(Nahane; 3+,3+,3-,3-,3+,3+;6,6;G3)

KASKA (North-American Natives)


More: Arapaho, Assiniboine, Athabascans, Blood/ Blackfoot, Cajuns, Cherokee, Chipewyans, Apache Chiricahua, Comanches, Crow, Dakota, Flathead, Gros Ventre, Hopi, Huron, Ingalik, Copper Inuit, Iñupiat, Iroquois, Kiowa-Apache, Klamath, Kwakiutl, Lakota, Mohave, Mantagnais / Naskapi, Navajo, Nootka, Ojibwa, Omaha, Point Barrow, Pomo, Powhatans, Qipi, Quinault, San Ildefonso, Shoshone, Shuswap, Sioux, Tinglit, Ute, Walapai,Yokuts, Yurok, Zuñi

See also: North-America Non-Natives





The Kaska believed that childhood masturbation would cause insanity (Underwood and Honigmann, 1947:p561/1956:p749)[1][118]. Masturbation “is discouraged with threats of insanity. It is important to note, however, that parents sincerely believe insanity to be a possible consequence of masturbation”. Honigmann (1949:p161-2)[2][119] states that eighteen is commonly given as the age when sexual relations “can savely be begun. Most girls begin when they are fifteen or younger. […] Ideally, premarital sexual intercourse is disapproved of, particularly for girls”. A girl of 13 “showing a tendency toward promiscuity” was beaten “just like a dog” by her mother, herself having a “widespread reputation for past promiscuity”. Informants report homosexual behaviour occurring “following puberty” and largely in “consequence of sexual frustration”. Adolescents may include a “swift coital-like rhythm” in their wrestling. Men might “fool” with boys the way they “fool” with women.

“Attitudes toward infantile sexuality were not observed or reported. In its early years, of course, a baby, being closely bound and heavily diapered, has little opportunity to explore its genitals” (p180). Childhood masturbation is reprimanded (p183), which is in tune with the general restriction applied in this phase.


“No effort is made to give a child sex instruction, and since people rarely discuss sexual topics, children are limited in the information which they might acquire about this subject. Sexual prohibitions are explained obliquely and with many euphemisms, so that the prevailing attitude toward sex as something highly personal and restricted cannot fail to be transmitted. On the other hand, some awareness of sexuality may be gained when a child loiters in the mixed company of adolescents and unmarried young people, who engage in sexual teasing and sometimes make threats or references without regard of the presence of youngsters. Since parents and children sleep in the same dwelling room, it is likely that children are early exposed to sexual activities, the meaning of which is not explained. When adults are intoxicated there is also a relaxation of sexual taboos from which youngsters are not protected. A sense of modesty begins to be inculcated in the child when he is three or four years old, and children of that age will not urinate or defecate in the presence of other people. Now the mother also warns a child of any indecent exposure in a public place” (p186).


At puberty, teasing turns to sexual teasing. Marriage should not be precocious, preferably at age 19 for both sexes.

Honigmann (1954:p120)[3][120]: “Children of the same sex could urinate and defecate together in the bush but children of the opposite sex were early prohibited this degree of intimacy. […] Children were dissuaded from sex play by parents pointing out how it threatened a boy’s hunting prowess and could cause a girl’s death. Sexual curiosity met the warning: “Your eyes are going to be blind”. A masturbator’s hands were whipped with a willow switch”. “Although any connection between the menstrual flow and hymenal bleeding was denied, people asserted that the initiation of sexual relations brought on menarche some five years later. As Ford points out, in conjunction with considerable premarital intercourse such a belief “would only rare be challenged by contradictory facts”. Girls knew from the warnings they had received that sexual relations led to bleeding, and not uncommonly a girl noticing the onset of menstruation seized her blanket and shamefully ran off. The mother followed, seeking her daughter where the latter hid under a tree. The girl was asked the name of the boy who had “started” her”. Children were behaving indecent when uncovered beyond the age of 3, obscene drawings by children were punished.













Janssen, D. F., Growing Up Sexually. VolumeI. World Reference Atlas. 0.2 ed. 2004. Berlin: Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology

Last revised: Sept 2004


[1][118] Underwood, F. W. & Honigmann, I. (1947) A comparison of socialization and personality in two simple societies, Am Anthropol 49:557-77.  Reprinted in Haring, D. G. (Ed., 1956) Personal Character and Cultural Milieu. Syracuse, New York: SyracuseUniversity Press. 3rd. Ed., p745-66

[2][119] Honigmann, J. J. (1949) Culture and Ethos of Kaska Society. New Haven: YaleUniversity Press

[3][120] Honigmann, J. J. (1954) The Kaska Indians. New Haven: YaleUniversity Press