Cree, Western Woods - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Marriages were arranged by parents between opposite-sex cross cousins. Marriage with parallel cousins, first or classificatory, was prohibited, as they were considered siblings. Arranged marriages ensured that the son-in-law would be a good hunter and provider. The levirate and sororate were practiced. Sororal polygyny was permitted and was an indication of the bride's parental approval. Bilateral cross-cousin marriage tended to establish or maintain cooperative relations between hunting groups, and the marriage of sibling pairs (two brothers to two sisters, or a brother and sister to a sister and brother) was considered exceptionally good. Some marriages were arranged with more distant groups, and with the advent of the fur trade, marriage of a daughter to an important fur trader was highly desirable. Following marriage, there was temporary matrilocal residence involving bride-service, until a child was born. The groom hunted for his parents-in-law and performed other services. After the birth of a child, residence was patrilocal. Divorce in the past was highly informal, but marriages are now performed in Roman Catholic or Anglican churches or by civil authorities and are subject to religious restraints and civil law.

Domestic Unit. The typical residential unit was an extended family, adjacent to another related unit.

Inheritance. Property was minimal and on the death of an individual was abandoned. Later, as material goods accumulated, survivors inherited appropriate items, but Canadian law is now applicable in the new village and urban context. Socialization. Children were raised permissively, and Control and discipline were instilled gradually. Mothers trained their daughters, and boys were gradually taught hunting and trapping skills by their fathers. A boy usually killed his first big game at about the age of fourteen, marking him a true hunter. Girls were secluded at first menses and regularly thereafter. These traditional practices are rapidly disappearing. In recent generations, many Cree children were sent to boarding schools, but now elementary and secondary schools are commonly found on the reserves, and some children go on to university or other postsecondary institutions.

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: