Blog 3: Indigenous Gender Roles

According to the text, “Gender and Cultural Diversity in the Early Contact Period” gender in Indigenous cultures was very equal in comparison to the Western World. Men were usually in charge of hunting large game and warfare. On the other hand, women still played an important role by trapping animals and fishing. They prepared the food every night and made clothing for their family. They made sure their families had shelter and took care of the kids. The major leaders were usually men, however women’s opinions and perspectives were heard and respected on important decisions. In some cases, such as the clans along the Great Lakes, the husband lived with the wife’s family and contributed to it by giving them the meat that he would catch hunting during the day. Once the animals were caught; the women of the longhouses would decide how the meat would be split and prepared. In other clans, women were symbolic figures in religious ceremonies, and they would perform the Sun Dance. Another aspect that is brought to the table throughout the paper is gender relations. For example, gender relations were very important for the Innuits of northern Quebec. Bonds came together during winter and would intermarry to forge stronger partnerships which would lead to cooperation and mutual support. These bonds depended on gender relations and were only possible through those marriages. Gender relations were also important during New France. The French civil law was a powerful way of bearing o gender relations. They created les Filles du Roi which was a system that allowed unwanted women in France to move to New France and marry the men living in the New World.

There were similarities between the Indigenous people gender roles and the Western World gender roles. Just as the Natives, women in New France were not as important as men, however they did play important roles in society. For example, nuns were very important because of their major role in the development of education, social services, medicine and many more. I mentioned before how Indigenous men were masters, however the women’s opinions were heard. It was the same case in the Western World, however only for women of high rank. High class women had informal political power which meant they gave their advice on a situation to their husband who was the leader. Women had administrative and estate duties, however had no leader power. To continue, there were many differences between the Indigenous people and the Western people. Women in Aboriginal societies had more status and authority than most European counterparts. The Western World follows a patrilineal and patriarchal lifestyle which is very different from Indigenous beliefs. Also, it was okay for men to have more than one wife which was against religion for Europeans. Another aspect that shocked the Western people was the fact that sex before marriage was normal for the Natives and they could choose their own spouse.

Aspects that struck me the most were in the section of the Indigenous people who lived along the Great Lakes. They adopted political systems to their societies and had a confederacy council made up of only men. No female took part in this political system; however, the men were chosen by senior women. What impressed me was the fact that women were in charge of choosing who was worthy of those high positions. Females had a considerable status and authority with matrilineal societies which meant that the descent was traced by female line. Also, women had a high power in the longhouses because of their vital role in life which was the capability of reproducing. Another aspect that surprised me was how important buffalos were for the people living in the Interior Plains. Men oversaw hunting the large game and warfare. On the other hand, women oversaw buffalo economy and traditional healing.

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