Choctaw Marriage Ceremony
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The marriage ceremony as performed until a few years ago, at a time when there were many Choctaw living in the region, was thus described by the women at Bayou Lacomb.
When a man decided he wanted to marry a certain girl he confided in his mother, or if she was not living, in his nearest female relative. It was then necessary for her to talk with the mother or the nearest living relative of the girl, and if the two women agreed, they in turn visited the chiefs or heads of the two ogla, or families, to get their consent to the union. As a man was not allowed to marry a girl who belonged to his ogla, often the women were obliged to make a long journey before seeing the two chiefs, whose villages were frequently a considerable distance apart.
After all necessary arrangements had been made, a day was fixed for the ceremony. Many of the man’s friends and relatives accompanied him to the girl’s village, where they seem to have had what may be termed “headquarters” of their own. As the time for the ceremony drew near, the woman with her friends was seen some distance away. The man and his party approached and he endeavored to catch the girl. Then ensued much sham fighting and wrestling between the two parties, and the girl ran about apparently endeavoring to escape, but she was finally caught by the man and his relatives and friends.
Then all proceeded to the place where the feast had been prepared, to which both parties had contributed. Off to one side, four seats had been arranged in a row; usually a log covered with skins served the purpose. The man and girl then took the middle seats and on the ends sat the two male heads or chiefs of their respective ogla. Certain questions were then asked by the chiefs, and if all answers were satisfactory, the man and girl agreed to live together as man and wife and were permitted to do so. This closed the ceremony and then the feasting and dancing began.
The man continued to live in his wife’s village and their children belonged to her ogla.
By mutual agreement the two parties could separate and, in the event of so doing, were at liberty to marry again. The man usually returned to his own village, taking all his property with him.
If a man died in his wife’s village, even though he left children, his brothers or other members of his ogla immediately took possession of all his property and carried it back to his native village. His children, being looked on as members of another oqla, since they belonged to their mother’s family, were not considered as entitled to any of this property.