Native American Marriage Traditions

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Native American Marriage Traditions

American Native Rituals in Love and Marriage

By Sharon Falsetto


Many Native tribes in North American have traditions associated with love and the act of marriage; traditions include love potions and the symbolism of nature's union.

Both before and after the act of marriage, love potions are used by many Native tribes in North American; special plants, herbs and amulets are used in these traditional medicines. It was believed by many that the combination of the spiritual, magical, physical and natural elements would produce success in love and relationships.

Native Indian Use of Plants in Love Potions

Many Native tribes in North American used various plants and herbs in love potions including American Vetch (Vicia americana), Mountain Honeysuckle (Lonicera dioica), Moosewood (Viburnum lantanoides) and Partridgeberry (Mitchella repens). Scented Liverwort (Marchantia polymorpha) was chewed or drunk as a tea in the pursuit of love; Poke (Phytolacca americana) and Wood Lily (Lilium philadelphinicum) were also ingredients of love potions.

The Use of Love Potions by the Iroquois Tribes

The Iroquois tribes used herbs to 'dream results' of love; plants used include Indian tobacco (Lobelia inflata) and blue Lobelia (Lobelia spicata). This 'love potion' was placed under the dreamer's pillow before sleeping to induce the desired result. Lobelia plant species were often used in such love potions. Other love potions included the use of Knotweed (Polygonum arenastrum) and the Pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea).

Native American Marriage Rituals

The tradition of marriage in many Native tribes in North American symbolizes the union and connection to the spirits, Father Sky and the natural world of Mother Earth. Marriage traditions include blessing the bride and groom with children, long life and good crops. The marriage rites encompass all four key elements of native American ways – body, mind, spirit and nature.

Traditionally, the family of a Hopi Indian bride used to grind many hundreds of pounds of corn in preparation for the bride's wedding; this included all extended family members too. Today, weddings are still a huge family gathering of many family members as preparations are made for the wedding feast.

Native American Ceremonial Wedding Items

Basket weaving tribes such as the Apache, Paiute and Navajo Indian tribes place great emphasis on the creation of a wedding basket; the wedding basket is considered to be a sacred item and designs are traditional, such as circles with stars and points. In particular, the Navajo wedding basket holds much symbolism.

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