Sexuality

With many people living in the confined quarters of tents, cabins, and other dwellings, children are exposed to sexual matters at an early age. Young men are expected to take the initiative in gaining sexual experience prior to marriage. Until recently, however, families were rather protective of their unmarried daughters. This creates a pattern of adventuring for some young men who seek sexual encounters when traveling to other communities, who acquire magical insurance such as Cree "love medicine," or who are accommodated by older women, often widows (Jarvenpa, 1998). Seeking privacy for premarital or extramarital affairs requires ingenuity in finding rendezvous spots in the bush or on the hidden sides of islands, or waiting for a lover's family or spouse to depart on a hunt or an errand (VanStone, 1965).

Pollution, at least historically, was a markedly negative aspect of women's sexuality. Without caution, it was thought that menstrual blood could contaminate dog harnesses, hunting equipment, and game trails, and thereby destroy a hunt or, at least, men's ability to hunt. The reverse side of this coin was that women's sexuality and fertility represented the power to reproduce Chipewyan society. While some Chipewyan women also took part in the direct harvest phases of hunting it is unclear how, if at all, their menstrual blood was thought to impact upon their own hunting activity.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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