Northern California Traditions Wedding

Published on August 4, 2014 by Carol

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Modoc traditional Wedding

A custom among the Northern Californian Native Americans*, which was unique to them, is that of half-marriage and full-marriage.

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In a full marriage, two kinsmen represented the future bridegroom. After agreeing on a price, in accordance with the family’s wealth and social standing, the bridegroom – usually with his father’s help – would pay the bride’s family. The future social status of the family and the children depended on the price, therefore the bridegroom was willing to pay as much as he could possibly afford.

In half-marriage, the man would pay about half the usual price for his bride. The man would live in his wife’s home under her father’s jurisdiction. A man might have to half-marry because of a lack of wealth or social standing, or if his father did not approve of his bride. A woman’s family might allow her to half marry because they had no sons and needed another man in the family, or if there were Shaman powers in the family. About one in four marriages were half-marriages.

The bride’s dress may be woven in symbolic colors: white for the east, blue for the south, yellow (orange) for the west; and black for the north. Turquoise and silver jewelry are worn by both the bride and the groom in addition to a silver concho belt. Jewelry is considered a shield against evils including hunger, poverty and bad luck.

*The tribes of northern California include the Klamath, the Modoc and the Yurok.

Source: manataka Unabridged
Based on the collective work of, © 2015 Native American Encyclopedia.
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