The Roles and Duties of Native American Women in Their Spiritual Socie

Topics: Native Americans in the United States, Transgender, Gender role Pages: 3 (1091 words) Published: March 22, 2004
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. 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...

Cited: Finch, John. "Women Work Harder Than Men." Cultural Survival Quarterly 31
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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
Native American Women - Intro Page. The Denver Public Library 1995: 3 pars. Online. Database. 18 Feb. 2004. Available
Schulz, Diane R. "Speaking to Survival." Awakened Woman 19 Aug. 2001: 11 pars. On-line. Internet. 18 Feb. 2004. Available
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