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Revisiting Kohler, Gifford and Rivers: Secondary marriages and Crow-Omaha terminologies

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It is now well over a century since Gifford (1916) and Rivers (1914) invoked certain second marriages as an explanation for Crow-Omaha (C-O) terminologies, and even further from Josef Kohler’s initial attempt (1897; translated 1975) to marshal such an explanation for the Omaha themselves. In this paper, I wish to revisit these ideas with reference to a wider body of literature. This literature has only appeared since these three scholars wrote, though none of it is very recent. I shall end by arguing that these practices can be seen as modified forms of the sororate and levirate as conventionally understood.

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