Native American Women

The role of Native American women varied from tribe to tribe. However, they were typically more highly regarded than were their European counterparts.

In most cases, the women were actually in charge of gathering materials and then building the homes for everyone. They maintained their homes' roof, and created new houses for tribes to live in. This is an astonishing achievement, particularly for the women of their time. The men knew that women were the source of life, and provided a feeling of strength and consistency to their lives. The women in Native American tribes often helped their men to hunt down buffalo. Then, when the buffalo were harvested, the women were responsible for skinning, cutting, and cooking the animal. They also gathered firewood, cooked, and repaired clothing and shoes.

The Lethbridge Undergraduate Research Journal has an online paper that details the past, present, and future of Native American women. In the paper, the misconception that Native American women have historically been thought of as little more than slaves is discussed. This faulty assumption is possibly due to the subservient status of women in Europe. The role of the Iroquois women in the political structure of the tribe is covered as is the inherent power attributed to the Blackfoot women.

The BBC has provides more information on how women of the Iroquois League were able to influence major decisions. Iroquois women were able to elect the men who sat on the ruling council and use some actions to preempt decisions they did not approve of.

PBS details many of the roles of Navajo women. The Navajo are traditionally a matrilineal society, which means identity and affiliations are passed through the mother.

The Cherokee women had an even more prominent role in daily life. All family ties were that of the mother. Additionally the mother was considered the head of the household. A family tree is provided, as well as a link to the key, to help people visualize these connections.

The role of women in Native American cultures varied much more than the roles of women in Europe. The rights of women in North America varied, but most of the women did have more power and privileges than the women across the ocean.

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