Wedding Traditions of the Native American

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Native American Wedding Traditions


The wedding tradition of Native Americans can vary from region to region or tribe to tribe. In Northern California, Native Americans had a very unique custom called full or half marriages, where the man who wanted to marry the woman would either pay full or half price for the bride. If he paid full price it would offer them, and their families, a higher social status.


If for some reason the future groom could not afford to pay full price, he would only be half-married, which meant that he would have to live with his bride and her family, while being under his bride’s father’s rules. Half-marriages would usually only happen if the groom did not have much money or his family did not approve of either the woman or her family was in need of another man in the family to help. In addition, both the groom and bride would wear silver and turquoise jewelry believing that it would protect them against bad luck, evil spirits, poverty and hunger.


The Hopi Wedding Customs


The women will make bread and bring it to the mother of the man she wants to marry and if she accepts, they can then marry. The bride will go to her house and grind cornmeal, while the groom will chop firewood for his mother, as well as get some water. Once they have completed these chores, the bride will put on manta beads and a wedding blanket. Then the couple will walk without shoes to the groom’s home where she will give the ground corn to her soon-to-be mother in-law and she will stay there for three days. During this three day stay, she will grind more corn for her groom’s mother and the groom’s aunts will try to attack her with mud, but her mother in-law will protect her.


On the morning of the wedding, the bride’s female relatives will go to the groom’s mother’s home and bring the bread and ground corn that the bride had made. Then the women will wash the couple’s hair together in the same basin and entwine them together to symbolize that they will be together forever. With their hair still attached to one another, they will go outside to pray to the rising sun. The bride’s wedding attire is made by the groom and the men of the village as the dress will have two white wedding robes, a large belt, white moccasins with leggings, a white robe with red stripes on the bottom and top, a string to tie the hair and a mat to wrap the outfit in. She will also wear this same outfit when she goes into the afterlife. The bride will put on her wedding attire and go back to her home and be welcomed by all of her female relatives. All of the groom’s relatives will go with her and exchange gifts with one another. Then the groom will go to the bride’s home and spend the night there and on the following day he will go get wood for his mother in-law and from then on he will live there with his wife.


The Wedding Vase And Music


Usually about a week or two before the wedding, the future groom’s family will make a wedding vase for the new couple. After the vase is finished the soon-to-be groom, along with his family, will go to the future bride’s house. The bride will be waiting outside of her home with everything she will need to start a new household with such as corn, clothing, cooking utensils and her manta wedding dress.


The parents of the couple will give them advice and share their wisdom on how to have a happy marriage. Holy water will be placed into the vase and given to the bride, where she will take a drink and give it the groom to take a drink from the opposite side uniting them as one. The wedding vase will always be treasured in their marriage as they will keep it as long as they live.


Native Americans express music mainly through singing, while the instruments they have are mainly used to create more of a rhythmic sound. Usually Native Americans have their love songs played by men on their flutes, while the main instruments that are used in their weddings and in other ceremony are rattles, whistles, flutes and drums. However, the most powerful music that you will hear from the Native American people is when a group of men sing in unison together while playing the drums.