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CHAPTER V.


DOMESTIC LIFE.


COURTSHIP AND MARRIAGE CUSTOMS.


80. Age of puberty and marriage.—It is now customary for girls to be married at the age of fifteen, sixteen, or seventeen years among the Omahas, and in the Ponka tribe they generally take husbands as soon as they enter their fifteenth year. It was not so formerly; men waited till they were twenty-five or thirty, and the women till they were twenty years of age. Then, when a consort was spoken of they used to refer the matter to their friends, who discussed the characters of the parties, and advised accordingly, as they proved good (i. e., industrious and good-tempered, and having good kindred) or bad. Sometimes an Omaha girl is married at the age of fourteen or fifteen; but in such a case her husband waits about a year for the consummation of the marriage. When a girl matures rapidly she is generally married when she is sixteen; but those who are slow to mature marry when they reach seventeen. (See 97.)

Dougherty states (in Long's Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, vol. 1, p. 230) that "In the Omawhaw nation numbers of females are betrothed in marriage from their infancy. * * * Between the ages of nine and twelve years the young wife is occasionally an invited visit-ant at the lodge of her husband, in order that she may become familiarized with his company and his bed." But such is not the case among the Omahas according to La Flèche and Two Crows, who say that Dougherty referred to a Kansas custom.

81. Courtship.—The men court the women either directly or by proxy. The women used to weigh the matter well, but now they hasten to marry any man that they can get. Sometimes the girl told her kindred and obtained their advice. Parents do not force their daughters to marry against their will. Sometimes a girl refuses to marry the man, and the parents cannot compel her to take him. All that they can do is to give her advice: "Here is a good young man. We desire you to marry him." Or they may say to the people, "We have a single daughter, and it is our wish to get her married." Then the men go to court her. Should the parents think that the suitor is not apt to make her a good husband they return his presents. Suitors may curry favor with parents and kindred of the girl by making presents to them, but parents do not sell their daughters. The presents made for such a purpose are generally given by some old man who wishes to get a very young girl whom he is doubtful of winning. When a man courts the


  
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girl directly this is unnecessary. Then he gives what he pleases to her kindred, and sometimes they make presents to him.

When men reach the age of forty years without having courted any one the women generally dislike them, and refuse to listen to them. The only exception is when the suitor is beneficent. Such a man gets his father to call four old men, by whom he sends four horses to the lodge of the girl's father. If the latter consents and the girl be willing he consults his kindred, and sends his daughter with four horses from his own herd, to the lodge of the suitor's father. The latter often calls a feast, to which he invites the kindred of the girl, as well as those of his son. When the girl is sent away by her parents she is placed on one of the horses, which is led by an old man. There is not always a feast, and there is no regular marriage ceremony.

A man of twenty-five or thirty will court a girl for two or three years. Sometimes the girl pretends to be unwilling to marry him, just to try his love, but at last she usually consents.

Sometimes, when a youth sees a girl whom he loves, if she be willing, he says to her, "I will stand in that place. Please go thither at night." Then after her arrival he enjoys her, and subsequently asks her of her father in marriage. But it was different with a girl who had been petulant, one who had refused to listen to the suitor at first. He might be inclined to take his revenge. After lying with her, he might say, "As you struck me and hurt me, I will not marry you. Though you think much of yourself, I despise you." Then would she be sent away without winning him for her husband; and it was customary for the man to make songs about her. In these songs the woman's name was not mentioned unless she had been a "miⁿckeda," or dissolute woman.

One day in 1872, when the writer was on the Ponka Reservation in Dakota, he noticed several young men on horseback, who were waiting for a young girl to leave the Mission house. He learned that they were her suitors, and that they intended to run a race with her after they dismounted. Whoever could catch her would marry her; but she would take care not to let the wrong one catch her. La Flèche and Two Crows maintain that this is not a regular Ponka custom, and they are sure that the girl (a widow) must have been a "miⁿckeda."

82. Marriage by elopement.—Sometimes a man elopes with a woman. Her kindred have no cause for anger if the man takes the woman as his wife. Should a man get angry because his single daughter, sister, or niece had eloped, the other Omahas would talk about him, saying, "That man is angry on account of the elopement of his daughter!" They would ridicule him for his behavior. La Flèche knew of but one case, and that a recent one, in which a man showed anger on such an occasion. But if the woman had been taken from her husband by another man her kindred had a right to be angry. Whether the woman belongs to the same tribe or to another the man can elope with her if she consents. The Omahas cannot understand how marriage by cap-


  
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ture could take place, as the woman would be sure to alarm her people by her cries.

83. Customs subsequent to marriage.—Sometimes the kindred of the husband are assembled by his father, who addresses them, saying, "My son's wife misses her old home. Collect gifts, and let her take them to her kindred." Then the husband's kindred present to the wife horses, food, etc., and the husband's mother tells her daughter-in-law to take the gifts to her parents. When the husband and wife reach the lodge of the wife's parents the father calls his daughter's kindred to a feast and distributes the presents among them. By and by, perhaps a year later, the wife's kindred may assemble and tell the husband to take presents and food to his kindred, especially if the latter be poor. This custom is now obsolescent.

84. Polygamy.—The maximum number of wives that one man can have is three, e. g., the first wife, her aunt, and her sister or niece, if all be cousanguinities. Sometimes the three are not kindred.8

When a man wishes to take a second wife he always consults his first wife, reasoning thus with her: "I wish you to have less work to do, so I think of taking your sister, your aunt, or your brother's daughter for my wife. You can then have her to aid you with your work." Should the first wife refuse the man cannot marry the other woman. Generally no objection is offered, especially if the second woman be one of the kindred of the first wife.

Sometimes the wife will make the proposition to her husband, "I wish you to marry my brother's daughter, as she and I are one flesh." Instead of "brother's daughter," she may say her sister or her aunt.

The first wife is never deposed. She always retains the right to manage household affairs, and she controls the distribution of food, etc., giving to the other wives what she thinks they should receive.

85. If a man has a wife who is active and skillful at dressing hides, etc., and the other wives are lazy or unskillful, he leaves them with their parents or other kindred, and takes the former wife with him when he goes with the tribe on the buffalo hunt. Sometimes he will leave this wife awhile to visit one of his other wives. But Dougherty was misinformed when he was told that the skillful wife would be apt to show her jealousy by "knocking the dog over with a club, repulsing her own child, kicking the fire about, pulling the bed, etc." (see p. 232, Vol. I, Long's Expedition to the Rocky Mountains), for when a wife is jealous she scolds or strikes her husband or else she tries to hit the other woman.

Polyandry.—The Omahas say that this has not been practiced among them, nor do the Ponkas know this custom. But the terms of kinship seem to point to an age when it was practiced.

86. Permanence of marriage.—Among the Santee Dakotas, where mother-right prevails (?), a wife's mother can take her from the husband

8The writer knew a head chief that had four wives.
Back to reference




  
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and give her to another man. Among the C̸egiha, if the husband is kind, the mother-in-law never interferes. But when the husband is unkind the wife takes herself back, saying to him, "I have had you for my husband long enough; depart." Sometimes the father or elder brother of the woman says to the husband, "You have made her suffer; you shall not have her for a wife any longer." This they do when he has beaten her several times, or has been cruel in other ways. But sometimes the woman has married the man in spite of the warnings of her kindred, who have said to her, "He is maleficent; do not take him for your husband." When such a woman repents, and wishes to abandon her husband, her male kindred say to her, "Not so; still have him for your husband; remain with him always." Thus do they punish her for not having heeded their previous warnings. When they are satisfied with each other they always stay together; but should either one turn out bad, the other one always wishes to abandon the unworthy consort.

When parents separate, the children are sometimes taken by their mother, and sometimes by her mother or their father's mother. Should the husband be unwilling, the wife cannot take the children with her. Each consort can remarry. Sometimes one consort does not care whether the other one marries again or not; but occasionally the divorced wife or husband gets angry on hearing of the remarriage of the other.


DOMESTIC ETIQUETTE-BASHFULNESS.


87. A man does not speak to his wife's mother or grandmother; he and she are ashamed to speak to each other. But should his wife be absent he sometimes asks her mother for information, if there be no one present through whom he can inquire.

In former days it was always the rule for a man not to speak to his wife's parents or grandparents. He was obliged to converse with them through his wife or child, by addressing the latter and requesting him or her to ask the grandparent for the desired information. Then the grandparent used to tell the man's wife or child to say so and so to the man. In like manner a woman cannot speak directly to her husband's father under ordinary circumstances. They must resort to the medium of a third party, the woman's husband or child. But if the husband and child be absent, the woman or her father-in-law is obliged to make the necessary inquiry.

A woman never passes in front of her daughter's husband if she can avoid it. The son-in-law tries to avoid entering a place where there is no one but his mother-in-law. When at the Ponka mission, in Dakota, the writer noticed the Ponka chief, Standing Buffalo, one day when he entered the school-room. When he saw that his mother-in-law was


  
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seated there, he turned around very quickly, threw his blanket over his head, and went into another part of the house.

Another custom prevails, which Dougherty described thus: "If a person enters a dwelling in which his son-in-law is seated, the latter turns his back, and avails himself of the first opportunity to leave the premises. If a person visits his wife during her residence at the lodge of her father, the latter averts himself, and conceals his head with his robe, and his hospitality is extended circuitously by means of his daughter, by whom the pipe is transferred to her husband to smoke." He also said that if the mother-in-law wished to present her son-in-law with food, it was invariably handed to the daughter for him; and if the daughter should be absent, the mother-in-law placed the food on the ground, and retired from the lodge that he might take it up and eat it." (Long's Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, Vol. I, pp. 253, 254.) The Dakotas have this custom and call it "wiśtenkiyapi."


PREGNANCY.


88. The woman, when she perceives that the catamenia does not recur at the expected period, begins to reckon her pregnancy from the last time that she "dwelt alone." As the months pass, she says, "Miⁿ' gna bc̷iⁿ'," I am that number of months (with child). If she cannot tell the exact number of months, she asks her husband or some old man to count for her. At other times, it is the husband who asks the old man. They calculate from the last time that the woman "dwelt alone."

Dougherty says that he did not hear of any case of "longing, or of nausea of the stomach, during pregnancy."

89. Couvade, Foeticide, and Infanticide.—Couvade is not practiced among the C̸egiha. Foeticide is uncommon. About twenty-two years ago, Standing Hawk's wife became enceinte. He said to her, "It is bad for you to have a child. Kill it." She asked her mother for medicine. The mother made it, and gave it to her. The child was still-born. The daughter of Wackaⁿ-maⁿc̷iⁿ used to be very dissolute, and whenever she was pregnant she killed the child before birth. These are exceptional cases; for they are very fond of their children, and are anxious to have them. Infanticide is not known among them.

90. Accouchement.—The husband and his children go to another lodge, as no man must witness the birth. Only two or three old women attend to the patient. In some cases, if the patient be strong, she "takes" the child herself; but requires assistance subsequently. Should the woman continue in pain for two or three days without delivery, a doctor is sent for, and he comes with a medicine that is very bitter. He departs as soon as he has caused the patient to drink the medicine. There are about two or three Omahas who know this medicine, which is called Niaciⁿga makaⁿ, Human-being medicine. The writer saw one


  
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of these roots at the Kaw Agency, Indian Territory. It is used by the Kansas. The doctor never comes of his own accord. After having given this medicine two or three times without success, he says, "I have failed, send for some one else." Then another doctor comes, and tries his medicine. Very few Omaha girls die in child-bed.

After delivery the patient is bound tightly about the abdomen, to reduce the size, as is the custom among civilized nations. Then is she washed in cool water if it be summer time, but in tepid water if it be cold weather. She must bathe twice a day. Mr. Hamilton was told that "the flow of blood ceased then to a great extent, especially after a few days; seldom lasting beyond ten days." La Flèche said that the women do not tell about the cessation of the flow. When the woman is strong she may go to work on the following day; but if she be weak she may require a fortnight or three weeks for recovering her strength.

When the husband asks about the infant, and they reply "It is a boy," or "It is a girl," he is very glad. Sometimes the husband treats a girl infant better than a boy, saying, "She cannot get anything for herself, whereas a son can take care of himself, as he is strong." Mr. Hamilton says, "I have heard of cases of severe labor. Women act as midwives, and with some skill, removing the placenta when adhering to the uterus, and in the usual manner."

Soon after birth the child is washed all over, wrapped in clothes, which are bound loosely around it. About two or three days after birth the infant's father or grandfather gives it a name, which is not always a nikie name. (See the account of the ceremony in the ada gens, when a child is four days old, 65.) Sometimes it is put into the cradle or board in two or three days; sometimes in about a week.

Nursing.—Another woman serves as wet-nurse till the mother's breasts are full of milk. Mammary abscess is very rare.

91. Number of children.—In 1819–'20 Dougherty wrote thus: "Sterility, although it does occur, is not frequent, and seems to be mostly attributable to the husband, as is evinced by subsequent marriages of the squaw. The usual number of children may be stated at from four to six per family, but in some families there are ten or twelve. Of these the mother has often two at the breast simultaneously, of which one may be three years of age. At this age, however, and sometimes rather earlier, the child is weaned by the aid of ridicule, in which the parents are assisted by visitors." In 1882 La Flèche and Two Crows declared that there are many cases of barrenness. Children are not very numerous. While some women have seven, eight, nine, or even ten children, they are exceptional cases. And when a woman gives birth to so many, they do not always reach maturity. There are women who have never borne any children, and some men have never begotten any. One woman, who is of Blackfoot origin, is the wife of James Springer, an Omaha, and she has borne him twelve children; but no other woman has had as many.




  
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CHILDREN.


92. Diseases of children.—Summer complaint from teething is rare. Diarrhea, however, occurs frequently, even in children who walk, and when they are about four feet high. This may be accounted for as follows: their mothers' milk or other food disagrees with them. Dougherty found that during their first year the Omaha children suffered more from constipation than from any other complaint; and he said that this was relieved by soap suppositories. This is not the case now, according to La Flèche and Two Crows; and the writer never heard of its prevalence when he resided among the Ponkas and Omahas.

93. Adoption of children.—The Omaha idea of adoption differs from ours. A member of the same gens, or one who is a consanguinity cannot be adopted; he or she is received by a relation. Two examples of this were told to the writer: Gahige received Wacuce's eldest son when the father died, because the former had been the potential father of the youth, who succeeded Wacuce as custodian of the sacred pipes. Now Gahige keeps the pipes himself for his son. Aⁿpaⁿ-skă, of the Wejiⁿcte gens, gave his son, Biⁿze-tigc̷e, to his chief, Mahiⁿ-c̷iñge, to be his son and servant. Mahiⁿc̷iñge having received his kinsman, the latter has become the keeper of the treaty between the United States and the Omahas. This boy is about sixteen years of age.

Omaha adoption is called "cigic̷ĕ," to take a person instead of one's own child. This is done when the adopted person resembles the deceased child, grandchild, nephew, or niece, in one or more features. It takes place without any ceremony. An uncle by adoption has all the rights of a real uncle. For example, when Mr. La Flèche's daughter Susette wished to go to the Indian Territory to accept a situation as teacher, and had gained the consent of her parents, Two Crows interposed, being her uncle by adoption, and forbade her departure. (See 113 and 126.)

94. Clothing of children.—Children were dressed in skins like those of their parents, but they used to wear robe: made of the skins of the deer, antelope, or of buffalo calves. When the boys were very small, say, till they were about four years old, they used to run about in warm weather with nothing on but a small belt of cloth around the waist, according to Dougherty; and the writer has seen such boys going about entirely naked. Girls always wear clothing, even when small. When a boy was eight years old, he began to wear in winter leggings, moccasins, and a small robe.

95. Child life.—The girl was kept in a state of subjection to her mother, whom she was obliged to help when the latter was at work. When she was four or five years old, she was taught to go for wood, etc. When she was about eight years of age, she learned how to make up a pack, and began to carry a small pack on her back. If she was disobedient, she received a blow on the head or back from the hand of


  
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her mother. As she grew older, she learned how to cut wood, to cultivate corn, and other branches of an Indian woman's work. When a girl was about three feet high, she used to wear her hair tied up in four rolls, one on top of her head, one at the back, and one at each side. This lasted till she was about six years old. The girl manifested the most affectionate regard for her parents and other near kindred.

With a boy there was not so much strictness observed. He had more liberty allowed him; and at an early age he was furnished with a bow and blunt arrows, with which he practiced shooting at marks, then at birds. He had his sports as well as the girl, though it was not usual for many boys and girls to play together. If a boy played with girls (probably with those who were not his sisters), the Ponkas referred to him as a "minquga" or hermaphrodite. Both sexes were fond of making houses in the mud, hence the verb, ʇgaxe, to make lodges, to play games.

Joseph La Flèche used to punish his son, Frank, by tying him to a chair with a cord and saying to him, "If you break the cord I will strike you."

When a boy was seven or eight years old he was expected to undergo a fast for a single day. He had to ascend a bluff and remain there, crying to Wakanda to pity him and make him a great man. Dougherty said that the boy rubbed white clay over himself, and went to the bluff at sunrise. When the boy was about sixteen years of age he had to fast for two days in succession. This had to be without any fire, as well as without food and drink; hence, it was not practiced in the winter nor in the month of March. The period of fasting was prolonged to four days when the boy was from eighteen to twenty years of age. Some youths fasted in October; some fasted in the spring, after the breaking up of the ice on the Missouri River. The same youth might fast more than once in the course of the year. Some who fasted thought that Wakanda spoke to them.

Boys took part with their elders in the Hede-watci, when they danced, stripped of all clothing except the breech-cloth.


STANDING OF WOMEN IN SOCIETY.


96. The women had an equal standing in society, though their duties differed widely from what we imagine they should be. On cold days, when the husband knew that it was difficult for the woman to pursue her usual occupations, he was accustomed to go with her to cut wood, and he used to assist her in carrying it home. But on warm days the woman used to go alone for the wood. The women used to dress the hides at home, or at the tent in which she was staying when the people were traveling. When a woman was strong she hoed the ground and planted the corn; but if she was delicate or


  
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weak, her husband was willing to help her by hoeing with her. The woman did the work which she thought was hers to do. She always did her work of her own accord. The husband had his share of the labor, for the man was not accustomed to lead an idle life. Before the introduction of fire-arms the man had to depend on his bow and arrows for killing the buffaloes, deer, etc., and hunting was no easy task. The Indian never hunted game for sport.


CATAMENIA.


97. The sexual peculiarity was considered as "Wakan'daʇa'c̷icaⁿ," pertaining to Wakanda. In the myth of the Rabbit and the Black Bears, Mactciñge, the Rabbit, threw a piece of the Black Bear chief against his grandmother, who had offended him, thereby causing her to have the catamenia. From that time women have been so affected. Among the Omahas and Ponkas the woman makes a different fire for four days, dwelling in a small lodge, apart from the rest of the household, even in cold weather. She cooks and eats alone, telling no one of her sickness, not even her husband. Grown people do not fear her, but children are caused to fear the odor which she is said to give forth. If any eat with her they become sick in the chest, very lean, and their lips become parched in a circle about two inches in diameter. Their blood grows black. Children vomit. On the fourth or fifth day, she bathes herself, and washes her dishes, etc. Then she can return to the household. Another woman who is similarly affected can stay with her in the small lodge, if she knows the circumstances. During this period, the men will neither lie nor eat with the woman; and they will not use the same dish, bowl, and spoon. For more than ten years, and since they have come in closer contact with the white people, this custom of refusing to eat from the same dish, etc., has become obsolete. Dougherty stated that in the young Omaha female, catamenia and consequent capability for child-bearing, took place about the twelfth or thirteenth year, and the capacity to bear children seemed to cease about the fortieth year. This agrees in the main with what the writer has learned about the age of puberty ( 80) and the law of widows ( 98). La Flèche said that the change of life in a woman occurs perhaps at forty years of age, and sometimes a little beyond that age.


WIDOWS AND WIDOWERS.


98. Widows.—A widow was obliged to wait from four to seven years after the death of her husband before marrying again. This was done to show the proper respect to his memory, and also to enable her


  
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to wean her infant, if she had one by him, before she became enceinte by her next husband. When a woman disregarded this custom and married too soon, she was in danger of being punished by the kindred of the deceased husband. If they could catch her within a certain period, they had the right to strike her on the head with knives, and to draw the blood, but they could not inflict a fatal blow. Now, if widows are under forty years of age they can marry in two or three years after the death of the first husband; but if they are over forty years of age, they do not remarry.

99. Stepmothers.—Some are kind, others are cruel. But in the latter event there are certain remedies the husband may separate from his wife, or else some of the kindred of the children may take charge of them.

100. Widowers.—Men used to wait from four to seven years before they remarried; now they do not wait over one or two years. The kindred of the deceased wife used to take a man's ponies from him if he married too soon. Sometimes they became angry, and hit him; but if he waited a reasonable time, they had nothing to say. There is a similar custom among the Otos and Pawnees. Sometimes a man loved his wife so dearly that after her death he remained a widower a long time. At last some of the kindred of the deceased woman would say to one another, "See! this man has no one to sew his moccasins; seek a wife for him (among our women)." Then this would be done, and he would be induced to marry again.


RIGHTS OF PARENTS AND OTHERS.


101. Rights of parents and other kindred.—Parents had no right to put their children to death; nor could they force them to marry against their will. Mothers' brothers and brothers seem to have more authority than the father or mother in matters relating to a girl's welfare. They were consulted before she was bestowed in marriage, unless she eloped with her husband. A mother could punish a disobedient daughter when the latter was a child and refused to learn to work. Kindred had the right to avenge the death of one of their number.

102. c̷iq, or Refugees.—They have no special rights, as such; but they share the privileges of the people with whom they dwell, and with whom they sometimes intermarry. Omahas have joined the Ponka tribe, as in the ease of Maⁿtcu-sĭnde-c̷iñge, and Ponkas have been incorporated into the Omaha tribe, as in the cases of Jabe-skă, enicka, and Mr. La Flèche himself.

103. Isnu.—An isnu is an unmarried youth, or man who dwells in the lodge of one of his friends or kindred. He may be the kinsman of the husband or of the wife. He is also called a wamaⁿhe.




  
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Wamaⁿ'he and maⁿhe.—The owner of a lodge, whether a man or a woman, is the amaⁿhe, and the isnu is the wamaⁿhe, who has no lodge of his own, and is obliged to ask for shelter of some one who is more favored than himself. While the wamaⁿhe has shelter he is expected to do his share of the hunting of game, etc., just as all the other male members of the household do, and he must bring it in for the benefit of his host and the household. Sometimes the amaⁿhe gives a skin tent to the wamaⁿhe, who then goes elsewhere, as he has a lodge of his own.

Only those men are celibates who cannot get wives. There are no single women, as the demand is greater than the supply.


PERSONAL HABITS, POLITENESS, ETC.


104. Personal habits.—The Omahas generally bathe (hic̷) every day in warm weather, early in the morning and at night. Some who wish to do so bathe also at noon. "Jackson," a member of the Elk gens, bathes every day, even in winter. He breaks a hole in the ice on the Missouri River and bathes, or else he rubs snow over his body. In winter the Omahas heat water in a kettle and wash themselves (ʞigc̷ja). This occurs in some cases every week, but when a person is prevented by much work it is practiced once in two or three weeks. There are some who are not so particular about washing. One chief, Wackaⁿ-maⁿc̷iⁿ, was nicknamed "The man who does not wash his hands," and his wife was styled "The woman who does not comb her hair." Wackaⁿ-maⁿc̷iⁿ heard of this, and it shamed him into better habits. It was always the custom to brush and comb their hair, and the writer has a specimen, "qade-mi-ʞahe," such as served the Omahas of a former generation for both brush and comb. The Ponkas used to bathe in the Missouri every day. The Pawnees used to neglect this custom, but of late years they have observed it. La Flèche and Two Crows prefer the sweat-bath to all other ways of cleansing the body. They say that it is not a sacred rite, though some Indians pretend that it is such; and it is so described in the myths. Cedar twigs are still dropped on the hot stones to cause a perfume.

105. Politeness.—When friends or kindred have not met for about a month they say, on meeting, "Hau! kagha," Ho! younger brother, "Hau! negha," Ho! mother's brother, etc., calling each other by their respective kinship titles, if there be any, and then they shake hands. There are no other verbal salutations. Parents kiss their children, especially when they have been separated for any time, or when they are about to part. When the chief, Standing Grizzly Bear, met Peter Primeau, Maⁿtcu-hi-ⁿgti, and Cahiec̷a at Niobrara in January, 1881, he embraced them, and seemed to be very deeply affected. La Flèche and


  
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Two Crows did not know about this custom, which may have been borrowed by the Ponkas from the Dakotas.

When persons attend feasts they extend their hands and return thanks to the giver. So also when they receive presents. When favors are asked, as when the chiefs and brave men interpose to prevent the slaying of a murderer, each extends a hand with the palm towards the would-be avengers, or he may extend both hands, calling the people by kinship titles, with the hope of appeasing them. If a man receives a favor and does not manifest his gratitude, they exclaim, "Waj-c̷iñge haⁿ!"—He does not appreciate the gift! He has no manners! They apply the same expression to the master of a tent who does not show any desire to be hospitable to a visitor.

A person is never addressed by name, except when there are two or more present who are of the same kinship degree. Then they must be distinguished by their names. They seldom call a person by name when speaking about him. This rule is not observed when guests are invited to feasts. The criers call them by name. When men return from war the old men, who act as criers, halloo and recount the deeds of each warrior, whom they mention by name. After a battle between the Ponkas and Dakotas, in 1873, as the former were returning to the village after the repulse of the latter, Naⁿbe-c̷iʞu, of the Wajaje gens, stopped at the house of Maⁿtcu-ʇañga, who had distinguished himself in the fight. Naⁿbe-c̷iʞu gave a yell, and after leaping a short distance from the ground, he struck the door of the house with the blunt end of the spear, exclaiming "Maⁿtcu-ʇañga, you are a Wajaje!" In making presents, as after returning from war, the donor can mention the name of the donee.

People never mention the names of their parents or elders, of their iʇigaⁿ, iʞaⁿ, etc. A woman cannot mention her iʇinu's name; but if her isañga (younger brother) be small, she can call his name.

Mothers teach their children not pass in front of people, if they can avoid it. Young girls cannot speak to any man except he be a brother, father, mother's brother, or a grandfather, who is a consanguinity. Otherwise they would give rise to scandal. Girls can be more familiar with their mother's brother than with their own brothers. Even boys are more familiar with their mother's brother than with their own father, and they often play tricks on the former.

Politeness is shown by men to women. Men used to help women and children to alight from horses. When they had to ford streams, the men used to assist them, and sometimes they carried them across on their backs. Even if a man is not the woman's husband, he may offer to carry her over instead of letting her wade. One day, a young woman who was on her way to Decatur, Nebr., with her brother, wished to stop at a spring, as she was thirsty. The ground by the spring was muddy, and the woman would have soiled her clothing had she knelt. But just then Maxewac̷e rode up and jumped from his horse. He pulled up some


  
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grass and placed it on the ground, so that the woman might drink without soiling her dress. Such occurrences have been common.

106. Hospitality.—All who are present at meal-time receive shares of the food. Even if some who are not on friendly terms with the host happen to enter suddenly they partake. But only friends are invited to feasts. Should one arrive after all the food has been divided among the guests, the host gives part of his share to the new-comer, saying, "Take that." The new-comer never says, "Give it to me." Should a woman come the host gives her some of the uncooked food, and tells her to take it home and boil it. Sometimes the host sees several uninvited ones looking on. Then he tells his wife to boil some food for them. Or, if the wife was the first to notice their presence, she asks her husband's permission. He replies, "Yes, do it."

Here and there in the tribe are those who are stingy, and who do not show hospitality. Should an enemy appear in the lodge, and receive a mouthful of food or water, or put the pipe in his mouth, he cannot be injured by any member of the tribe, as he is bound for the time being by the ties of hospitality, and they are compelled to protect him, and send him to his home in safety. But they may kill him the next time that they meet him.

When a visitor enters a lodge to which he has not been invited (as to a feast), he passes to the right of the fire-place, and takes a seat at the back of the lodge opposite the door.

The master of the lodge may sit where he pleases; and the women have seats by the entrance. Sometimes there is an aged male kinsman staying at the lodge, and his place is on the right side of the fire-place near the entrance. (Frank La Flèche. Compare 112, as given by his father.)


MEALS, ETC.


107. Meals.—When the people were traveling in search of buffaloes, they generally had but two meals a day, one in the morning before they struck the tents, and one in the evening after they pitched the tents. But if they moved the camp early in the morning, as in the summer, they had three meals—breakfast, before the camp was moved; dinner, when they camped again; and supper, when they camped for the night. During the winter, they stopped their march early in the afternoon, and ate but one meal during the day. When the camp remained stationary, they sometimes had three meals a day, if the days were long. They ate ʇa (dried buffalo meat), ʇanuʞa (fresh meat), and wataⁿzi (corn), which satisfied their hunger. And they could go a long time without a meal. Soup was the only drink during meals. They drank water after meals, when they were thirsty. They washed the dishes in water, and rubbed them dry with twisted grass. The trader's story in Long's Expedition to


  
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the Rocky Mountains, Vol. I, pp. 322, 323, if true, relates to some other tribe. The average amount of meat at a meal for an adult was two pounds, but some ate three pounds. The maximum quantity was about four pounds.

108. During the sun-dance, the Ponkas pretended to go without food or drink for three days and nights; but near the sun-pole could be found a bulbous root, which was used by the dancers for satisfying hunger and thirst. This secret was told the writer by a man, an influential chief, who had taken part in the dance in former years. This dance is of Dakota origin, and is not practiced among the Omahas.

109. At the present day, the Omahas use wheat, flour, sugar, coffee, tea, bacon, and other kinds of provisions introduced by the white people. They have been familiar with wheat for the past forty years. Many subsist chiefly on corn, as they cannot afford to buy great quantities of the provisions which have been mentioned. But while they are fond of wheat bread, they cannot be induced to eat corn bread in any shape, and they never have their corn ground into meal. All try to have sugar and coffee three times a day, even if they are compelled to go without meat. Within the past twenty years they have found a substitute for tea. It is made of the leaves or roots of one of the two species of "ʇab-hi." One kind is called "naⁿ'pa-ʇañ'ga ʇab-hi," or "large cherry ʇab-hi"; but the species of which the tea is made is the ʇab-hi, which spreads out, resembling twigs. It grows on hills, and its large roots hinder the breaking of the prairie. The leaves, which are preferred for making the tea, resemble those of red cherry-trees, though they are smaller. When leaves cannot be obtained, they boil chips of the roots, which makes the water very red. The taste resembles that of the Chinese tea. (See 177.)

110. Cannibalism.—Cannibalism is not practiced among the Omahas and Ponkas, and it has been of rare occurrence among the Iowas. Mr. Hamilton says: "I have heard of an old Iowa chief who roasted and ate the ribs of an Osage killed in war; also of some one who bit the heart of a Pawnee, but this was evidently done for the purpose of winning a reputation for bravery."

111. Feasts.—See 81, 83, 106, 119, 124, 130, 143, 151, 187–8, 195–6, 217, 219, 246, 249–50, 274, and 289.

During the buffalo hunt and just before starting on it the only gens that invited guests to feasts was the Hañga. And whenever any important matters, such as the ceremonies connected with planting corn, required deliberation, it was the duty of the Hañga chief to prepare a feast and invite the chiefs and other guests. (See 18, 130.) On ordinary occasions, any one can have a feast. (See 246.) Then the principal guest sits at the back of the lodge, opposite the door, on the right of which are the seats of the wagc̷a, the host's seat being on the left of the entrance. As the guests enter they pass to the left and around the circle, those coming first taking seats next the wagc̷a, and


  
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the last ones arriving finding places near the host. Two young men who take out the meat, etc., from the kettles, have no fixed places for sitting.

They give feasts to get horses and other presents, to win a reputation for generosity, and perhaps an election to the chieftainship; also for social and other purposes.

The Mandan feast.—The following is an account of a feast given by the Mandan dancing society : "When the food has been prepared the crier or herald calls for those to come to the feast who take part in the dance. To bad men he says, 'Do not come to the feast at which I am going to eat,' and they stay away. Should the guests be slow in coming, the last one who arrives is punished. He is compelled to eat a large quantity of food, 6, 8, or 10 pounds. The others sit waiting for him to eat, all that has been placed before him, and as they wait they shake the rattles of deer-claws and beat the drum. This is not a sacred rite, but an amusement. If the man finds that he cannot eat all in his bowl, he looks around the circle and finds some one to whom he gives a blanket, shirt, gun, or a pair of leggings, with the rest of the food saying, 'Friend, help me (by eating this).' Should the second man fail to eat all, he in turn must make a present to a third man, and induce him to finish the contents of the bowl. Sometimes horses are given as presents. Should a man come without an invitation, just to look on, and enter the lodge of his own accord, he must give presents to several of the guests, and depart without joining in the feast. When one smokes, he extends the pipe to another saying, 'Smoke.' The second man smokes without taking hold of the pipe. Should he forget and take hold of it, all the rest give the scalp-yell, and then he is obliged to make a present to some one present who is not one of his kindred. Should one of the men make a mistake in singing, or should he not know how to sing correctly, as he joins the rest, they give the scalp-yell, and he is compelled to make a present to some one who is not one of his kindred. If one of the guests lets fall anything by accident, he forfeits it and cannot take it up. Any one else can appropriate it. While at this feast no one gets angry; all must keep in a good humor. None but old men or those in the prime of life belong to this society."

Sometimes the guests danced while they were eating. All wore deers' tail head-dresses, and carried rattles of deers' claws on their arms. One drum was used. There was no fixed number of singers; generally there were six. Each one danced as he stood in his place, instead of moving around the lodge. There was no special ornamentation of the face and body with paint. All wore good clothing. The Omahas danced this Mandan dance after the death of Logan Fontenelle.

Those who boil sacred food, as for the war-path, pour some of the soup outside the lodge, as an offering for the ghosts.

112. Sleeping customs.—They sleep when sleepy, chiefly at night. There are no sacred rites connected with sleeping. Adults occupy that part of the lodge next to the door, having their beds on each side of it.


  
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(See 106.) Children have their beds at the back of the lodge, opposite the entrance. When there are many children and few adults, the former occupy most of the circle.

Each member of the household pushes the sticks of wood together ("abadaⁿ") towards the center of the fire, as the ends burn off. It is not the special work of the old women or men. Nor are the aged women expected to sit at the door and drive out the dogs. Any one may drive them from the lodge, except in cold weather, when they are allowed to remain inside.

113. Charities.—The word for generous is "wacce," meaning also "to be brave." This is apparently the primary meaning, as a generous man is addressed as one who does not fear poverty. He is regarded as the equal of the man who fears no enemy. Generosity cannot be exercised toward kindred, who have a natural right to our assistance. All who wish to become great men are advised by their kindred to be kind to the poor and aged, and to invite guests to feasts. When one sees a poor man or woman, he should make presents, such as goods or a horse, to the unfortunate being. Thus can he gain the goodwill of Wakanda, as well as that of his own people. When the Omahas had plenty of corn, and the Ponkas or Pawnees had very little, the former used to share their abundance with the latter. And so when the Omahas were unfortunate with their crops, they went on several occasions to the Pawnees, who gave them a supply. This was customary among these and other neighboring tribes.

Presents must also be made to visitors, members of other tribes. To neglect this was regarded as a gross breach of good manners. (See 292.)

Prior to the advent of the white man, the Omahas had a custom, which was told the writer by Frank La Flèche. When one man wished to favor another by enabling him to be generous, he gave him horses, which the latter, in turn, gave away, entitling him to have his ears pierced as a token of his generosity. The act of the first man was known as "niʇa gbaqc̷ukc̷ĕ," causing another man to have his ears pierced.

114. Old age.—Old age among the Omahas does not encounter all the difficulties related by Dougherty (Long, I, pp. 256, 257). Old men do not work. They sometimes go after the horses, or take them to water, but the rest of the time they sit and smoke, or relate incidents of their youthful days, and occasionally they tell myths for the amusement of those around them. Old women throw away superfluous ashes, pound corn or dried meat, mend and dry moccasins, etc. Sometimes they used to bring a bundle of sticks for the fire, but that is now done by the men in their wagons.

The Omahas and Ponkas never abandoned the infirm aged people on the prairie. They left them at home, where they could remain till the return of the hunting party. They were provided with a shelter among the trees, food, water, and fire. They watched the corn-fields, and


  
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when their provisions gave out, they could gather the ears of corn, and procure some of the dried pumpkins and ʇa (dried meat) that had been buried in caches by the people. They were not left for a long time, generally for but a month or two. The Indians were afraid to abandon (waaⁿ'c̷a) their aged people, lest Wakanda should punish them when they were away from home. They always placed them (ic̷aⁿ'wac̷ĕ) near their village, where they made their home during the winter.

They do not grow gray early, though Mr. Hamilton saw some children that were gray. But gray hairs are of such rare occurrence that an Omaha woman who has them is called "Gray Hair." When any one has white hair it is regarded as a token that he or she has violated the taboo of the gens, as when an Ictasanda or Wajaje man should touch a snake or smell its odor.

115. Preparation for a journey.—When a man is about to start on a journey he gets his wife to prepare moccasins and food for him. Then he goes alone to a bluff, and prays to Wakanda to grant him a joyful and stout heart as well as success. (See 195.)