Grandma’s stories of arranged weddings

by Peter Twitchell

On February 14, 1965 I sent 14 valentines cards to Pastor Eichman’s daughter Beth. I liked her as a friend only and she could brave the cold with the rest of us. I guess you could say she was a “hardy young lady”. I was 15. Those were innocent days, and we didn’t get seriously involved back then.
Growing up I heard Grandma Hannah tell her friends who were visiting that parents in the Yup’ik tribe agreed who their children would become their daughters’ and sons’ lifetime partner. It used to scare me hearing this.
They used to laugh too about the wedding night. Often the women didn’t like the guys that their parents had chosen as their future husband! The wedding night was not so exciting or romantic! The women went to bed with their husband fully clothed. The women piled their clothes on not just go to bed with their day to day garb, but extra everything from underwear to dresses, pants, qaspeqs, and fur parkas.
It wasn’t easy as 1-2-3. The men had to work extra hard to find their wives under all that clothing!
Quality of a woman and man were carefully determined before marriage was granted. For instance, a man had to be a good provider and hardworking. A woman would have to have skills like sewing, cooking, and a good gatherer and strong.
Happy Valentine’s Day!

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