. Always behave yourself. Always don't have trouble. To right yourself, work. If your in-laws 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.(28)
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 wiigwaam, or shack, or anything I can build."
Then the new couple get their own wiigwaam 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 don'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.(29)
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
Some lived so close by 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 him. 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 themselves.
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.
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 alone. 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(30) -- 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(31)
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(32)
with the children. That's a happy marriage.
They call a large family a happy family because they're sticking together. It's alright 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 that they were made very well by their father and mother.
Over the years the kids have learned more from father and mother than anyone else. And when their mother tries 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.
But how far can they go?
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, until they're on their own. 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 then.
Most generally the boy and girl come from different groups, from different villages.(33) If they have any attachment or relation, they don't allow them to marry. If they are cousins, they can't marry.(34) 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!(35) If there's any attachment of relation, they don't get married, because if they would, that defects them.(36) 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!!!!!(37)
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.(38)
But in the old days they respect that relationship.(39) 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.(40) 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,(41) the others in the tribe would say, "Why think how crazy he is.(42) He even went and married relation! That's just like an animal. Dogs'll do that.(43) 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.(44) 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 respected 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?(45) 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 mothers' 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."(46) "Cousin" is just like "brother" in Indian. In-dah-way-Im means just like "brother."(47) 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 relations 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(48) 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.(49)
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.(50)
We respect that dodaim(51) too. A dodaim is a cousin, brother, sister, or long-range relative.(52) That dodaim means a person would be like your "cousin-way-back."(53) 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 for a wife."
"Oh no!" they said, "that's your dodaim! She has the same type of blood that you carry. She had the same degree of blood too. She has the same degree of blood because you two are the same dodaim and that's brotherly."(54) 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.(55) 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 quarter bred. 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.(56) It's written up to the Indian. Those dodaim are something again. We don't have dodaims just for nothing. We respect that. Years ago, in the olden community, if a guy wanted to go after a woman or a girl, and started kidding her, the old people 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 even repeat the answers, and it would still be hard to understand.
I was already in school(57) 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 only restricted marriage to first cousins.(58) 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.(59) They figure that the clear dope -- without relationship -- makes the best marriages. They figure that's the best mixture for married life.
Your dodaim is marked on a birch bark drawing.(60) A big piece of birch bark is rolled up, telling you who's your relation. My dodaim is the loon. And I'm also 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 the older folks -- like Old John Smith(61) -- considered marriages between dodaim birds -- like the loon and the thunderbird -- to be of the first file, and were not allowed. 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, and they can marry.(62) Some Indians put that on totem poles.(63) In the old days we generally wrote our dodaims on birch bark. By reading that birch bark writing, that's where you learn about dodaims.
I learnt this also 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 together, a good set-up.
But actually that did not happen too much. In my times, I saw only a couple cases like that.
I think that the way we married and lived in the old days worked out alright, at least until there was a break-off on one side or another. A break-off in a marriage wrecks the whole deal, you might say. Sometimes a marriage doesn't work out, and the folks separate. 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.(64) 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 a while 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 sounds 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.
If some sickness or some ailment that they are carrying keeps them thinking about the break-up, this puts pressure on them.(65) It puts pressure on them, and, most likely, they'll be thinking about it and trying to help themselves by Indian doctoring.(66) If it doesn't clear up -- if the ailment doesn't clear up after the doctoring -- they finally find themselves face down.
All along 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, you just take off for separation; the man just walks off.
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 usually get over that finally, somehow, if the family breaks up, but it takes a long time. It all works out. But they still do remember.
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 into the world 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 going to be taken care of. And 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. 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 those children like a mother, and bring them up like they're yours."(67)
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 one still wants to do business with the new woman even though she doesn't want to care for the children, the older Indian(68) might ask the grandparents -- his parents -- to take care of the children. One may have folks(69) that want to adopt the children. Those folks are more loving to their grandchildren than anyone else. Most generally a man loves his children, but there never was a better love than when it comes 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 maybe even 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?" some people might ask the grandma.
"Well, those are his children with the first woman. 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."
Most of the time, in the old days, the father's folks would take the children.(70) 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.(71) 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 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 along OK.
So that's a way to meet another woman. Most generally that's the way I have seen it work. That works out alright. 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.
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,(72) 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 out 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(73) have something like that to say too.
People separate mostly because of ohn-dáy-In-d^m -- jealousy -- and because of influence by others.(74) There's jealousy in every group. There's often a lot of jealousy in the neighborhood. The older 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. The young people more often want to go along with the whites so they don't get too excited about that.
Sometimes older folks and young folks alike 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 kind 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.
At times, people'll do all they can to get back at you. And they'll laugh about it -- about how you make up after a bust-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 traveled 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.(75)
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 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 he's wise enough, most generally the man will 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 with both." 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, and you start to think, "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.
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 out what to do. 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 yourself 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.(76) They tied their
belongings in a little bundle. It's a black bundle, sometimes. It's often a
black cloth. Maybe it's a big handkerchief, wrapped around their belongings.
All the medicine(77) is in there. All
the history of her family and medicine is written on birch bark,(78)
and written on wooden dolls and put in there. They carried that for a year 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.
Everything 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 too. Their belongings for them as the family were in there.
She kept that a year. Then after that year is over she leaves 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 alright. See, they work(79) 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 otherwise she doesn't take it apart unless that year is up, unless the year's end is due.
After that year has passed 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 mourning, and it's alright for her to get married again.
The brothers of her lost husband respect that sister-in-law and they'll prove that in some way.(80) They might even marry her, after her mourning year is past and she has been re-meditated. If she has kids they feel that a brother-in-law should be willing to help the children along. If she does, one 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 as they all belong to the same dodaim group.(81)
That's the way they figure. I even hear them say that at times. I think that it works out. There's no hardship in that. If the brother-in-law's a right type of a man that really takes things sincere, and wants to settle down, it's a good thing for him to marry his brother's widow.
But now-a-days, you know, sometimes you run into a jam. But, if he's really a good man, the widow should 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 very well.
I saw that too, and there's not 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 wifes at the same time. Sometimes these wifes were sisters. But that didn't happen much in my time -- by the time I was ready for marriage -- because there was so much belief coming in through the churches.(82) In my time they had only one wife because the priest came among them 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 while they were still married, it's generally 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 wifes in the same vicinity, see, that would be living like animals. They'd consider you living like animals, which was bad enough.(83) We want to have a little respect to our life. I believe they generally couldn't live together, in the same place. They may live in different towns, in different villages. That was alright. But they couldn't live together in the same village. There'd be a dispute in there sooner or later. They would always be looking forward to -- expecting -- one another's interference.
On the other hand, if you wanted to marry your wife's sister, you
could. I've heard of that too. But you have to live in a different village from where they grew up.(84) If
they do have two wifes, they usually had two separate wiigwaams,
one for each one. It has to be that way. They can't have them in the same
house.(85) They wouldn't stand for that.
They wouldn't go.
In the olden days -- before my time -- if you were a good hunter, you could marry two. In those days, as I understand it, that was up to the women. In those days people didn't look much at that.(86) In the olden days, like today, they aren't supposed to be jealous. There's a shame in that jealousy. So if you just go ahead and do what you please about the second wife -- if you want to practice that way -- the wifes get used to that and it's alright. It doesn't matter what people think. So, they had two wifes sometimes.
If you were a good hunter you could have two wifes, but you'd have to do the same with the second wife as you did with the first. You could pick out whoever you want by requesting, but she'd have to answer.(87) You have the privilege to pick out your own wife. You could take somebody else as a wife -- if you wanted -- but if you want a respect marriage you have to go through all the doings legally. And if the one you pick didn't want to marry you, you can go ahead and try to take anybody else -- if you want to -- because her father or your father didn't approve the marriage of the first woman that you picked out. You can go ahead and pick out another one -- try for 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 along OK.
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. Because you agree to do it that way, 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 but you have to do it 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. If your wife is there and you think her mother would want this or that -- or she would want this or that for her mother -- you'd say, "Would it be alright for me to ask her?" Then you wife would say, "Ask her" -- or she'll ask her. But if your wife hasn't time, she'll give you the privilege to go to her mother and ask her yourself. That way it looks proper in the Indian way. 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 your wife'll talk to her mother-in-law the same way. It's alright, 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. To continue a visit in the proper Indian way, 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."
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 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.(88) You have to be a brother-in-law -- most generally a brother-in-law -- to say whatever 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 and father-in-law.
You could say anything to your cousin-in-laws or sister-in-laws. That's what they call 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."(89) 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 around, but if he wanted to -- if a brother-in-law even just felt like it -- it was alright. For example, sometimes you'll be padding along a rice field somewhere and you wonder who that boat is.(90) Well, he's got your sister, so you know it's your brother-in-law. Your sister thinks he's alright, and she's trying to please him. You pull up alongside of him.
"How's he?" you ask your sister loud enough for your brother-in-law to hear.
"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 to him, "My sister there will teach you how to pound rice.(91) But don't worry; you can be sure that for the winter she'll give you enough rice to get by on. In the winter she'll be sure that you have enough rice. Later on, maybe, it doesn't matter if you work. So sit down; you'll be too fat or lazy to pound rice."
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 another boat that's listening. The joking reverses and then we
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 office."(92)
You'd say something like that. You'd say that, and he'd want to latch(93) 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 thought 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 when it ended they wanted a good man to continue giving 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."(94) 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 my sister'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 in-laws 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!
2. People usually traveled around as family groups, and it was often during these travels that the young folks -- the single young men and young women -- would meet and get interested in one another. See Ch. 3, "Canoe Days." The family patrilineal groups were, for the most part, patrilocal, that is, after a period of "bride service" [sometimes also known as "suitor service"] a newly-married couple returned to the location of the young man's family to live. To look at it another way, a young women and her new husband (after bride service was over) left her home and went and lived in the family grouping of her husband's family.
3. As many as fifty family members might be living in a camp group. This is not fifty groups.
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 wiigwaams/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 a normal season. See also Ch. 6, "Spring Move to the Sugar Bush," Ch. 7, "Skigamizigewin, Maple Sugar Time," Ch. 8, "Old Gardens and New Bark," Ch. 10, "Blueberry Time," and Ch. 13, "Manoominike-Giizis, 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 a short while after the marriage (while he was doing "bride service"), and just occasionally after that.
7. "A big city of the village of the Indian," or big-city-Indian-village would probably be imagined to be a camp of a couple hundred people.
10. When Paul Buffalo is thinking "uncle" in the Anishinabe language 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 (a bilateral system), 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. A girl's mother's family is not part of her patrilineage (i.e., in a traditional patrilineage the girl's mother's family is not considered to be part of the girl's family). A girl's relatives are considered to be those who are related to her through a male link -- and only through a male link. Likewise, in a patrilineage, a girl's biological children are not considered to be in her family (patrilineage); they belong to her husband's patrilineage, i.e., to her husband's "family."
Dodaims (clans) are long-range extensions of the patrilineal principle. And members of one's dodaim are considered family. Paul Buffalo's dodaim was the loon; therefore all people of the loon dodaim are members of his family, the same as his father and mother, brother and sister, etc.
11. That is, as long as someone called the girl in question "niece" in Anishinabe, that was a person that the suitor or his representative could go to with his messages. This would most often be the prospective bride's father's brother (or other member of the bride's [patrilineal] family -- usually a male of her father's generation or older [i.e., it could be the father's father's brother, if he were alive]).
In traditional patrilineal systems your brother's sons are often called by the same term as you call your own biological "son" [man speaking] but your sister's sons are called something else. Similarly, your brother's daughters are called "daughter" [man speaking], but your sister's daughters are called something else. James H. Howard (1965, p. 67) sums this up for the Plains Ojibway: "Children of ego's brothers 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--following_Brian 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." "Ego" is the term used to designate the point of reference when discussing and analysing kinship systems, i.e., "Ego" is the person who is speaking, or who is the reference point of the discussion.
13. Carbine deer rifle.
14. These blankets are given to him from his own relatives -- members of his patrilineage. His own (patrilineal) relations will give the young man blankets and other gifts that he, in turn, will give to his new in-laws at the time he gets married.
15. "Old Lady" and "Old Man" are terms of respect and endearment, as old people are most respected in the groups.
16. To prepare for marriage the prospective bride here goes into a purification tipi or into a small wiigwaam. See also the discussion on "self-house" menstrual huts in Ch. 25, "'Self-Houses,' Sweat Houses, and Bloodletting."
17. The groom 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 a while, and after his own house is ready (see below), he and his new bride will move to their own quarters. This new house that is constructed for the newlyweds is generally build with the help of his family, his patrilineal band group, but it is also usually not too far from the camps of his wife's family members. Cf. also, Ch. 12, "Inbetween Time."
18. The oldest male in the patrilineage of the man getting married approves the marriage. This would usually be the groom's father or the groom's father's father, but it could also be the groom's father's brother (if the groom's father was not alive).
19. The two getting married, and the father and mother of the girl.
20. They thanked the 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, "Skigamizigewin, Maple Sugar Time.") They would also meet up others doing things like picking blueberries (see Ch. 10, "Blueberry Time"). Paul Buffalo's mother and father met during blueberry picking time. See Ch. 1, "Early Life at Leech Lake." People also met other groups during wild ricing times (see Ch. 13, "Manoominike-Giizis, Wild Ricing Moon").
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. They also send invitations with the scouts; cf., Ch. 4, "Siouxs and Scouts."
25. After one is married they do not "fool around". . . . "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 prohibition from marital fooling around would be included as a part of 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 (your dodaim group). So, a woman would defend and look after her brothers and their children, and a man would defend and look after his sister and his own children (but not his sister's children).
27. Cf., Ch. 27, "Power," Ch.
28. 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.
30. "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, spirits, and humans, in essence, everything in nature in the area.
31. The woman has the physical body for raising a family.
32. "Necessary provisions" include food, building materials, hides for clothing, etc.
33. In the old days this pattern of marrying someone from another village tended to be a form of village exogamy, where one was expected or strongly encouraged to seek a mate from a village other than one's own. But this also tied in with the fact that the groups and small villages tended to be patrilocal settlements of patrilineal family members and their spouses. Thus, one generally needed to go to another village or group to find a marriageable partner outside of the patrilineage.
"Cousins" were traditionally 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" (when he is talking about traditional customs) 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 father's brother or your mother's sister. Parallel cousins in Chippewa are usually called by the same terms as "brother" and "sister." Therefore your biological sister is called "sister," and your father's brother's daughters are called by the same term ("sister"). Anyone you call "sister/brother" are thought to be, in effect, the same relation to you 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 in the past have been considered eligible marriage partners -- and, in some places, are the preferred/required spouses through a practice known to anthropologists as "cross-cousin" marriage. Among some Chippewa groups cross-cousin marriage was apparently common, even preferred. Whether or not cross-cousin marriage was practiced prehistorically has been a matter of considerable academic debate.
34. For information on Chippewa/Ojibwa 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.
35. 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 and/or your relatives. Not to care about incest regulations is a grave offense.
36. It is though that close relatives who marry would have physical and mental defects, and produce children with physical and mental defects.
37. 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. Following relations "way back" was done in terms of the dodaim (clan) groups.
38. Now-a-days, Paul is suggesting, some people forget the "position" of relationships between people, tracing these back through patrilineal lines for generations (including the dodaim relation, which is an extension of the patrilineage).
39. They called parallel cousins (for example, father's brother'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 could not marry a father's father's brother's child. In addition to extensions of the incest taboo to all parallel patrilineal relatives, the incest taboo was extended back "forever" -- "way back," as Paul describes it -- to include in the tabooed members of the same dodaim group.
40. When Paul talks about "Indians" or "the Indians," he generally means "the traditional Indians, including virtually all of the "full-bloods" and essentially all of Paul Buffalo's generation or older.
41. If you marry someone culturally defined as a relation others in the "tribe" will likely think you (literally) are "crazy."
42. 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."
43. It is said that in Chippewa the worst thing that you can call someone is a dog. Usually people will at the same time 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." Here the parallel with dogs is meant to refer to the lowest forms of behavior.
45. This segment was taped in 1966.
46. Mrs. Sherman calls Paul by a term ("cousin"/"sibling") meaning and signifying that they are of the same dodaim group and are thus not eligible to marry. See also footnote below.
47. Parallel cousins -- father's brother's children -- are called by the same term as "brother" and "sister" -- and that principle extends up through the dodaim group. Paul's dodaim was a loon; he is thus related to all people of the loon dodaim group, and cannot marry a woman of the loon dodaim as she is his "sister." See also footnote above.
48. Any "blood" intermarriage mixture is considered "any relation."
49. Here Paul is talking about biological sisters.
50. A "student" is anyone who studies nature, natural relationships, people, interpersonal relationships, etc. In English one might also say something like, "student of nature."
51. Dodaims, from which the word totem comes, were very important to Anishinabe peoples. 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); 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).
53. Your your "cousin-way-back" could also equate to "brother-way-back."
54. She belongs to the same dodaim, the same patri-clan (patri-sib) as Paul Buffalo, and is therefore his "brother," i.e., the same functionally as a "brother-sister" relationship. Paul Buffalo's dodaim (clan) is the loon, and anyone who is a loon clan member is considered a "brother" or "sister" -- or simply a sibling. Women who are of the loon dodaim are also "sisters," i.e., patri-sib mates, or siblings of the same patriclan. Clans are reckoned through the male line, but include females -- even though a female's own clan membership does not continue on to her children. A woman's child belongs to the dodaim of its father.
56. When Paul says "it's read up anyhow" he basically means that it's well-known in the Anishinabe oral traditions.
58. Paul is saying that "the whites" only restrict cousin marriage between first cousins, on both the father's and the mother's sides. In actuality, in the United States, many states actually allow first-cousin marriage under certain conditions; only about two dozen states absolutely prohibit the marriage between first cousins.
59. Individual actions were often though to affect the group. If an individual did something considered wrong, not only did it affect him or 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 in a group which might be affected by an individual's transgression. This is a forceful means of social control.
The "defect" referred to here is both a physical defect and a spiritual or moral one.
60. 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.
62. The system that Paul is describing here is known as the "phratry" descent syste wherein all of the dodaims (clans) are divided into three or more groups (for e.g., "birds," "animals living in water", "animals living on the ground," etc.). Phratrys are exogamous, meaning that people from one grouping of dodaims ("birds," for example) may not marry one another, that is, they may not marry within the group. Paul suggests, for e.g., someone from the loon dodaim -- a bird -- may not marry someone from the eagle dodaim -- a bird -- because they are of "the first file" relationship.
More common worldwide is the moiety kinship descent system, wherein all of the clans are divided into just two groups, and the two groups are exogamous -- that is a person from any clan of group A is not allowed to marry anyone from any other clan of group A. "Moiety" means "half" in French, and hence the name for the system with just two descent groupings (two halves). A phratry system is basically the same as a moiety, but with more than two groups. Early Anishinabe legends usually include five phratry groups: Loon, Bear, Fish, Crane, and Martin (names vary regionally).
The phratry system began to break down in northern Minnesota in the late nineteenth century with the advent of lumbering, and was no longer a prominent feature by the time Paul was of marriageable age, as one can tell from Paul's brief discussion.
Dodaims, however, remain powerful organizing elements in Paul's world, as one can tell from Paul's many discussions in this work. The total number of Ojibwa/Chippewa dodaims (clans) varied historically by regions (Michigan, Wisconsin, Ontario, Minnesota, Montana . . . ). Warren (1885) lists twenty-one; others list fewer, but generally at least twenty; some list as many as twenty-three dodaims.
63. Paul is here referring to other Indian tribes and groups, not individuals. "Totem poles" (like those found among the First Nations groups on the Pacific Coast and the American Indian groups of the Pacific Northwest in the United States) are not a feature of traditional Anishinabe culture, even though the word "totem" is derived from the word "dodaim."
64. Paul is saying that sometimes there are problems in a marriage because the husband and wife are related "by blood." See discussion above.
65. This can be physical and/or psychological ailments and pressure.
66. Using Indian medicine doctors. Cf.,Ch. 25, "'Self-Houses,'
Sweat Houses, and Bloodletting," Ch. 26, "Dreams and Visions," Ch. 27, "Power,"
67. The man is saying essentially, "I want you to treat those children like they were your own (biological) children." Keep in mind that in a patrilineage a woman's biological children are not part of her descent group (her dodaim group); her brother's children are the next generation in her descent group. For example, if her family (dodaim group) is the loon (like Paul's), her children will not belong to her dodaim group -- they will not be members of the loon dodaim group. Her biological children will be members of their father's dodaim group. So either way, with her new husband's biological children or with her own biological children, the new wife will be looking after children who are not members of her own dodaim "family." From one point of view -- looking at it from the point of view that "family" is the dodaim group -- the woman will always be a step-mother in her household . . . no matter what she does or who she marries. Related to this, in a patrilineage, when a couple separates, children are most likely to go with the parent who is in their same dodaim group (the father) than the spouse who is not a member of their dodaim group (the mother). See Paul's comments which follow.
68. An Indian in the old days, i.e., a traditional Indian; one following tradition.
69. One may have grandparents, great-grandparents, paternal uncles for men, or other relations (in the child's dodaim group, his patrilineage) that want to adopt (or take custody of) children that belong to their dodaim group.
70. In the old days the children generally stayed in the patrilineage (the dodaim group), thus the man's relatives would take care of his children. In a patrilineage system the biological mother of the child belongs to another patrilineage than her own children, and her family-oriented interests would be in taking care of her father's and brothers' children. See also footnote #67 above.
71. Your wife and her father and, usually, her mother, are in different patrilineages (dodaim groups) than you [male] and your children. Therefore, when the son of the husband is placed with a family of another patrilineage -- like the patrilineage of the child's own biological mother -- "you aren't sure of yourself," i.e., you aren't sure that they will act in the best interests of you/your son's "family" --- his patrilineage.
72. A good personality, a good nature, a good personal history of helping and caring for people, a good record of following traditional customs, etc.
73. Parents and older relatives.
74. Jealousy often plays an important role in the culture and is sometimes used, in part, as a social control mechanism. People more often, however, attempt to go out of their way not to do anything that might bring on jealousy than they to try to instigate for it.
75. 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.
76. 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.
77. The widows use the same medicines and the same beliefs as in other aspects of life and times of the year, and all of the medicines are in her "spirit bundle." Cf., Ch. 32, "Medicine Men/Medicine Women."
79. If the widow remarries, she will still keep the "spirit bundle," generally in the house, and as the need or desire arises, they will together use it, meditate with it, re-meditate it, consult it, talk to it, include it in prayers, or whatever, as long as they remain together as a couple. Presumably she would also keep the bundle even if she did not remarry. Paul's point here is that she did not need to get rid of the "spirit bundle" simply because she remarried, if she had properly observed the one-year mourning period after the death of her previous husband.
80. Her former brother(s)-in-law will prove and approve that she has been a good wife because she has mourned properly, and they will make sure that they make their approval known to her and publicly known in the community.
81. In a patrilineage a brother's children are a key part of a male's primary patrilineal family group, and therefore all of the members of the patrilineage have a vested interest in welfare of the man's children. When a brother marries his brother's widow, it also keeps the biological mother of the young clan (dodaim group) members resident in the patrilineal family group. So it would not be unusual for a brother-in-law to marry his brother's widow because her children are members of his patrilineage (his "family"), and not hers. This is known in anthropology as the levirate, and is a form of marriage often practiced in cultures with strong clan (dodaim) groups. Among Minnesota Chippewa/Ojibwa the levirate is not obligatory.
83. People thinking about you like that would be "bad enough" to deter you from taking a second wife, in addition to the practical day-to-day difficulties of actually living with and supporting two wives.
84. In the old days, after the relatively brief initial period of bride service (where a man lived temporarily with and worked for his wife's family), residence tended to be patrilocal. With patrilocal residence a couple went to live with the man's family, so if he was married to two sisters they automatically would (eventually) be resident in a village different from that of the wives' own patrilineal group (which is the village where the two wives grew up).
85. But it is reported in the literature that elsewhere, in the old days, a man might have two wives and that they each lived in a separate section of the same wiigiwaam. Cf., Ch. 17, "Winter Wood and Wiigwaams."
86. That is, people didn't think anything of it; they didn't pay much attention to it.
87. That is, your wife's sister or any potential second wife would still have the right to agree to marrying or not, the same as with the first wife and her patrilineal relatives. And to make the marriage "legal" you would still have to go through the same ceremonies. If the potential second wife you "selected" or "requested" turned you down, you would still have the "privilege" of trying for another, different, one.
88. These are sometimes known in the literature as "joking relationships." Sometimes joking with your brother-in-law is culturally required.
89.With a cross-cousin marriage practice your "sweetheart" is your cross-cousin (father's sister's child, or mother's brother's child) and therefore an eligible or preferred mate.
90. Who's in the boat or canoe.
92. To the welfare office.
93. He'd want to hook on to you with some remark of his own.
94. Brother-in-laws would often joke by saying something
absurd about the other. The more absurd, the better.
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