How Have the Roles of Women Changed in Native Communities?

Women have always played an integral part in decisions, such as when the tribe moved from one place to another and even who was selected to certain societies. Not until modern times have women been selected to take the position of “Chief” and been given equal stature to men in their tribes. Recent examples have been Wilma Mankiller of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, and Marge Anderson of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. Sky Woman was the first to appear in the Creation stories of Eastern tribes, whereas for Plains tribes it was Buffalo Calf Woman who became the spiritual guide. By most standards and amongst most tribes, women made the decisions due to their knowledge as keepers of tradition and ceremony and their demeanor; women were the decision makers and the men carried out the decision and received the credit. Women were also held in the highest esteem due to their sole power of procreation.

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