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This opportunity gave the men of the tribe a chance to assess the pool of available mates. Native American men serenaded the women they wished to attract with the wooing sounds of the love flute. Based upon the legend of a shy buffalo hunter who won the affection of a woman, this cedar flute is normally played solely for the purpose of courtship, and its distinct sound, as tender as a bird call, travels far and wide, alluring many to its hauntingly beautiful bellow.
Native American men also gave women and their families gifts as a way of strengthening the bond. Gift a piece of our handmade jewelry to the women in your life and let them know their connection is meaningful to you. Please follow and like us:. Among some contemporary American commentators, there is a view that there are only two genders: male and female. They viewed gender and sexuality as a continuum.
There was a recognition of the feminine and masculine in all people. There were in traditional societies male and female homosexuals and transvestites who played important spiritual and ceremonial roles. These individuals were seen as being an important part of the community.
Traditional Native American cultures tended to be egalitarian: all people were equal. This is one of the things that bothered many of the early Christian missionaries, particularly the Jesuits in New France, as they viewed marriage as a relationship in which the woman subjugated herself to the man. In Indian marriages, men and women were equals. Polygyny - the marriage of one man to more than one woman at the same time - was fairly common throughout North America.
In some cases, a man would marry sisters — a practice that anthropologists call sororal polygyny. In general, sisters tended to get along better than unrelated co-wives as sisters usually did not fight. Among many of the tribes, wife exchange was practiced. One man might become infatuated with the wife of another and propose an exchange. If this was agreeable, the two men would exchange wives from time to time.
Among the Lakota Sioux, for example, two men who have pledged devotion to each other may express this relationship by marrying sisters and by exchanging wives on certain occasions. Among the Pawnee, brothers sometimes shared wives. It was not uncommon for two or more brothers to set up a joint household, sharing their wives and their property.
Polyandry — the marriage of one woman to more than one man at the same time — was found among many of the tribes. This practice was often not recognized by Europeans, including many ethnographers, as it seemed alien to them. The Pawnee, for example, practiced a form of temporary polyandry. He would continue having sex with her until he married.
For a period of four or five years the young man, and perhaps his brothers as well, would be a junior husband for this woman, creating a temporary state of polyandry. Polyandry also occurred as a form of an anticipatory levirate. Among the Comanche, for example, when a man died his wife would become the wife of his brother.
Anticipating this practice, a man would allow his brother s to have sexual access to his wife. This was seen as symbolic of the brotherhood bond. In Indian cultures, marriage was neither religious nor civil.
This was the point when men could get a good look at the available women since the dance usually lasted for a couple days. As the Crane dance went on usually a young man would see a woman that did strike his fancy. Unlike our current dating customs, the native American dating customs required that the young man speak to his mother who then would speak to the mother of the girl he was interested in.
After the mothers have been spoken to the young man is told he is allowed to come to the lodge. Usually he waits until everyone is sleeping and he makes a light and finds the girl he wants. Waking her up he then uses the light to illuminate his own face so she can see who he is.
If she is happy with him she is to blow out his light and the next day he will be a part of the family. The Native American dating customs get a bit more complicated if the girl does not choose to blow out the light. If she does not blow it out then he will try to woo her more the next day. This part of the Native American dating custom is usually done with a special flute called a Courting flute.
The young man will play his flute until the woman he wants comes out to see him. Usually he will again go to her that night with his light in hopes that she will blow it out and accept him. While these Native American dating customs are very different they have a unique appeal to them. The family becomes more involved in the choice of a mate although the woman is given a choice.
The man would play this flute near his potential love interest's home. She had the option of coming outside, which indicated her interest in him or stay inside. If the woman didn't come out the man left and was forced to find another woman. Other tribes used a system where the interested man left deer meat or another type of meat at the woman's house. If she was interested, she used the meat to cook for him and if not, she left the food sitting outside.
The Cherokee used a ritual known as the Crane Dance during courtship. The unmarried women of the tribe wore clothes decorated with feathers and danced for the men. These dances usually lasted several days and gave the men of the tribe the chance to view the single women.
The men chose their suitor during this dance and told their mothers, who then went about setting up the dating process. Related Stories:. American Indian Art. Southwest Resources. Native American Indians. Indians Misc. American Indians.