Many Faces of Gender: Roles and Relationships through Time in Indigenous Northern Communities

Many Faces of Gender: Roles and Relationships through Time in Indigenous Northern Communities

Many Faces of Gender: Roles and Relationships through Time in Indigenous Northern Communities

Many Faces of Gender: Roles and Relationships through Time in Indigenous Northern Communities

Synopsis

Many Faces of Gender is an interdisciplinary volume that addresses the dearth in descriptions and analyses of gender roles and relationships in Native societies in North America's boreal reaches. This collection complements existing conceptual frameworks and develops new methodological and theoretical approaches that more fully articulate the complex nature of social, economic, political, and material relationships between indigenous men and women in this region.

The contributors challenge the widespread notion that Native women's and men's roles are frozen in time, a concept precluding the possibility of differently constructed gender categories and changing power relations and roles through time. By examining the pre-historical, historical, and modern records, they demonstrate that these roles are not fixed and have indeed gradually transformed.

Many Faces of Gender is ideal for anthropologists and archaeologists interested in cross-disciplinary studies of gender, households, women, and lithics.

Excerpt

Gender equality has been described in several hunting-gathering societies (Draper 1975; Schlegel 1977), but no one so far as I know has described gender equality operating in a society that is part of an industrialized nation. Indeed, Eleanor Leacock (1978) wrote that such equality was impossible in a complex society. She believed gender equality and industrialization were incompatible.

On the Colville Indian Reservation in north-central Washington, however, gender equality and industrialization do appear together in the same society. The people of the reservation are descended from Indians who had a fishing-gathering-hunting culture in which the practice of gender equality was not only present but necessary. Women provided at least 50 percent of the society's subsistence, and their other functions were extremely important in keeping the economy and other cultural systems viable.

The modern period of Colville culture is rooted in the Euro-American conquest of the Plateau Culture Area, which is a fairly recent event. Plateau Indians were forced to sign treaties in 1855, consenting to be placed on reservations. When the Colville Reservation was formed in 1872, eleven tribes/bands were eventually located on it, but they shared the same culture; that is, they were all Plateau Indians. Traditional Plateau cultures became very similar as a result of the extensive intermarriage . . .

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