Published on August 3, 2014 by Carol
A Delaware Native American girl who reached puberty may have had her union prearranged by her parents. Often a couple just lived together as man and wife. To mark the occasion, there was a simple exchange of jewelry, blankets or a belt of wampum to the girl’s parents. If the parents accepted the gifts the union was sanctioned.
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The young bride would wear a knee-length skirt of deerskin and a band of wampum beads around her forehead. Except for fine beads or shell necklaces, the body would be bare from the waist up as was the standard form of dress. If it were a winter wedding, she would wear deerskin leggings and moccasins and a robe of turkey feathers. Her face would be painted with white, red and yellow clay.
Turkey feather robes were not wedding attire. Turkey feather robes were worn by chiefs and other high ranking elders. They are commonly referred to “a chief’s robe”. And, robes, of any kind, by anybody, were generally worn only in cold weather. Lënape marriages were not arranged by the family with the prospective bride and groom having no say or choice. The groom made the choice of who he wanted to marry, and the bride had her choice of whether to marry the man or not. After a family conference, the groom’s family sent an ambassador to the bride’s family to speak on behalf of the prospective groom. The prospective bride’s family decides whether or not to accept the proposal. If they do, they send an ambassador to a particular member of the groom’s family to announce the acceptance. On the day after the wedding, the bride’s parents present the couple with useful presents. After this presentation, it was common for the couple to travel on what we now call a honeymoon. The above information is universal to all three divisions of the Lënape people. In some practices there are some differences in ceremonial procedures between the three divisions – for example: while the basic funeral ceremonies are the same for both the Monsi and the Unami, the Monsi procedures for what occurs after the burial are different from those of the Unami. Likewise, there may be some small differences in detail between the marriage practices of the Monsi, Unami, and Unilaxtigo