Native American Dating
Native American dating used specific types of rituals and customs throughout history. Younger men and women weren't allowed to choose their own partner or date around like modern day people do. Instead they spent time with people their father saw as acceptable and the father typically setup their relationships. The father looked for someone with power in the tribe or a strong warrior. The person may have met someone on their own, but their father had final say over the relationship.
Some tribes, particularly the Sioux used a process of gift giving by the male. As he courted the female, he brought her gifts though at times these gifts were meant for the whole family or just the father. The father could accept the gifts and agree to the marriage and courtship, without the daughter's knowledge. There was also a lack of private time for the young couple as tradition required a chaperon. The belief was that girls must stay clean and pure, less they anger the Great Spirit and if they weren't given the chance to be alone, they wouldn't have the chance to lose their chastity.
Native American tribes also used the court flute as a ritual. The man would play this flute near his potential love interest's home. She had the option of coming outside, which indicated her interest in him or stay inside. If the woman didn't come out the man left and was forced to find another woman. Other tribes used a system where the interested man left deer meat or another type of meat at the woman's house. If she was interested, she used the meat to cook for him and if not, she left the food sitting outside.
Resources on Native American dating include:
- Crane Resurrection and Vigilance: details the legend of the crane, with information on the crane dance.
- Native American Traditions: includes information on dating and marriage in Native American tribes.
- Native American Wedding Customs: examines the way marriage and wedding customs were related to dating.
- Native American Courtship and Marriage: looks at how dating took place in specific tribes.
- Cherokee and Sioux Courtship: details the way in which these tribes used rituals in dating.
The Cherokee used a ritual known as the Crane Dance during courtship. The unmarried women of the tribe wore clothes decorated with feathers and danced for the men. These dances usually lasted several days and gave the men of the tribe the chance to view the single women. The men chose their suitor during this dance and told their mothers, who then went about setting up the dating process.