Gender over the Life Cycle

Infants were referred to as ohmaa, a gender-neutral term. Children were distinguished by sex, either as tua, "boy/son," or naipin, "girl/daughter." In the (reduplicative) plural, tutua, the term for boy was also used gener-ically for children of either sex. An adult man was called a tenkwan, and this term was sometimes modified to distinguish adult men by age. Thus, tenkwapp~ referred to a male who was slightly older than a tenkwan and tenkwacci an old man. A very old man might be called a tenkwaccicci (by reduplication of the suffix), although the generic term cukku (or cukkuppy) was more often applied to very old males. Similarly, terms for women varied by age: wa'ippy referred to a young adult women, hypi to a slightly older woman, and hypicoo to an old woman. The term kuhma indicated a married male, and a married woman was called a kwyhy.

The verb for marrying differed by sex. Women were said to kuhattu, while men were said to kwyyttuh. The suffixes in these verb forms are archaic frozen forms of the same origin that have the sense of "take a—."

Socialization of Boys and Girls

Among the Western Shoshone, children of both sexes were valued. Trenholm and Carley (1964, p. 11) asserted that "a girl baby was considered a blessing because the parents knew that some day she would attract a mate who would help the family in its never-ending quest for food." Child rearing was lenient for both sexes, and neither sex seems to have been preferred over the other. In contrast, Meriwether Lewis, in his log for August 19, 1805, noted that among the Northern Shoshone girls might be beaten for some offense, but boys were never spanked because it was feared that this would cow them and undermine their ability to perform as warriors.

Among the Western Shoshone, modesty was not a major cultural concern. For instance, nudity was common among children, although girls were somewhat more likely than boys to be clothed. Nudity was less common among the Northern and Eastern Shoshone, where larger game, such as elk, made it easier to clothe all members of a family.

Among the Shoshone, younger children of both sexes were either cared for by their older siblings at the camp site or accompanied their mothers as they foraged for food plants around the camp. Differences in socialization were minimal until boys were old enough to accompany their fathers on hunts, at which time boys learned hunting skills.

Attainment of Adulthood

According to Trenholm and Carley (1964, p. 12), "a coming of age ceremony was observed throughout the Basin for the girl as well as the boy." For girls, the emphasis seemed to have been an isolation during the "dangerous period" of the girl's life and upon giving her tasks to strengthen her for the hardships she must face. The boy, too, was prepared for his life's work of helping to provide for a family. He was not allowed to eat the first wild game he killed, as a lesson in abstinence.

Among the Western Shoshone, girl's puberty rituals were practiced for females but not for males. At first menstruation, a girl observed several days of relative isolation. During this period, her mother admonished her "to arise early, work hard, and be restrained in talking and laughing" (Steward, 1941, p. 316).

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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