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Native American Women

Uploaded by Admin on Mar 12, 1999

On few subjects has there been such continual misconception as on the position of women among Indians. Because she was active, always busy in the camp, often carried heavy burdens, attended to the household duties, made the clothing and the home, and prepared the family food, the woman has been depicted as the slave of her husband, a patient beast of encumbrance whose labors were never done. The man, on the other hand, was said to be an loaf, who all day long sat in the shade of the lodge and smoked his pipe, while his overworked wives attended to his comfort. In actuality, the woman was the man's partner, who preformed her share of the obligations of life and who employed an influence quite as important as his, and often more powerful. Native Americans established primary relationships either through a clan system, descent from a common ancestor, or through a friendship system, much like tribal societies in other parts of the world. In the Choctaw nation, " Moieties were subdivided into several nontotemic, exogamous, matrilineal 'kindred' clans, called iksa." (Faiman-Silva, 1997, p.8) The Cheyenne tirbe also traced their ancestry through the woman's lineage. Moore (1996, p. 154) shows this when he says "Such marriages, where the groomcomes to live in the bride's band, are called 'matrilocal'." Leacock (1971, p. 21) reveals that "...prevailing opinion is that hunting societies would be patrilocal.... Matrilineality, it is assumed, followed the emergence of agriculture...." Leacock (p. 21) then stated that she had found the Montagnais-Naskapi, a hunting society, had been matrilocal until Europeans stepped in. "The Tanoan Pueblos kinship system is bilateral. The household either is of the nuclear type or is extended to include relatives of one or both parents...." (Dozier, 1971, p. 237) The statuses and roles for men and women varied considerably among Native Americans, depending on each tribe's cultural orientations. In matrilineal and matrilocal societies, women had considerable power because property, housing, land, and tools, belonged to them. Because property usually passed from mother to daughter, and the husband joined his wife's family, he was more of a stranger and yielded authority to his wife's eldest brother. As a result, the husband was unlikely to become an authoritative, domineering figure. Moreover, among such peoples as the Cherokee, Iroquois, and Pueblo, a disgruntled wife, secure in her possessions, could simply divorce her husband by tossing his belongings out of their residence....

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Uploaded by:   Admin

Date:   03/12/1999

Category:   American History

Length:   5 pages (1,146 words)

Views:   1417

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