The mother nurses the child until it is three years old. In some instances she begins to give it once in a while a little pinole when it is only six months old. When two years of age a child begins to walk and to talk. Sometimes when the mother is busy, for instance at the metate, and will not stop to nurse him, the little rascal may take a stick and in his way try to beat her.
The Tarahumare woman is a faithful mother, and takes good care of her children. She generally has from six to eight, often more. While small the children play with primitive dolls. They dress up corn-cobs with scraps of textiles and put them upright in the sand, saying that they are matachines and drunken women. They also play, like other children, with beans and acorns, or with young chickens with their legs tied together. Of course the youngsters maltreat these. Sometimes they play, too, with stuffed squirrels, but there are no special children’s games. The father makes bows and arrows for the boys, and instructs them in hunting and agricultural work. As the girls grow up, the mother teaches them how to spin yarn and weave blankets, “for,” she tells them, “otherwise they will become men.” She also warns them not to have children too rapidly in succession, for there is no one to carry them for her. Women cannot eat the tenderloin until they are very old, because if they did they could have no children. For the same reason they must not eat the pancreas. The women who fear lest they may have difficulty in giving birth to a child make soup of an opossum and eat it. Girls must not touch deer antlers, or their breasts would fall off.
A characteristic custom is that the children, no matter how old they get, and even after they are married and have families of their own, never help themselves to anything in the parents’ house. The mother has to give all the food, etc., and she gives as long as she has anything.
Parents never inflict corporal punishment upon the young people. If a boy does not behave himself, he gets scolded, and his father’s friends may also remonstrate with him at a feast. Otherwise, the children grow up entirely independent, and if angry a boy may even strike his father. A girl will never go so far, but when scolded will pout and weep and complain that she is unjustly treated. How different is this from the way in which, for instance, Chinese children treat their parents! It does not favour much the theory that the American Indians originally came from Asia.
Many Kinds of Games Among the Tarahumares—Betting and Gambling—Foot-races the National Sport—The Tarahumares are the Greatest Runners in the World—Divinations for the Race—Mountains of Betting Stakes—Women’s Races.