Dakota Sioux Indian Marriage
There are two kinds of marriages among the Dakota Sioux, buying a wife and stealing one. The latter answers to our runaway matches, and in some respects the former is the ditto of one conducted as it ought to be among ourselves. So after all, I suppose, Indian marriages are much like white people's.
But among the Dakota Sioux it is an understood thing that, when the young people run away, they are to be forgiven at any time they choose to return, if it should be the next day, or six months afterwards. This saves a world of trouble. It prevents the necessity of the father looking daggers at the son-in-law, and then loving him violently; the mother is spared the trial of telling her daughter that she forgives her though she has broken her heart; and, what is still better, there is not the slightest occasion whatever for the bride to say she is wretched, for having done what she certainly would do over again to-morrow, were it undone. Many photos and images of the Dakota Sioux
So that it is easy to understand why the Dakota Sioux have the advantage of us in runaway matches, or as they say in "stealing a wife;" for it is the same thing, only more honestly stated.
When a young man is unable to purchase the girl he loves best, or if her parents are unwilling she should marry him, if he have gained the heart of the maiden he is safe. They appoint a time and place to meet; take whatever will be necessary for their journey; that is, the man takes his gun and powder and shot, and the girl her knife and wooden bowl to eat and drink out of; and these she intends to hide in her blanket. Sometimes they merely go to the next village to return the next day. But if they fancy a bridal tour, away they go several hundred miles with the grass for their pillow, the canopy of heaven for their curtains, and the bright stars to light and watch over them. When they return home, the bride goes at once to chopping wood, and the groom to smoking, without the least form or parade.
Sometimes a young girl dare not run away; for she has a miserly father or mother who may not like her lover because he had not enough to give them for her; and she knows they will persecute her and perhaps shoot her husband. But this does not happen often. Just as, once in a hundred years in a Christian land, if a girl will run away with a young man, her parents run after her, and in spite of religion and common sense bring her back, have her divorced, and then in either case the parties must, as a matter of course, be very miserable.
But the marriage that we are about to witness, is a "marriage in high life" among the Dakotas, and the bride is regularly bought, as often occurs with us. Native American Indian Women Photos
"Walking Wind" is not pretty; even the Dahcotahs, who are far from being connoisseurs in beauty do not consider her pretty. She is, however, tall and well made, and her feet and hands (as is always the case with the Dakota women) are small. She has a quantity of jet-black hair, that she braids with a great deal of care. Her eyes are very black, but small, and her dark complexion is relieved by more red than is usually seen in the cheeks of the daughters of her race. Her teeth are very fine, as everybody knows—for she is always laughing, and her laugh is perfect music.
Then Walking Wind is, generally speaking, so good tempered. She was never known to be very angry but once, when Harpstenah told her she was in love with "The War Club;" she threw the girl down and tore half the hair out of her head. What made it seem very strange was, that she was over head and ears in love with "The War Club" at that very time; but she did not choose anybody should know it.
War Club was a flirt—yes, a male coquette—and he had broken the hearts of half the girls in the band. Besides being a flirt, he was a fop. He would plait his hair and put vermilion on his cheeks; and, after seeing that his leggins were properly arranged, he would put the war eagle feathers in his head, and folding his blanket round him, would walk about the village, or attitudinize with all the airs of a Broadway dandy. War Club was a great warrior too, for on his blanket was marked the Red Hand, which showed he had killed his worst enemy—for it was his father's enemy, and he had hung the scalp up at his father's grave. Besides, he was a great hunter, which most of the Dakotas are.
No one, then, could for a moment doubt the pretensions of War Club, or that all the girls of the village should fall in love with him; and he, like a downright flirt, was naturally very cold and cruel to the poor creatures who loved him so much.
Walking Wind, besides possessing many other accomplishments, such as tanning deer-skin, making mocassins, &c., was a capital shot. On one occasion, when the young warriors were shooting at a mark, Walking Wind was pronounced the best shot among them, and the War Club was quite subdued. He could bear everything else; but when Walking Wind beat him shooting—why—the point was settled; he must fall in love with her, and, as a natural consequence, marry her.
Walking Wind was not so easily won. She had been tormented so long herself, that she was in duty bound to pay back in the same coin. It was a Duncan Gray affair—only reversed. At last she yielded; her lover gave her so many trinkets. True, they were brass and tin; but Dakota maidens cannot sigh for pearls and diamonds, for they never even heard of them; and the philosophy of the thing is just the same, since everybody is outdone by somebody. Besides, her lover played the flute all night long near her father's wigwam, and, not to speak of the pity that she felt for him, Walking Wind was confident she never could sleep until that flute stopped playing, which she knew would be as soon as they were married. For all the world knows that no husband, either white or copper-colored, ever troubles himself to pay any attention of that sort to his wife, however devotedly romantic he may have been before marriage.
Sometimes the Dakota lover buys his wife without her consent; but the War Club was more honorable than that: he loved Walking Wind, and he wanted her to love him.
When all was settled between the young people, War Club told his parents that he wanted to marry. The old people were glad to hear it, for they like their ancient and honorable names and houses to be kept up, just as well as lords and dukes do; so they collected everything they owned for the purpose of buying Walking Wind. Guns and blankets, powder and shot, knives and trinkets, were in requisition instead of title-deeds and settlements. So, when all was ready, War Club put the presents on a horse, and carried them to the door of Walking Wind's wigwam.
He does not ask for the girl, however, as this would not be Dahcotah etiquette. He lays the presents on the ground and has a consultation, or, as the Indians say, a "talk" with the parents, concluding by asking them to give him Walking Wind for his wife.
And, what is worthy to be noticed here is, that, after having gone to so much trouble to ask a question, he never for a moment waits for an answer, but turns round, horse and all, and goes back to his wigwam.
The parents then consult for a day or two, although they from the first moment have made up their minds as to what they are going to do. In due time the presents are taken into the wigwam, which signifies to the lover that he is a happy man. And on the next day Walking Wind is to be a bride.