With Native Americans being the first inhabitants of North America, many people often question what traditions they have created on their own, before the ideas of the pale settlers. When taking a look into their interesting beliefs, it is obvious to see an intricate basis or animals and spirits that guide the lifestyles of Indians all over the country. Even their society had a special way of doing things, including gender roles of both men and women. There are many customs that have seemed odd to the average American throughout the centuries, but Indians found these a normal way of life. Even the lifestyles of Native Americans were unique, from hunting animals to tanning buffalo hides. Gender was a major factor in the duties that were expected.
Native American women had some power over men, they were restricted to maintain their roles and duties in their tribe, and were expected to continue the spiritual ways of Native American life. The women’s strongest source of power was to bear children, a power centered around the menstrual cycle. A girl’s first period marked an occasion for her seclusion to a tepee with other menstruating women to separate them from the rest of the tribe. The first period also was marked as very significant, because during the time, her dreams held special significance for her future, followed by a ceremony that was either a family or tribal acknowledgment of her new status as a marriageable woman. Men feared the power of menstrual blood, hence the ritual of seclusion. It was believed that women’s blood could destroy the power of a man’s weapons in hunting.
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Men even avoided traveling paths that might be walked on by menstruating women (Schulz).
The fear came from the fact that men had no way of controlling or influencing menstruation. It was a uniquely female experience, and the power of birthing that it represented was greater than the power of the spiritual beings that were men’s guardians. The roles of men and women were very distinct throughout a tribe.
The role of men was to hunt, to defend their lands and families, to debate in public forums, and to lead the community’s religious life. The role of women was to gather and prepare food, provide clothing and shelter, bear and raise children, and maintain the home. Depending on the amount of food that women produced, their status in their society was greater or lesser. Sadly, most men and women in Indian societies spent a great deal of time apart. While some men went to out to hunt, others spent significant amounts of time together preparing for and taking part in ceremonial activities. Women gathered food in groups; they had their own societies for ceremonial activity.
They raised their children together until the children were about six or seven, at which point boys generally were sent to spend time with male relatives to be taught their roles in life. Girls remained with their mothers, learning the roles that they would eventually endeavor (Finch 44).
Standards for women’s behavior were strict. Women bore and raised children. Public praise focused on their reputations for hard work, productivity in tanning hides, making pottery or exquisite quill work, or constructing buffalo-skin tepees.
Most importantly, Native American women were critiqued for the actions of the children that they raised. These were the most lasting contributions that women made to society; therefore they reflected most favorably on them as individuals (Native).
Therefore, to have a good reputation among their peers, their children had to behave well. The experience of vision seeking was characteristic of many but not all tribes. The seeker was sent out after having been instructed on what to expect.
In this paper I will review four articles, one movie, and one experiment conducted in class. The issue's all this information covers is sex differences and the degree to which they exists in men and women and why they are present. There will be varying points of view for all these issues with each article having its own studies or theory 's to support its beliefs. The method for presenting this ...
The person was often purified with a sweat bath and told to fast and pray for four days. After that, the nature of vision questing differs among tribes. In some areas vision quests were expected of all males; in some areas females were also expected to go on quests, like in the Winnebagos and the Ojibwas tribes in the Northeast (Kidwell).
In those societies, the quest put an individual in direct contact with spiritual powers. Men and women had access to power through contact with the spiritual world. For Native Americans, spiritual beings were one category and human beings were in another.
Humans were able to communicate with those spiritual beings, and they could thus establish relationships with them and gain influence or control over them. This affected the outcome of events in their own lives or those of others. Some spiritual powers were associated with healing, and special efforts would allow a person to become a healer. Women did not use such powers during their childbearing years, but when the power of the menstrual cycle ended, the latent power of curing that they might have acquired became fully active. Many women learned about herbal medicines from elderly men relatives, who teach in exchange for a favor.
A woman might go to a curer to learn about specific plants that had curing power in exchange for goods or services. The Native American woman was limited in her status in the tribe due to the roles and duties they learned while growing up in a spiritual Indian setting. The roles and behaviors of both men and women were congealed, and were not to be changed or altered within the tribe. Also, most members of a tribe acknowledged a spiritual being at some point in their lifetime. The women were also very important because of their menstruation cycles, which individualized the woman, making her a very powerful member of the community. Although the Native American people had different and unique ways of thinking, they should be respected as a community.
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By analyzing the different lifestyles that men and women lived in, it is obvious to see the significant differences between the roles of both men and women. Works Cited Finch, John. ‘Women Work Harder Than Men.’ Cultural Survival Quarterly 31 Oct. 1992: 44. Kidwell, Clara S.
Reader’s Companion to U. S. Women’s History – – Native American Cultures. Houghton Mifflin Company 2003: 13 pars. Online. Internet.
17 Feb. 2004. Available web 026300 2. htm Native American Women – Intro Page. The Denver Public Library 1995: 3 pars. Online.
Database. 18 Feb. 2004. Available web Diane R. ‘Speaking to Survival.’ Awakened Woman 19 Aug. 2001: 11 pars.
On-line. Internet. 18 Feb. 2004. Available web women.