Caddo Age Class Terms

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Age-Class Terms

gayotsi baby
sihyat’iti} boy under ten
sihnuti} girl under ten
tishiyatsi boy, about ten and over
tinuti girl, about ten and over
shiyatsi youth, eighteen or twenty
nutitsi maiden, eighteen or twenty
hanistih mature or old man
sayatih mature or old woman

Joking Relationship: Respect

Between relations by marriage within the same generation, i.e. between those who call each other da’hai’, there is a joking relationship1 (tsimbakanishia, I joke2 with him, with her) as well as with one kind of cousin you call “sister,” dahai’’.  More explicit on this parallel cousinship White Moo could not be, unfortunately, except that it was farther away than first cousinship.3 The jokes are largely conjugal and economic. A man might say to his sister-in-law that he had seen her husband with another woman, or woman might say to her brother-in-law that she had seen his wife with another man. To a woman, a man might also say, “I hear that you are a poor cook.” To a man a woman might say, “I have heard that you don’t know how to plough.” The retort must be in joke.

There is no parent-in-law taboo such as occurs among the neighboring Plains tribes;4 but in the presence of his parents-in-law a man may not swear or make sex jokes.5 As for avoidance of parents-in-law Pardon considers it “foolishness.” He has a relative whose father is an Arapaho. This man when he goes to visit his father’s people would play practical jokes in connection with the Arapaho rule to avoid a mother-in-law. If somebody asked him, “Where is mother-in-law?” in order to avoid her, Pardon would send the questioner in the woman’s direction. Then, when the woman asked,  Where is son-in-law?” Pardon would send her in the direction of her son-in-law, so that the two would be sure to meet.


  1. The joking relationship between a brother-in-law and sister-in-law occurs among Wichita (Spier, 261), among Shawnee and many other Eastern tribes (Voegelin) and amo Crow, Hidatsa, Arapaho, Blackfoot, etc. (Lowie 1: 94). 

  2. There is no other term for joke, and this term is confined exclusively to this stereotype. 

  3. In an inter-clan marriage, the near relatives on each side could make fun of, and pl pranks upon each other (Informant, White-bread-Swanton 4:204). 

  4. Or among Choctaw (Swanton 3: 129), but in the East parent-in-law taboos were not as common as on the Plains (Voegelin). 

  5. Spier’s informant affirmed that “conversation is tabooed between parents-in-law and Children-in-law except in cases of serious need.”  This taboo is marked among Wichita (Spier, 261). 

MLA Source Citation:

Parsons, Elsie Clews. Notes on the Caddo, Memories of the American Anthropological Association. Supplement to American Anthropologist, Volume 43, No. 3, Part 2. 1921. Web. 27 January 2015. - Last updated on Nov 30th, 2014


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