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The Hidatsa





Our chief authority for the names of the Hidatsa gentes is Morgan's
Ancient Society. Dr Washington Matthews could have furnished a corrected
list from his own notes had they not unfortunately been destroyed by fire.
All that can now be done is to give Morgan's list, using his system of
spelling:

1. Knife, Mit-che-ro'-ka.

2. Water, Min-ne pae'-ta.

3. Lodge, Bae-ho-hae'-ta.

4. Prairie chicken, Scech-ka-be-ruh-pae'-ka (Tsi-tska' do-hpa'-ka of
Matthews; Tsi-tska' dco-qpa'-ka in the Bureau alphabet).

5. Hill people, E-tish-sho'-ka.

6. Unknown animal, Ah-nah-ha-nae'-me-te.

7. Bonnet, E-ku'-pae-be-ka.

The Hidatsa have been studied by Prince Maximilian (1833), Hayden, and
Matthews, the work of the last writer(8) being the latest one treating of
them; and from it the following is taken:

Marriage among the Hidatsa is usually made formal by the distribution of
gifts on the part of the man to the woman's kindred. Afterward presents of
equal value are commonly returned by the wife's relations, if they have
the means of so doing and are satisfied with the conduct of the husband.
Some travelers have represented that the marriage by purchase among the
Indians is a mere sale of the woman to the highest bidder, whose slave she
becomes. Matthews regards this a misrepresentation so far as it concerns
the Hidatsa, the wedding gift being a pledge to the parents for the proper
treatment of their daughter, as well as an evidence of the wealth of the
suitor and his kindred. Matthews has known many cases where large marriage
presents were refused from one person, and gifts of much less value
accepted from another, simply because the girl showed a preference for the
poorer lover. Marriages by elopement are considered undignified, and
different terms are applied to a marriage by elopement and one by parental
consent. Polygamy is practiced, but usually with certain restrictions. The
husband of the eldest of several sisters has a claim to each of the others
as she grows up, and in most cases the man takes such a potential wife
unless she form another attachment. A man usually marries his brother's
widow, unless she object, and he may adopt the orphans as his own
children. Divorce is easily effected, but is rare among the better class
of people in the tribe. The unions of such people often last for life; but
among persons of a different character divorces are common. Their social
discipline is not very severe. Punishments by law, administered by the
soldier band, are only for serious offenses against the regulations of
the camp. He who simply violates social customs in the tribe often
subjects himself to no worse punishment than an occasional sneer or
taunting remark; but for grave transgressions he may lose the regard of
his friends. With the Hidatsa, as with other western tribes, it is
improper for a man to hold a direct conversation with his mother-in-law;
but this custom seems to be falling into disuse.

The kinship system of the Hidatsa does not differ materially from that of
any of the cognate tribes. When they wish to distinguish between the
actual father and a father's real or potential brothers, or between the
actual mother and the mother's real or potential sisters, they use the
adjective ka'ti (ka{~LATIN SMALL LETTER TURNED H~}t{~LATIN SMALL LETTER OPEN O~}i), real, true, after the kinship term when the
actual parent is meant.





Next: The Crow Or Absaroka

Previous: The Mandan



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