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Nature's Law
Spiritual Life, Governance, Culture, Traditions, Resources, Context and Background
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Kinship Terms

Relational Law

Kinship Systems




Kinship Group

Understandings of Relations

Tsu'u Tina Kinship System

Kinship Terms

and Judgement



Visual representation of nature's laws

Equally complex as Cree terminology is the Sioux language, indicating that kin relationships are a highly significant cultural feature. A flavour of this complexity is conveyed by a few of the terms below drawn from Walker's 1913 list: 

[Relatives in generations older than person]

Hunkake - Ancestor

Tunkan - Grandfather (may be used by anyone)

Tunkansi - Maternal grandfather (used in this sense only by grandchildren when addressing or speaking of their mother's father); Father-in-Law (when used by any other than the grandchildren)

Tunkansila - Paternal grandfather (used in this sense only by grandchildren when addressing or speaking of their father's father); A term of respect used in addressing any very old man (wicahica), a title of respect given to a high official, such as the President of the United States; it is also a title of address by the Oglala to their superior god Wi, the Sun.

Kun - Paternal grandmother (may be used by anyone)

Kunsi - Paternal grandmother (used only by grandchildren in ad- dressing or speaking of their father's mother)

Onci - Maternal grandmother (may be used by anyone)

iOncis - Maternal grandmother (used in this sense only by grandchildren when addressing or speaking of their mother's mother); Mother-in-law (when used by any other than the grandchildren); A term of respect used when addressing any very old woman (winohica).

Atku - Father

Ate - Papa (used only by children when addressing their father or his brother)

Hun - Mother

Ina - Mama (used only by children when addressing their mother or her sister)

Leksi - Uncle (the brother of the mother)

Tonwin - Aunt (the sister of the father)

[Relatives in person's own generation]

Ciye - Eldest brother of a male
Tiblo - Eldest brother of a female
Sunka - Younger brother of a male or female
Cunwe - Eldest sister of a female
Tanke - Eldest sister of a male
Tanka - Younger sister of a female
Tankasi - Younger sister of a male
Tahansi - Male cousin of a male
Hankasi - Female cousin of a male
Sicesi - Male cousin of a female
Sicepansi - Female cousin of a female

Of equal importance are the cultural norms governing marriage and divorce. A glimpse of this is provided by this lengthy quotation from Walker's study:

In former times it appears that the social conditions and customs of the Oglalas were something as follows. A camp (wicoti) was a collection of tipis and persons associated by common consent for social purposes. Any member of a camp might withdraw from it at his will and either join another camp, make a camp of his own, or live alone. If he joined another camp he thereby became a member of that camp and subject to its rules and regulations. If he camped alone he was independent of all rules and regulations except such as he chose to make for himself.

In his tipi he was lord and his will was law governing all the inmates. His woman (tawicu) was his property, for which he either paid the customary price (winyancin), stole her away (wiinalima), or took her by capture (wayaka). He might dispose of her at his will either by throwing her away (ihipeya) or giving her away (winyanku). He (might keep her and treat her as a wife (for which there is no word in the Sioux language) in which case she was consulted relative to the affairs of the family, or he might keep her simply to do the work incident to life in a tipi and to satisfy his sexual passions, or more often, to bear him children.

The animal instinct of preserving his female for his own use was strongly developed among the men of this people. If at any time a woman was found guilty of adultery (wawicihiahiapi) or of disgraceful and unbecoming conduct (ohianwahanhan), her man (hignaku) might throw or give her away, or inflict such punishment on her as he saw fit, such punishment for this usually being to mutilate her in some way so as to show w hat she had been guilty of. He might kill her for this transgression, when he would not incur the enmity of her friends, as he would if he should kill her without what, according to the customs of the Sioux, was considered a sufficient cause for doing so. Or he might mutilate her person by cutting off her nose or an ear.

But the most usual manner of disfiguring her was to cut off one braid of her hair, leaving the other long for the first offense, and if it was repeated, then to mutilate her person in some way, and if she persisted in her conduct, then to kill her.

But if she was thrown or given away, then the man who did so had no more authority or control over her or her actions.

While the position of the woman in the family was subordinate to the man in almost every particular, she had certain rights which were recognized among the Sioux, as follows. She had the right to leave a man who had taken her, in which case her friends could take her part in the difference, and if they thought that she had not sufficient cause for her action they could restore her to her man, If he so wished it. Then the only way she could escape remaining his woman was to fly and remain in hiding from him, or to become the woman of someone who was the more powerful than her former man, and able to maintain his possession of the woman, by force if need be (yazapi).

Her rights while in the family (wicowepi) pertain to the household (tiwahe). It was her duty to skin the larger game, and the skins became her property, and she was expected to tan them or other- wise fit them for use. If she made them up into articles for the use of the man, they then became the personal property of the man, or if she made them up for the personal use of a grown up son or anyone not a member of the family, they became the personal property of the one for whom they were made. But if she made them up for any other person or use in the family they remained her own, which she had the right to dispose of in any manner she saw fit. But the men skinned the smaller furbearing animals, and while the women tanned and prepared these, they remained the property of the men, and when the buffalo skins became articles of commerce with the white people, the men took charge of the sale of them, and of the proceeds of such sales.

As the tipis were made of skins they were the property of the women, as were the clothing of herself and her children, until they were grown up, and she owned the robes used in the family, except those belonging to the man and grown sons, and all the domestic implements and utensils.

All the children that were the issue of her body belonged to her until they had arrived at puberty in the sense that her right to their possession took precedence over that of her man, their father. She is their mother (hunkupi) and they hold her as their ancestor (hunkake). Her right to control her children took precedence over that of her husband until the sons became of an age w hen they could be instructed in the arts of the chase and of war, when the father took charge of them, but in the tipi they were still subordinate to the mother until they arrived at the age of manhood.

In the management of all ordinary domestic work the woman's authority was supreme. If she left a man her claim to her rights was unimpaired, but if her man disputed it she could maintain it only by the help of her friends whose aid depended on their ability to enforce their wishes could permit her to take such as she wished and he granted. But if a woman was thrown away or given away for punishment, she lost all rights to all her property and her children, except babies, but the man did not have the same loss. Walker, p.41-47.

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