Cheyenne - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Marriage was a formal matter. Premarital sex was strictly prohibited and a girl's virginity was carefully guarded by her family. Because a young man postponed Marriage until he had horses and a respectable war record, Courtship often lasted for several years. The most respectable Marriages were arranged between families, although elopement took place. Until the pattern was interrupted by epidemic disease and warfare, marriage was forbidden to a relative of any degree. Most marriages were monogamous, but polygyny was permitted, often of the sororal type, with the levirate also practiced. Today there is still concern about the degree of relatedness between a couple wanting to marry. Traditionally, postmarital residence was uxorilocal. With the incorporation of the Dog Soldiers into the tribal circle, residence shifted in that portion of Cheyenne society to patrilocality, resulting in two residence patterns after 1860. Divorce could be initiated by either the husband or wife for mistreatment, adultery, or other marital transgressions. A man could publicly disgrace his wife by "throwing her away" at a public gathering.

Domestic Unit. The primary unit of cooperation and Subsistence was the vestoz, a residential extended family of related women and their conjugal families. Although the Nuclear family is the predominant pattern today, extended families still exist, often as an adaptation to the high unemployment rates, poverty, illegitimacy, and other socioEconomic factors associated with social disadvantage.

Inheritance. Some of a man's personal possessions were buried with him, but all the remaining property was given to nonrelatives. The widow and her children retained nothing. At funerals today, give-aways are still held before the body is buried and one full year after the death. Contemporary inheritance patterns are defined by legal stipulation and kinship.

Socialization. Children were generally raised permissively. Social ideals were taught through advice, counsel, and demonstration. Although physical punishment was rarely used, gossip, teasing, and sometimes ostracism acted as negative sanctions if the child misbehaved. Many of these mechanisms are used today, but physical punishment is also now used to correct undesirable behavior.

User Contributions:

charlee harris
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Jul 31, 2017 @ 4:04 am
I am a new study to the Native American as well as an author. I am working on a sequel which has the 2nd setting of Adobe Walls. What does sororal type and levirate practiced mean in speaking of the Cheyenne?
Thank you,
joseph perez
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Dec 4, 2017 @ 1:01 am
hi i would like some information please id like for my girlfriend who is of cheyenne descent to marry me but i want to do so according to her traditions i understand that my girlfriend is not virgin and i was wondering how to go about asking for her hand in marriage
Darren Collins
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Jul 23, 2020 @ 5:05 am
Can a Cheyenne woman be buried next to an American man’s first wife? Would a Cherokee man and a Cheyenne woman be able to marry? Would a Cherokee woman be allowed to be buried next to an american’s first wife? Thank you.

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