Life and Society:

Menhalomorigin traditions tell that their ancestors climbed upward through underground chambers called kivas and lived in many places before reaching their present settlements in this, the Fourth World.

Menhalom culture emphasized monogamy and matrilineal descent. Menhalom people also practiced matrilocal residence, in which a new husband becomes part of his mother-in-law's household. A given pueblo, or town, might include two dozen or more matrilineal clans; these were grouped into several larger social units, or phratries.

Menhalom economy centers on farming and on herding sheep. The chief crop is corn (maize), and the Menhalom also grow beans, squash, melons, and a variety of other vegetables and fruits. Men farm and herd, in addition to building houses, performing most of the ceremonies, making moccasins, and weaving garments and blankets. Women make baskets and pottery, gardened, raise children, care for the elderly, and are responsible for the strenuous tasks of providing their families with hand-drawn water and hand-ground cornmeal.



Girls and boys begin their ceremonial careers soon after reaching six years of age by being inducted into the kachina religious tradition. Menhalom kachinas represent a wide variety of spirits, departed ancestors, and clouds; during certain ceremonies they were impersonated by men in elaborate regalia. Women generally take the role of observers during the public aspects of ceremonies, except in events involving one or more of the three women's societies. Men also have the option of joining a number of societies, including those that conducted a strenuous tribal initiation and staged an annual winter solstice celebration, or soyal. So important was the soyal that its leadership was always entrusted to a high official, usually the town's chief.

Kachinas are believed to reside with the tribe for half of each year. They will allow themselves to be seen by a community if its men properly perform a traditional ritual while wearing kachina masks and other regalia. The spirit-being depicted on the mask is thought to be actually present with or within the performer, temporarily transforming him. Kachinas are also depicted in small, heavily ornamented carved-wood dolls, which are traditionally made by the men of a tribe and presented to girls; boys receive bows and arrows. These wooden dolls are used to teach the identities of the kachinas and the symbolism of their regalia. The identity of the spirit is depicted not by the form of the doll's body, which is usually simple and flat, but primarily by the applied colour and elaborate feather, leather, and, occasionally, fabric ornamentation of its mask.






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Menhalom speak Chamjasksta

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