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In Melanesia for example, they traditionally believed that the fertility of the ocean is what impregnated a woman, and explained that children sometimes looked like their mother's husbands, because the child will take on the form of those nearest to the mother while it was developing in the womb.I'm not sure if this holds true as much in Cherokee society however, as there were strict laws against incest, and they recognized marrying someone from your biological father's clan as incest, as well as from your mother's clan.In fact, most Cherokee men wouldn't argue over adulterous women because it was deemed to be "beneath" them (Louis-Philippe).Sexual encounters would, indeed, occur in the beanfields and other places of a relatively private nature (Purdue).I'll discuss that in another post, but here, I'll just mention that among the Northern Iroquoians there was a tradition of almost-marriages before actual-marriages, a distinction frequently lost on Euro-Americans.Whether their Southern Iroquoian cousins shared this tradition once upon a time, I can't say.According to Charles Hudson's 1976 book The Southeastern Indians, drawing from James Mooney's ethnographic work, in general in the region a young man would send his mother's sister to speak to a young woman's mother's sister.

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That was another thing Euro-American missionaries complained about all the time.The "volatile" influences of semen / bodily fluids might be a better choice of words--such fluids on their own aren't unclean, but in the wrong contextual mix their influence becomes unpredictable and potential harmful.Dalliances in the fields were blamed for the rise of post-contact epidemics, for example.If the matrilineage liked the idea, they would send word back to the boy's matrilineage.However, although they arranged the marriages, the girl had final word, and her consent was required."Southeastern Indians' favorite places for sexual episodes were corn cribs, corn fields, and bean patches." (Page 198).While such activities were acceptable in Cherokee society early on, it was a common complaint among the Euro-American missionaries that were trying to establish schools in the area.Cherokee historian James Adair also understood Cherokee women to be allowed the honor of promiscuity, noting that there were no punishments for adulterous women.Purdue cites the "pollutiing" influence of semen (and bodily fluids in general) as the reason for this.I'm not a big fan of using the word "polluting" here, as it implies a certain connotation.While pre-marital sex was fairly common, after marriage there was an expectation that sex would remain within the confines of the marriage.But, as Snorri said, there was usually no mechanism of punishing either party if they went outside the marriage, except divorce which was readily available for either partner (though women were said to fight more fiercely if some extraneous lover tried to steal her husband away).

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