Indeed, non-support of wife and children seems to be a sin of civilization rather than of savagery. The principle of both having a wife and providing for her wants appears to have been one of the very earliest among all peoples. With the Iroquois Indians, it was the bounden duty of the husband to make the mat, repair the wigwam, or build a new one, and provide for the hunger of his family. The product of his first year's hunting, and trapping, belonged of right to the wife; and afterwards he divided it equally with her, whether she remained in the village or accompanied him to the chase.1
If this were a book that ladies could reach, how they would enjoy that I Just think! The entire first year's earnings of their husbands would belong to them—that is, if they were squaws and their husbands Iroquois bucks!
Among the Fuegians, according to Admiral Fitzroy, as soon as a youth is able to maintain a wife by his exertions, fishing or bird-catching, he obtains the consent of her relatives, but not before;3 and among the utterly rude Botocudos, where it is a rule to marry the girls in infancy, almost, she remaining in her father's house until old enough for the sexual embrace, the young husband is nevertheless compelled to support his wife, though living apart from her.1 Here, also, the white lord of creation may find a lesson.
So inviolable is the rule of parental protection among savage races, that in the Encounter-Bay tribe, as recorded by Meyer, if the father die before the child is born, the latter is at once put to death by the mother, there being no longer any one to provide for it.4
Among the cannibals of New Britain, it is the business of the chiefs to see that the families of the warriors are properly maintained;5 and in the Tonga Islands, a married woman is one who cohabits with a man, and lives under his roof and protection.8 In Samoa, whatever sexual intercourse may be between a man and woman, she does not become his wife until he takes her to his house, and assumes guardianship over her;7 and among the Maoris, Johnston says, the mission of woman was to increase and multiply, and that of man to provide for and defend.