Transnational Perspectives on the History of Great Plains Women: Gender, Race, Nations, and the Forty-Ninth Parallel

By Carter, Sarah | American Review of Canadian Studies, Winter 2003 | Go to article overview

Transnational Perspectives on the History of Great Plains Women: Gender, Race, Nations, and the Forty-Ninth Parallel


Carter, Sarah, American Review of Canadian Studies


"History is sadly truncated if national historians travel without passports and stop investigating when the subject reaches the 49th parallel," writes Jan Noel in her introduction to a recent collection of articles that focus on race and gender in the intertwined histories of the border colonies of seventeenth and eighteenth century eastern North America. (1) There is enormous potential for similar work on cross-border history in the regions to the west of the colonies of the Noel collection. The modest goal of this article is to create interest in transnational approaches to the northern Great Plains region of the Canadian and U.S. Wests by drawing on examples from my past, present, and future areas of research that focus on Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women's and gender history within the context of imperialism of the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries. "Transnational" histories question the nation-centered focus of history, and they encompass and blend diverse approaches and perspectives including comparative and borderlands history, analysis of boundary-crossing people, ideas and institutions, and examination of the ways in which national borders were ignored, contested and manipulated. (2) A transnational approach to the Great Plains permits fresh perspectives on the history of colonized and colonial women and on gendered and racial dimensions of nation-making. Many recent studies have shown that the gendering of imperialism took different forms in different parts of the world, although there were also shared features. (3) The Great Plains provides a unique opportunity to examine a region in which two nations' institutionalization of gender and race difference, that limited and legitimized peoples' access to the resources of the nation state, took divergent forms, while sharing some features, in the same part of the world, although one bisected by a border.

The field of Aboriginal women's history cannot be narrowly grounded in the nation state. The territory of many Aboriginal nations including the Plains Cree, Blackfoot, Assiniboine, Dakota, Lakota, and Ojibway, spanned the 49th parallel. Yet most historians, as Beth LaDow has commented, "tend to divide the American story from the Canadian along this boundary, as if it split the past as neatly as a meat cleaver." (4) Aboriginal people are neatly categorized as "Canadian" or "American," and are dropped from each nation's narrative once they cross the line, skewing understanding of experiences and identities that pre-date, transcend and ignore the border. One of the most prominent of the women of the mid-nineteenth-century Great Plains, Natoyist-Siksina', Holy Snake, (known in her lifetime and since to English speakers as Natawista) has been relegated to a realm oustide of history because of her Aboriginal and transnational status. She is virtually unknown today in non-Aboriginal Canada, although she is one of few women to have an entry in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography. (5) While much of her life was spent in the American West, she was born in what became Canada in 1825, lived there for the last twenty years of her life, died on the Blood Reserve in 1893, and is buried at Stand Off, Alberta. Natoyist-Siksina' was a Kainai (Blood) woman who was born, likely near Lethbridge, Alberta, to Two Suns, chief of the Fish Eaters band, and Red Deer Woman. (6) At the age of fifteen she married Alexander Culbertson, chief trader for the Upper Missouri Outfit of the American Fur Company (figure 1). A description of this marriage was written by anthropologist Lewis Henry Morgan, who met the couple in 1862 and noted in his journal that "When Culbertson obtained his Blackfoot wife he sent 9 horses to his wife's eldest brother. He told his men to hitch them at his lodge and to ask for the girl as his wife. She was sent to him the next day the brother returned nine other horses as a present to Culbertson. It is customary for the brother to distribute the presents among the relatives, and for the relatives to return presents to the groom.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Transnational Perspectives on the History of Great Plains Women: Gender, Race, Nations, and the Forty-Ninth Parallel
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.