Thursday, December 29, 2011

Displays of Affection

There has long been controversy over whether or not Indian lovers kissed.  Of course, no one can forget Kevin Costner (Lt. Dunbar) and his beautiful Indian woman, Stands With a Fist, and their toe-tingling liplocks in Dances with Wolves.  Did the writer take creative license and expand the romance for the sake of making the movie more appealing?  I know, as a romance author, I've had some pretty passionate scenes in my books, but I can't find much written about the "custom."  I recently sent off an email to an American Indian forum and I'm waiting for a response, but what I discovered in by book, The Sioux by Royal B. Hassrick casts a little black cloud over my passionate nature.  :)

I quote, "Lovers were never to be seen holding hands, and man and wife never showed any affection in public.  There is no intimation here that the Sioux failed to know all that is necessary to know about the intimacies of marital affection, but this knowledge could not be bandied about.  Any overt expression of affection would be uncouth."

The author further states that in events where women and men were both in attendance, they sat separately, with the women keeping their eyes downcast and whispering only to their neighbor.  Likewise, the men did not exchange glances with the females as modesty and reserve "were the essence of fortitude."

It sounds to me that what went on behind the closed tepee flaps shall forever remain secret, but the fact that it wasn't uncommon for young married couples to spend years with their elders might have provided less chance for intercourse or romance of any type.

It's great to be a fiction author.  Although I can guarantee most of my facts are historically accurate, I cannot with any certainty say that kissing was indeed a custom practiced in private by the Lakota.  I hope to get an answer from someone who might know.  :)  Feel free to share any resources here in the comments.  I think we'd all like to know.


Beth Trissel said...

Interesting Ginger. I don't know about Lakota customs, but Kevin Costner wasn't playing a pure Lakota but one accepted by the tribe and Stands With a Fist was adopted and would have had some memories of her white parents. Even if subconscious, so Dunbar and his woman can be perfectly justified in their westernized courtship.

Beth Trissel said...

But, as you pointed out, no one minded anyway. :)

Unknown said...

Ah, c'mon Beth. I think we know Lt. Dunbar wasn't Indian, but Stands With a Fist was raised by her tribe from childhood. My point should have focused on the couple who raised her, when they were being intimate in a tepee filled with other people. Remember when Stand's With a Fist laid there with her back to them and listened? Gads, wouldn't that be awful?

Paty Jager said...

I agree, we don't know what the real intimacies were and as romance writers take liberties with that aspect of our stories but we all work hard to make everything else in our stories accurate as we can research.