Menominee - Marriage and Family

Marriage. In aboriginal and early historic times marriages were arranged by kin groups and polygyny was practiced. A newly married couple usually lived with the husband's Parents. With the growing emphasis on mobility and smaller groups accompanying involvement in the fur trade, Monogamous marriages gradually became the norm.

Domestic Unit. The large extended family groups characteristic of the aboriginal and early historic Menominee were replaced during the fur trade period by small nomadic family hunting groups. In the 1950s Menominee were divided into approximately 550 households, most consisting of a nuclear family or an old couple with grandchildren or an unmarried daughter and her child.

Inheritance. Inheritance is bilateral. Sacred objects of the totem group are inherited from either the paternal or the maternal side.

Socialization. Traditionally, children were believed to be close to the supernatural through the event of birth and thus were considered extremely important. Infants were usually kept in cradle boards until the age of two or until they were able to walk and were nursed for as long as they would reach for the breast. Child training often took the form of story-telling, a common theme of which was constraint and self-control. Disciplining of children was left largely to the women. There was a distinct sanction against striking any child until he or she was eight years old. For punishment a child might be whipped about the legs, but never struck around the head, for it was believed that to do so would make the child dumb. Other punishments included throwing cold water in the child's face, scolding, or immersion in water. The favored form of coercion consisted of threats by reference to the owl or other creatures of the night. Many of these values and practices persisted in the 1950s among the traditional Menominee.

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