Kiowa - Marriage and Family



Marriage. Bands were, in effect, exogamous, since Marriage was prohibited to all classed as kin. Polygyny (usually sororal) was practiced; important chiefs often had several wives. The levirate was common, but not obligatory. Horses were the usual marriage gift, the number signifying the wealth and status of the groom. Divorce was common: a wife's kin might, with cause, remove her from the husband's household, or a marriage could end with absconding or elopement, followed by payment of compensation.

Domestic Unit. Residence was normally patrilocal; as one exception, a chief would give away a daughter to a promising young man, who then joined the camp of his father-in-law.

Inheritance. At death, personal possessions were destroyed. Horses (the only important form of private property) would normally pass from a man to his brother or son. Inheritance of a position—for example, as band chief or Taime (priest)—was preferably patrilineal but, in practice, was selective within the kindred. Custodianship of a medicine bundle might ideally go to a son, but in known cases this position passed to a variety of relations, male and female; a willingness to comply with the rigid demands of the position could influence the decision.

Socialization. Small children were, by all accounts, treated with affection and indulgence. The tie between siblings was emphasized; the brother-sister relationship took precedence over that of husband and wife. A favored child, male or female, was raised in status by a give-away of horses and property, and received special care and privileges. At around six years, all boys became members of the Rabbit Society and were instructed as a group in horsemanship and other skills; in adolescence they joined the adult military societies. Bravery, restraint, wisdom, and generosity were qualities admired in men and, to a degree, in women as well.


User Contributions:

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Sep 19, 2011 @ 5:17 pm
Thank you very much for this information. It definitely helped me in my history project.
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Aaron Ellsworth
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Oct 16, 2016 @ 8:20 pm
Hi. Did the Kiowa tribe commonly use wedding blankets in the 1820's? Did they marry other tribes such as the Comanche? Thanks. Aaron

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