Jicarilla - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Young women were eligible for marriage after reaching puberty and young men when they proved themselves capable of supporting a family. In arranging a marriage, the man was required to obtain the permission of the parents of his prospective bride, and it was completed when a dowry was offered and gifts were exchanged. Marriages were usually monogamous, though polygyny was practiced on a limited basis with the sister or cousin of the first wife as a preferred second mate. Postmarital residence was matrilocal. Divorce was common and second marriages were allowed. When a spouse died the survivor could marry again only after a period of mourning and after proper purification rituals were performed. In such cases, levirate and sororate marriages were preferred. A widower was considered unlucky and could remarry only after a temporary union with a woman whom he was not permitted to wed. The temporary union lasted less than a year and was believed to bring the widower back from his state of ill fortune.

Domestic Unit. The basic unit of Jicarilla society was the extended family consisting of parents, their unmarried Children, and their married daughters and their husbands and children. Within the extended family each nuclear family unit occupied a separate household. Among modern Jicarilla the nuclear family has replaced the extended family as the basic social unit.

Inheritance. Property was inherited, but not according to any specific rules.

Socialization. Grandparents, especially on the maternal side, played an important role in the training of the young. Boys' training for hunting began in childhood when they were taught the use of the bow and arrow and the techniques of trapping, calling animals, and reading animal signs. At about age twelve they were taken on their first hunt and, if successful, were initiated into the fraternity of hunters and taught the rules and rituals of successful hunting. For girls, upon reaching puberty an adolescent rite was held in which the origins of the Jicarilla and the traits each woman should personify were revealed to them in prayers and songs related by Elderly men. The purpose of the rite was to ensure initiates a long and fruitful life.

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