Magazine article Feminist Collections: A Quarterly of Women's Studies Resources

Jennie R. Joe & Francine C. Gachupin, Eds., Health and Social Issues of Native American Women

Magazine article Feminist Collections: A Quarterly of Women's Studies Resources

Jennie R. Joe & Francine C. Gachupin, Eds., Health and Social Issues of Native American Women

Article excerpt

Jennie R. Joe & Francine C. Gachupin, eds., HEALTH AND SOCIAL ISSUES OF NATIVE AMERICAN WOMEN. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger/ABC-CLIO, 2012. 289p. bibl. illus. index. $48.00, ISBN 978-0313397134; ebook, ISBN 9780313397141.

Anchored firmly with numerous and weighty references, this text fills a gap in both the feminist literature relating to Native women and the scholarly literature concerning the health of Native peoples, especially women. Natives are identified here as AIAN-- that is, U.S. American Indian/Alaska Native; curiously, the Native peoples of Hawaii are not included at all.

Native women are seen in an evolving perspective--"The political influence of AIAN women in many tribes is noteworthy and still increasing" (p. 24)--while a thorough grounding in tribal identity remains: "Native women's ... positions of authority can ... be seen as an inevitable evolution of their traditional care-taking role" (p. 26). Overall, poverty and forced assimilation are shown to be root causes of ill health, both physical and mental, among Native peoples. The U.S. government is shown to be a consistently and overwhelmingly negative force in Native People's lives and, at root, the basic cause of great harm, especially to women. A careful chronology of the ill effects of governmental policy on Native people's health concludes, "From the time of contact with Columbus, a myriad of historic events and government interventions have shaped current AIAN health disparities for both men and women" (p. 75).

Entire chapters then present solid and well-supported essays on various aspects of Native women's lives. Chapter 4 is devoted to Alaska Native women, covering four decades of change in their lives and circumstances, beginning with economic change: "The 1970s brought dramatic changes to Alaska and to Alaska Natives with the discovery and development of oil on the North Slope" (p. …

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