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Impearls: HIC 2.16: Marriage and the town

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Earthdate 2005-11-12

Marriage and the town   by A. L. Kroeber

The Yurok married where and whom they pleased, in the home village or outside, within their nation or abroad.  The only bar was to kindred; but the kin of persons connected by marriage were not considered kin.  The wife's daughter as well as her sister were regarded as suitable partners.  The smaller villages were so often composed wholly of the branches of one family that they practiced exogamy of necessity.  That such exogamy had not risen to native consciousness as something desirable in itself is shown by numerous endogamous marriages in the larger towns.  This point deserves particular consideration because the organization of the Athabascans of the Oregon coast, which seems to have been identical with that of the Yurok, has been misportrayed, simple villages — as ungentile as our country towns — being represented as patrilinear clans, and the mere rule against the marriage of kindred construed as clan exogamy.  The subjoined table illustrates the degree of endogamy at one of the larger Yurok towns, Weitspus, and the following examples the distance to which its inhabitants were ready to go for wives when they pleased.

Table: Some Marriages at Weitspus.

Table: Some Marriages at Weitspus.
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House 15 (fig. 2 2) belonged to the daughter of the former owner.  Her half-married husband is of a Karok father from Katimin and a Yurok woman of Ho'opeu.  Kewik of Nohtsku'm half-married into Ertlerger, but quarreled with his wife's family, and, moving across the river with her, built himself house 3 in Weitspus, whose site his grandson still owned.  The father of the owner of 9 had two wives: the first a Karok from Ashanamkarak, the second a Tolowa.  An old man in 10 traded sisters with a Wahsekw man.



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