Once again I will remind you to leave behind English and leave behind those ways of white man, especially Christian white man. You must do this because there will be nudity seen on some following pages. If you are uncomfortable with nudity, you are not and cannot be an American Indian. If so, leave now, go away, go to Iran where a woman displaying so much as the flesh of her toes will have her stoned to death. If you are comfortable with nudity, stick around and learn, there is lots to learn and you will be a better person for this.
Blood relationships for almost all American Indians, almost all not all, are rather quirky. You need to know most, perhaps almost all tribes, are matriarchal in nature. Women are the most revered, the most respected and the most loved. Children are next. Men are last. This is not to suggest women are in charge, we are not. We have our chiefs, we have our tribal councils, and most often those folks are men. Sometimes, though, a woman might be chief or might be a prominent member of a tribal council. You need to understand this notion of "hunter - gatherer" to appreciate our clan, tribal and nation structure. This applies mostly to clan and tribe.
A clan is an equal to an Anglo family. A clan is your typical parents and children and may include sisters, brothers and other immediate family members such as grandparents. A clan is responsible first for survival of family then, secondly, responsible for survival of a tribe. There is a lot of crossover. Almost all we do is for survival of our tribe but when there are threatening times, a clan comes first. Within a clan there are hunters - men, and there are gatherers - women. Hunters range out afield to literally hunt, such as hunt for rabbit, squirrel, deer, buffalo, whatever game is needed for survival. A hunt may range out many days travel, may be far from home. A gatherer range out afield but stay close to home, typically no more than a half day journey. A gatherer seeks out vegetables, fruit, berries and medicinal plants. Gatherers also tend to children which is why women stay close to home; to afford protection for children.
Hunters, men, are in charge of day-to-day life and seasonal life. Men decide where are good hunting grounds and will move a clan or tribe accordingly. Men have expertise at providing meat whether elk or fish. Men also defend a clan or a tribe. Gatherers, women, are in charge of raising and teaching children along with setting ethical and moral behaviors for all. Women also decide a spiritual direction for a tribe. Men are "brute force" and women are "moral force".
However, tribes are inherently matriarchal because we women are "life givers". Without women, a tribe would die out within one generation. This is simple to understand, we women make babies. Life itself is most precious to Indians and women are life givers. We women are afforded the highest esteem because we represent a tribe's future. Women are, in essence, treated like precious spirits or minor goddesses if you like.
Within most tribes, like Choctaw, bloodline is determined by a mother's side of a family. Grandmother, mother and daughter, they determine to whose bloodline you belong going back generations beyond memory. A father determines family name heritage, the married family name line. A woman can marry into a another clan and usually, almost always, does. She brings to this other clan her bloodline. A man can marry into a different clan and he brings to this clam a family name line. Blood is the mother's, name is the father's.
Who marries whom is critically important in our language usage. We have words for a family you marry into, and we have words for a family who marries into your family. Taha, me, marries into Billyray's family. I must use certain words when I address his clan members. Billyray marries into Taha's family, he must use certain words when he addresses my clan members. This circles back to a mother being bloodline and a father being name line. I must use words which mean "name line" when I talk about my husband's family. He must use words which mean "blood line" when he talks about my family. With this quirky knowledge in your pea brain, you will now understand why I present different words for a seemingly same relationship. In some ways, this is like your Anglo mother and your Anglo mother-in-law who are the worst!
Another notion which sorts Indians from Anglos is we traditional Indians do not have civil laws related to marriage, we simply choose a mate and we bond for life. There is no "in-law" thing but this does not mean an Indian boy will not suffer a "mother-in-law" who are the worst in our culture just like an Anglo culture! Yes, we have cermonies related to marriage, we celebrate this, but our celebration is about a new clan beginning and new life to come.
Marriage is often how a new clan begins but not always. A wife might become a member of her husband's clan or he might become a member of her clan, either way they, a married couple, will reside in a certain clan tepee or tepee group. When a clan is large, this allows for splitting off through marriage which allows a new clan to begin. Over many generations this new clan could become a new tribe. A married couple, usually through a couple of generations, may elect to move to a distant place and this begins a new tribe. This is why there are thousands of tribes across the Americas. We usually associate those tribes by language or more specific, origin of language. A native tongue, a "variety" of native tongue is an excellent method to trace a tribe's origins.
Choctaw present an excellent example of tracing a tribe through language origination. Choctaw began thousands of years back in the southeast, mostly today's Louisiana, Georgia, Arkansas, east Texas and especially Mississippi. A result of the genocide and the tragic "Trail Of Tears" is splitting Choctaw into two distinct tribes. This also happened to Cherokee and other tribes who also walked and died upon the Trail Of Tears. Those Choctaw who refused a death march, Trail Of Tears, at the hands of Christians, those who stayed behind in Mississippi speak primarily LongTown Choctaw. Those of us who ended up in Oklahoma, those ancestors of mine who survived this deliberate Christian slaughter along the way, today speak primarily SixTown Choctaw which is my tongue. We are not truly two tribes, we are all Choctaw, Mississippi and Oklahoma, but our tongues are slightly different. Think of this as two very large clans belonging to the same tribe, Choctaw. LongTown tongue and SixTown tongue are compatible, we understand each other just fine. However, there are differences which sometimes creates confusion, but not for long.
LongTown speakers who visit these pages probably think me crazy and illiterate. I am crazy, you should know this by my name, but I am far from illiterate. LongTown is a regional dialect of Chahta anumpa just as SixTown is a regional dialect of Choctaw. Both dialects are Choctaw but there are minor differences.
Dialects like those have physical origins. There are zillions of mosquitoes in Florida swamps. Floridians do not like mosquitoes so a hero is invented, mosquito hawks! Over in Texas this is common to see a dragonfly sitting on the nose of a snake, especially rattlesnakes and sidewinders, cottonmouths in Oklahoma. We believe those dragonflies to be "doctoring" those snakes so snake doctors! Out in California, this is disgusting. This is a state loaded with sissy boys, like in West L.A. and San Francisco, sissy boys who like dressing up like girls. Those sissy boys slip on their bras, panties, skirts and blouses, admire themselves in mirrors, clap their hands like girls do, then exclaim in choir boy voices, "Look at us! We are delightfully delicious damselflies!" Annoying, really annoys me. Those boys should take up rodeo riding to get themselves straightened out and pointing at the right gender, my gender.
To review and to close before moving on, you have learned American Indian tribes are often matriarchal in nature. I discuss hunters and gatherers and roles each plays. There are notes about bloodline and name lines. You read about women being most revered as life givers. Most important is this topic of regional dialects and how words can vary by region which plays an important part in speaking Choctaw.
A warning is given about nudity. I will provide another warning. Some tribes practice polygamy which is not common but is acceptable when a man takes multiple wives. This is part of survival but today this survival method is not much needed. My husband enjoys three wives and we certainly enjoy him. Over our decades our girl enjoys three mothers. Family life could not be better nor more healthy. This helped us escape poverty and, today, enjoy wealth. Be prepared to have your moral values questioned in coming lessons, especially you anal retentive Christians!
We are traditional American Indians. We do not live nor think like you much to our good fortune.
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