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Algonquin-speaking people include the Cree, the Ojibwa or Chippewa, the Ottawa, the Montagnais, the
Naskapi and others. When a young man chooses a mate in the traditional way, he went
with the girl’s family
(matriarch society). The custom was usually determined by the growing season.
In warmer climates, where women would raise crops to support the families, they
were considered the providers. In cooler climates where families subsisted on
hunting performed by the men, the communities were considered patriarchal.
Algonquin Marriage Requirements
The couple may be required to perform certain responsibilities in
preparation for their wedding. The officiant determines these responsibilities.
In addition, the bride and groom must choose sponsors. The bridal couple has four sponsors. Sponsors are older, well-respected
persons chosen by the bride and groom. The sponsors are to give spiritual and
marital guidance to the couple throughout their lifetime. At the ceremony, the
sponsors make a commitment to help the couple.
Algonquin Marriage Ceremony
Ceremonies are preferably outside, or in a ceremonial lodge or under an
arbor. Their commitment is to the Creator, to God. There is no breaking that
commitment, and no divorce. The Pipe Carrier, the official, makes sure they are well aware of this
commitment. If the couple separates and goes their separate ways, in the eyes
of the Creator, they are still husband and wife. The Pipe Carrier will not
perform the ceremony unless the couple is very serious. Each person makes a declaration that they choose to be known as husband and
wife. Then they smoke from the pipe. Tobacco is offered and accepted by the
official. At the ceremony, the sponsors make a commitment to help the couple.
Algonquin Wedding Attire
Brides, grooms and sponsors dress in regalia - traditional clothing, usually
made by hand. The bride will wash herself in a body of water (lake, river,
ocean, pond) the morning of her union in order to be blessed by the spirit of
Algonquin Wedding Festivities
A wedding is a time of celebration. Everyone is invited by word of mouth
unless they live outside the community. There is no formal invitation. There is
feasting, visiting and a giveaway. Food items for the feast include fry bread, venison (deer meat), squash,
beans, corn, corn soup, potato soup and many desserts. Fresh fruits such as
blueberries, raspberries, and the 'heart' berry, strawberries, are served if
available. There may also be a wedding cake. In a traditional wedding, the food
is placed on a blanket, served buffet style. The food is blessed. The Elders
and the official will eat first, then the bride, groom, sponsors and other
guests. None of the food is wasted. All of the food is either eaten or given
away to the Elders.
In preparation for the Giveaway, the future bride and groom make (or buy)
hundreds of gifts. A gift will be given to each person attending the
celebration. The type of gifts is dependant upon the talent and financial
ability of the couple.