Native American Women in the Colonial Era: Women’s History Month, Part 6

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Episode Description:
Europeans were surprised that Native American women had so much power and influence, particularly within the Haudenosaunee nations. In those nations, women held political power within the tribes, appointing and removing chiefs at their discretion.

Script for Native American Women in the Colonial Era: Women’s History Month, Part 6



When Europeans first made contact with Native American tribes, they were surprised at the differences between the roles of women in their cultures and the indigenous cultures of America.


For example, a Dutch minister wrote in 1644 about his contact with the Mohawks.


"The Women are obliged to prepare the Land, to mow, to plant, and do every Thing: the Men do nothing except hunting, fishing, and going to War against their enemies."


Although it is difficult to generalize because of the great diversity among tribes, Native women contributed to the good of the community by farming, gathering food, and raising children.


Some tribes were matrilineal, meaning that membership in one of the tribe's clans was determined through the woman's family.


This was the case for the nations of the Haudenosaunee, or the Iroquois Confederacy of the Northeastern region.  


In some tribes, women played an important political role, with Haudenosaunee women appointing chiefs and removing them from office if necessary. 


This has been 60-Second Civics, a podcast of the Center for Civic Education.


I’m Mark Gage.



Copyright Center for Civic Education. 

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