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Plains and Plateau Tribes: PAWNEE

The Pawnee Language is part of the Caddoan Language family. The Pawnee had matrilineal descent. At menarche, girls moved into a separate lodge with their grandmother. At the end of the menstruation, the grandmother would bathe the girl, clothe her and purify her with cedar smoke. Girls continued this for every menstruation thereafter. Before puberty, boys stayed naked. Pawnee boys only began wearing clothes when they reached puberty. At puberty, boys were sent to live with their uncle's wife. It was usually an uncle who was away at war. During this time, the non-blood relative aunt would instruct him in sex, making him a junior husband to his uncle's wife and creating a temporary polyandrous relationship. The uncle would then decide when the boy was ready for marriage and sometimes the uncle would select a wife for him. Sometimes informal marriages would occur. A boy could creep into bed with a girl at night. In the morning, the girl's family would discuss if he were acceptable. If they approved he moved into her home. During pregnancy, both the husband and wife had to practice pregnancy taboos. At the first sign of labor, the man unbraids his hair, wearing it loose and goes to a lodge for four days. Midwives would give medicine to induce birth to make it easy. The umbilical cord was cut and wrapped in a buckskin pouch.

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Last updated 12.7.2014