Native American Gender Roles

883 Words4 Pages
Native Americans’ social structure was very different from the way Anglo-American’s believed was the correct way for men and women to live. This created a major conflict as the Anglo’s begin to press on the Natives’ land. Anglo-American’s believed that the best thing for the Natives’ was to be assimilated and transformed into their way of life. The Anglo’s intervened into the Natives’ life with a Civilization Program, removal and reservations, and boarding schools. The ramifications had lasting negative effects on the Natives’ gender roles. One of the earliest attempts to change the Natives’ gender roles was Thomas Jefferson’s Civilization Program during the late 18th century and early 19th century. In addition to changing the roles of…show more content…
Native’s from all over the country were removed from their homelands and put on smaller pieces of land reserved for their tribe or band. They were forbidden to practice their traditional ways and was forced to survive off of government rations provided once a month. Furthermore, instead of the Natives’ bands owning the land in general the government forced them to be signed allotments for individualism. All of these aspects combined took a negative toll on gender roles in the Native society. The men could no longer hunt or farm as irrigation was difficult and the soil was not fertile. The men could not provide for their families even in the way the Anglo’s had previously forced them to do so. Women were still supposed to go through a series of domestic lessons to learn how to take care of the children and the home. Everyone on the reservations became poor and malnourished as they had to line up once a month to try to get their ration of food for their families (Hudson, Lecture 18). It was demeaning and an insult to the Natives’ sovereignty. As everyone struggled for survival, gender roles within the weak social structure…show more content…
government on the Native society was boarding schools that began in the late 19th century. Native children, as young as five years old, were taken from their families off the reservations thousands of miles away to boarding schools. One of those boarding schools was the Carlisle Industrial School, which opened in 1880, founded by Captain Richard Harry Pratt. The sole purpose of these schools was to assimilate the next generation of Native’s into the Anglo society. The boys were taught mechanical and agriculture skills, while the girls were taught domestic lessons such as sewing and cleaning. They were all taught to devalue their own people and traditions. The conditions were brutal as the children were beaten if they spoke their own language. They were not fed well, as many Native children died from malnutrition as well as disease and abuse (Hudson, Lecture 18). “Once I lost a dear classmate. I remember well how she used to mope along at my side, until one morning she could not raise her head from her pillow. At her deathbed I stood weeping, as a paleface woman sat near her moistening the dry lips (Calloway, 430).” Zitkala-Sa describes the death of one her classmates at the Carlisle boarding school in 1921 while still very young (Calloway, 428). The boarding schools started a chain reaction of the Native children not learning their own language or traditions, cutting hair, and the gender roles reflecting the Anglo-Americans. These

More about Native American Gender Roles

Open Document