Recent changes in marriage patterns among the Churchill Chipewyans
Hlady, Walter Maxwell.
Marriage among the Churchill Band of Chipewyan is studied for the period 1700-1965 for which records are available. Marriage is analyzed in two ways: 1. the qualities of Chipewyan marriage; and 2. the modes of courtship. Where polygyny with as many as eight wives was possible in the early fur trade period 1700-1850, polygyny declines until this type of marriage almost disappears by 1910, largely the result of missionary activity. Marriage by purchase, marriage by capture and inheritance of wives also disappears. With the move of the group into Churchill after 1956, the women rebel against the traditional system of arranged marriages and arrange their own marriages, largely outside the group. The men, because of the social position of Chipewyan at Churchill, have no one to marry. The prime reasons for the Chipewyan women marrying outside the group appears to be the acquisition of a better standard of living, higher status and a great degree of independence. Unless the males find women to marry, it is likely that the Churchill Band will gradually disappear. However, it is likely that a cultural solution will be found.