Gender Roles in Native American Tribes

Gender Roles in Native American Tribes

Native American tribes, nations and cultures are as varied as those of any other "ethnic classification" in the world. The cultures of Native Americans varied from the nomadic, subsistence lifestyles of the Great Plains to the vast cities filled with art and culture of Latin America and everything in between. No generalization can be made about any part of Native American culture, including gender roles, though a basic overview of women's roles in the various nations can serve as a starting point for further research.

Women were an essential part of Native American cultures - in most nations, day-to-day activities included everyone save the very young. A woman's duties began while still clinging to her mother's skirts, learning what conduct and responsibilities would be expected of her. Throughout her adult years, she would fill the role required in her specific nation, generally including the care of children and the home, making weapons and clothing, and preparing food. In her old age, she would continue serving the rest of the community by offering advice to younger women and to men who were having any difficulties in their lives with wives and female relatives. This advice was repaid by the community in the form of prepared food, clothing, and other necessities that she may no longer be able to acquire for herself. Many nations gave elderly women the responsibility of watching very young children while their parents were out attending to their other duties, again repaid by the provision of necessities.



It is great to know that Women played a bigger role in their nation than just someone to just have babies, clean the home and cook meals. I have learned that they can be warrior, medicine woman and leaders.

Michele Flannery

Thank you for furthering my education of Native women’s role in each clan. Looking forward to more articles like these.

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