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The Culture of the Luiseño Indians, by Philip Stedman Sparkman, [1908], at


Until recently a girl could not be taken for wife without the consent of her parents or guardian. The suitor had to make a bargain with them, and pay a price agreed upon, which seems to have been proportioned to some extent to his wealth, as a well-to-do man would be expected to give more than a poor one. Still marriage was not entirely a mercenary affair, as a man who was idle or worthless, or a poor hunter, had, it is said, much difficulty to obtain a wife, while one who was industrious, or a skillful hunter, could easily do so. This shows that the parents or guardians of a girl took an interest in her future welfare, and it seems probable that her own inclination was consulted to some extent.

All accounts agree, however, that after her parents or guardians had once disposed of her they had no more control over her.

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[paragraph continues] Should she become a widow, or separate from her husband, she was free to marry whom she liked.

It is said that polygamy was not common, though some men would have two wives, and occasionally more. The most usual form was for a man to marry several sisters one after the other. It is said to have been permissible for a free woman, such as a widow, to herself propose to a man that he take her as a wife, even though he was already married, and it was thought unchivalrous for him to refuse to do so. If a man had two or more wives it was customary for him to give one of them to a brother who might have lost his only wife. Until quite recently it was thought to be in a measure obligatory for an unmarried woman to marry the husband of her deceased sister. For her to decline to do so was thought to show disrespect to the deceased sister.

Some say that another method of marriage was for a man and several of his friends to carry off by force the woman he wished to marry, even from the house of her parents.

Marriages with even distant relations were looked upon with extreme disfavor.

When a child is adopted by an Indian family it is looked upon as one of their own children, and its marriage with one of its foster relations is regarded as incestuous.

One remarkable belief was that when a woman had a child, certain acts on the part of its father would affect its health in the same manner as if they were performed by the mother herself. So for some time after the birth of a child its father was supposed to be as careful of himself as its mother. He was forbidden to smoke, as that would choke the infant. He was also careful not to take cold, as that would affect the infant's health. Neither, if it was winter, was it allowable for him to drink cold water. It was in fact thought improper for him to eat or drink anything that is usually prohibited to a woman with a newly born child. When an infant died within a few days of its birth, its mother often attributed its death to the violation by its father of some of the prescribed rules, and quarrels often arose between a husband and wife on this account.

It was customary for a woman for a certain time after bearing a child to keep herself with a fire in a close house.

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