Eastern Shoshone - Marriage and Family



Marriage. In the past, bride-service was common, especially through a young groom's living initially with his wife's parents. There used to be a high degree of polygyny, and Sibling exchange marriages were also probably common. According to Shimkin, however, in the period 1850-1930, only 3 cases of polygyny, 2 of sibling exchanges, and 3 of marriage with consanguineal kin were reported out of 239 marriages. These changes were likely due to Christian influence. Marriage was forbidden with any first or second cousin. Premarital sex relations were freely permitted and subject to no sanctions.

Inheritance. There was an absence of individual property rights in land or movable property, or of any rule of Inheritance governing the transmission of such rights.

Socialization. Infants and very young boys and girls were dependents undifferentiated by sex. They were rarely punished, but kept quiet through fears of monsters and enemies. Larger boys joined peer groups, with aggression being much encouraged. Adolescence for boys was not formally marked, and the search for supernatural power began at this time. Marriage and joining a military society connoted a man's Status. A girl would stay with her mother, helping in household chores, caring for younger siblings, and playing girls' games. Menarche required isolation in the family menstrual hut, avoidance of meat and of daytime sleeping, and the obligation to gather firewood. Shortly after menarche, a girl's Parents or, if they were dead, her older brother or maternal uncle, would arrange her marriage—usually to a good hunter, stable and reliable.

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