Let’s continue our discussion of the puberty ceremony. For the woman that would be a ceremony with much dancing and a feast and this would be also her presentation into the tribe as a woman who could be married and have sex and have children. Therefor the ceremony was very much about the abundance of nature and the miracle of life. The costumes would include feathers and pelts and other living things like plants, and the food would be abundant signifying the abundance of the woman herself and her ability to give birth. All of the elements of the ceremony would be reflecting fertility and also did about womanhood. By contrast the boys ceremony was all about the responsibilities and the seriousness of manhood. Men of these tribes were responsible not only going out and hunting and finding food but also protecting the women and children from raiders of other tribes who would come and try to attack them and take them away. Therefore the ceremony that recognized the boys’ entrance into manhood would be very different than the woman’s.
The boys’ was a somber and serious occasion where only the men will gather and the women would be excluded. The men would gather together with their knives and their war paint on and they would all cut the young boy in small places and make him drip blood. This was to signify and to acknowledge the blood that he would still in defense of the tribe and also the women and children. All the ceremonies are about manhood and toughness and also acknowledging to the great spirit that this person is ready and able to defend the tribe. Strength is a very strong virtue in Native American tribes as their lives were very physically strenuous and needed strong people to survive. Often times the ceremony would follow a journey by the young brave where he would go off into the wilderness and have to survive and go on a spirit journey for a certain amount of time. If you was able to survive and achieve all of the the things that he was supposed to then he would be rewarded by being allowed back into the fold and this is when the ceremony would occur.
This puberty ceremony for the boys would also include an introduction of hunting as not only a necessity for the group or with someone else but something that he would do alone. This means that the brave would be expected to go out hunting all alone. That means that part of the ceremony involves taking a animal that he had killed himself with only a spear and marking ham with the blood of this animal. This also as an acknowledgment of his marital age was a time when he could possibly be paired with a woman. However often times in the tribes the ceremony was not enough to actually have the man deserves or earn a wife. Oftentimes this was only reserved for the older men of the tribe who had mating rights with the women underneath and could choose which one they had.
This procedure was not common everywhere and changed from tribe to tribe. But the ceremonies were always a very important part of this process. It is important to consider also during the puberty ceremonies how much the ceremony itself was vital to it occurring. It was not enough that someone turned twelve or that they had their first menses or that they were capable hunters. The ceremony itself and acknowledgement of the shaman and the ritual that went along with it or the transformation itself. This is where the transformation actually took place. It is only important that the brave or young Native American girl was ready in the first place but it is the importance of the ritual itself and the ceremony that actually made the change from childhood to adulthood occur. This reliance on ceremony is not exclusive to Native Americans however it was very important to them and the importance of this cannot be understated.
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