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The Nez Perce Language is part of the Penutian Language family. The grandparents cared and tended to the children. Boys would learn from their grandfathers how to hunt, fish, sweatbathe and ride a horse. A boy had a ceremony feast for his first game kill. A girl had a ceremony feast for her first root digging. At menarche, girls were isolated in special house and tended by females and the mother. They had to use a scratching stick and other taboos were placed on them during this time. They were welcomed back into the community and given gifts and new clothes, signifying that they were ready to mate. Marriages were arranged by the heads of families and there were cases of childhood betrothal. Sororal polygyny was common. The Nez Perce did have slaves and sometimes, female slaves were taken as second wives. There were also reported cases of male transvestites who lived with men in their households. The transvestites were not officially "wives". In other cases of marriage, if a boy desired a girl, an older female related to the him began negotiations with the girl's family. If the couple was compatable, they had a ceremonial exchange of gifts between families. Couples could live with either set of parents. During childbirth, the mother-to-be went to a small separate house and a midwife delivered the child. Shaman were only brought in when their was an emergency during the birth. Babies were placed on cradleboards.
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