#40 Strained Sex Relations
     (V. F. Ray, 1928-1930)

Strained sex relations sometimes resulted in suicide. When eloping couples were overtaken and brought back it was not uncommon for the girl to kill herself. Forced marriage to an undesirable husband sometimes resulted in a like action, but more often such a situation was endured for a time until an opportunity to run away appeared. Since she had been married the girl was no longer subject to return to her parents in such a case. A woman ended her life by hanging or by falling forward on her digging stick.

Burke’s maternal grandmother committed suicide by hanging. She had been away with a man for several days. Upon her return she was reprimanded by her older sister and told never to see him again. She then took a tumpline and left the house. Her sister thought she was going for wood. Instead she found a fallen log with a limb projecting upward, tied the line around her neck, crawled out on the end of the limb and jumped off.

Male suicide was not as common as female. Men probably never hung themselves but rather thrust a knife into the heart or shot an arrow into the air and ran under it. A Sanpoil man named taxpa-ikst was told that his wife was cohabiting with his brother. He announced that he was going to kill himself. He went out, shot several arrows into the air, ran underneath, but each time one came near he dodged. Then he went into the house, procured a gun and shot himself through the shoulder. After that he called upon his brother, told him what he had done and gave the reason, and told him that he might have his horse for he was going to die. But he did not die. Instead he took back his horse and his wife.

[#40] Salish: V. F. Ray, The Sanpoil and Nespelem: Salishan Peoples of Northwestern WashingtonSeattle, WA: University of Washington, 1932, p. 149.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Americas, Indigenous Cultures, North American Native Cultures

Leave a Reply