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Mothers and Grandmothers encouraged children to watch everything they did. Skills for sewing, preparation of food, tanning moosehides, snaring small animals and setting fishnets were learned by carefully watching all the women of the camp. Older sisters and aunts would help them master the skills they would need for marriage.
"They say, don't marry a bad person. Get a good one that can hunt. Your Grandpa was like that. He talked wisely. He (my future husband) knew how to make a fishnet. He knew how to kill a moose, and set net under the ice. He owned a lot of stuff, like a tent. He knew how to hunt in the cold. Then a person thinks about getting married. When you don't have anything you don't get married. That's the way it was long ago." Doris Etzel, Ross River
"Find a good husband that will hunt for you." She always tease us like that, Grandma. She said, "make sure you find a good husband. I'm not going to live for long to you," she said. "You look for a man that could hunt good." Aggie Magun, Watson Lake
" They work on anything. They dried meat; they taught children; they worked on hides, they make rope. They netted snowshoes. They taught children." Mary Charlie, Ross River
Young woman were taught how to behave around men and men's belongings. If young women behaved appropriately, it showed that they respected themselves and others.
"Grandma was really strict about that, you know, when we were growing up that we're not supposed to, as young girls growing up, we're not supposed to step over men's belongings, like their clothes and their guns. The men or young boys had to be respectful and putting away their things, to make sure that children don't run over their things." Leda Jules, Liard
In the long ago time, marriage was an arrangement between families of opposite clan (Crow female would marry Wolf man). Usually by discussion of elders, a man would come to reside with the girl's family to perform tasks for them to show what a good provider he would be. Clan reciprocity and kinship ties would be revisited and strengthened during this transition time. The future husband's obligation to his future wife's family would predominate in the matrilineal society.
Leda Jules and a few woman her age, were the last Kaska women to have arranged marriages.
"Yes that's how I got married. Because when I was 13, like Robert's grandfather came to visit my grandmother and I was still going to school at that time. He talked to my grandmother about when I quit school that he wanted me to marry his grandson. That's how when I quit school at 16, I went with Robert 'cause that was arranged before I went, you know, to marry him. Leda Jules, Liard
About The Creators
Location and Maps of Watson Lake
Kaska Language Web Page
Traditions and Women
Photographs of Watson Lake