Published on September 4, 2014 by Amy
The majority of Choctaw Indians live in Southeastern Oklahoma, where the Choctaw Nation spans 10.5 counties. Though the Choctaw have culturally integrated with the modern United States, they maintain many of their traditions, including the ceremonies surrounding marriage. It is important for kids to understand these traditions, so they can keep the traditions alive when they are of marrying age.
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This is the first advance that a Choctaw woman makes on a man she is interested in. During a public gathering such as a dance, she might squeeze his hand or step gently on his foot. This indicates he should initiate a courtship. If the roles were reversed and a man were to touch a Choctaw woman in this way uninvited, he would most likely be beaten with sticks by the woman and her friends.
If the man is bold enough to make the first advance, it is customary for him to wait until he spies the woman walking alone and then throw a pebble at her feet. She will then make her interest, or lack of interest, known. A variation on this tradition has the man placing a personal object, such as a hat, on the woman’s bed to indicate that he would like to share it. If the woman removes the object, she is rejecting the man, but if she allows it to remain, they may have a future together.
On the appointed day and time of the wedding ceremony, the friends and relatives of the bride march toward the friends and relatives of the groom. They meet at a middle ground, roughly halfway between their villages or houses. A blanket is spread upon the ground there. The brothers, or male relatives, of the bride take the groom and seat him upon the blanket. The male relatives of the groom do the same with the bride. Sometimes, to add playfulness to the ceremony, she makes them give chase. When both parties are seated, the families give gifts to one another and the couple is married.
According to strict Choctaw tradition, a mother is forbidden to look at her son-in-law after the wedding ceremony. They may converse and interact, but her view of him must be hidden by a wall, curtain or tent. If no barrier is handy, she must cover her eyes when speaking to him. In the 19th century, while traveling or when no tent was present, it was not uncommon for matrons to walk around with their eyes lowered or closed to avoid looking at their sons-in-law.