Want to learn more about female Native American Indians? Read on to find out about the role of women in Native American culture…
There is much misconception regarding the role of women in the Native American Indian Culture. It is true that the women conducted a host of house hold chores including stitching the clothing, cleaning, cooking etc but by no means were the female Native American Indians subjugated as being the slaves of the men.
The truth about women in the Native American culture is quite the contrary. The woman was literally and figuratively believed to be the other half of the man. They were the equal in terms of being human beings but they were not the same with respect to the responsibilities that they carried. While the man was responsible for the maintenance and protection of the woman, the woman in turn fulfilled her share of responsibilities which would contribute to a happy household. In truth the role of the woman in building the Native American society was equally as important as the man.
The Natives had a very orthodox way of developing primary relationships. They were done on the clan system or through friendship as it is done in normal tribal culture. To the credit of the female Native American Indians is the fact that some of the tribes like the Choctaw nation would actually trace their lineage through the women.
The role of the women varied with each tribe as each tribe had its own customs and traditions in place. In general the matriclocal and matrilineal tribes gave the woman a considerable amount of power. This was largely due to the fact that they were allowed ownership of property, land, housing, tools and other tangible items.
According to tradition, property would be passed on from the mother to her daughter. When a man got married to such a woman he would not gain the right over the property. Rather he would have to yield the power to his wife’s eldest brother. This restricted the man from becoming an authoritative figure in the home. In fact the wife had the freedom and power to divorce her husband at will and could throw all of his belongings out of her house.
The role of the women was not limited to inside their homes. Rather in matrilineal societies the women had a considerable influence in matters of tribal governance as well. Examples of such societies include the Iroquois. In such societies all religious and civil offices were kept in accordance with maternal lineages. Any individual made in charge of a public responsibility was to be removed if the women were dissatisfied by the individual’s conduct. Rather than performing the actual business of the government the women played the checking and balancing role.
It was from observing the practice of the hunting and warfare tribes that people developed the negative stereotypical picture of the role of women in Native American culture. In the Northeastern Woodland regions you would find the men to be relaxing after being totally taxed out due to hunting and warring responsibilities and the women getting the work done. This scenario gave the observers a wrong image of the role of women in Native American Indian society.