KLAMATH (North-American Natives)


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See also: North-America Non-Natives




“Until the age of six or seven, boys and girls play together as much as they wish. When a bit older they will be warned not to be intimate with members of the opposite sex, but young children often play at “man and wife” in imitation of their elders, using the proper status terms for husband and wife and pretending to keep house. The boys go off to hunt, and the girls wait for them to bring meat home to cook. Such play is not discouraged, nor is it apparently encouraged” (Pearsall, 1950)[1][142]. The history of a 33-year-old female Klamath was less merriful: “She received no direct sex training, and was 18 before she discovered the significance of her menses. Her first sexual experience was at 8, when she was molested by a cousin” (Clifton, 1963)[2][143]. Girls usually marry within a year of puberty, which is marked, at least among the well-to-do, with a big dance. Betrothals may have been arranged while the couple were yet pre-adolescent, presents having been exchanged by the families. […] it does happen that an older man marries a young girl”. A girl’s consent is not necessary but “the majority of marriages follow the desire of the couples” (Spier, 1930:p45, 68)[3][144].

“Erotic” songs pass under the name of pilpil or puberty songs (Gatschet, 1890)[4][145]. “They include lines on signs of womanhood, courting, love sentiments, disappointments in love, marriage fees paid to parents, on marrying and on conjugal life. […] [T]hey all refer in fact to love-making and kindred sentiments, the satiric lines confirming the proverbial inclination of lovers to fight among themselves”.













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][142] Pearsall, M. (1950) Klamath Childhood and Education. Berkeley: University of California Press

[2][143]Clifton, J. A. (1963) Klamath Personalities: Ten Rorschach Case Studies. Lawrence, Kansas: Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Kansas

[3][144] Spier, L. (1930) Klamath Ethnography. Berkeley: University of California Press

[4][145] Gatschet, A. S. (1890) The Klamath Indians of Southwestern Oregon. Washington: Gov’t. Print. Off.