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Dakota Courting and Music

Dakota Courting and Music

by Darren Renville

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Tradition Unraveled (continued)

The Dawes Act of 1887, which introduced the blood quantum as a means of conferring Native American identity on tribal peoples, further complicated matters, introducing race as a factor into Dakota marriages. Although Dakota people are members of a sovereign government, federal recognition of traditional Dakota marriages was almost certainly an issue after the turn of the century. It is likely that many Dakota people were forced to marry in a Christian or a civil ceremony. Whereas race had previously been mostly irrelevant to Dakota relationships, federal Indian identification policy made it relevant, as children of marriages between Dakota and non-Dakotas could conceivably lose their rights as tribal citizens if their degree of Indian blood dropped below a certain level.

Once issues of property and race were forcibly introduced into the Dakota people’s concept of marriage and relationships, it was difficult for cultural practices such as courtship, which was based on love and personal and social responsibility, to continue unabated. Nevertheless, through the art of Seth Eastman and the music of Bryan Akipa, we can maintain a connection to those original concepts, which affirm love and commitment as the core of any marriage, rather than what might be gained materially or legally.

RealVideo: Carrie Schommer

Carrie Schommer,

Dakota elder

[ modem DSL ]


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