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The Importance Of Women In The Colonial World

2720 words - 11 pages

The Importance of Women in the Colonial World

Women's importance in the colonial world was an ever-changing process.
They were seen as

equals in early Native society but over the years women's roles have
changed drastically. The books one

has studied have great influence on how people view women in the past
but others have little. Women

have played a role from the earliest times even before written
language, among the Natives, in their

stories and legends of women beings. Women once had a role in every
aspect of human lives but as the

colonists and religious leaders from other countries started to
migrate there role was changed and never

reestablished. Women have important roles to play in their own
societies.

Eleanor Burke Leacock's, Myths of Male Dominance: Collective articles
on Women Cross-

Culturally (Monthly Review Press New York and London, 1981),
beautifully describes the importance

of native women and their roles. Leacock points out that "universal
male dominance is myth not fact"[1]

and because this book contains articles by different authors, one gets
a wide variety of works that each

encourage and represent women in different areas. The authors
illustrate native women before and

during colonial times by discussing gender roles, the evolution of
society, and male dominance

ideology. Leacock gathered articles that directly represent women's
roles in an economic position as in

horticulture and land ownership, and their high status in their own
tribe. She also goes through the

struggles and hardships some societies of native women had to go
through.

In the book American Indian Holocaust and Survival: A Population
History Since 1492, by

Russell Thornton (University of Oklahoma Press, 1987) native women are
scarcely mentioned.

Thornton discusses women very briefly and is more interested in the
native society as a whole. Women

are mentioned in areas of the book containing fertility declines, the
Cheyenne flight in which women and children were brutally murdered,
the 1870 Ghost Dance, health care, and intermarriage. Women's

importance is irrelevant to their male counterparts, for both native
and European settlers, of the time.

Thornton writes on their struggles but fails to mention any impact it
may have had on the women

directly. This book is written from the male perspective and gives
women little credit for the important

role they played in their own civilizations.

American Indian Mythology (Thomas Y. Crowell Company, New York, 1968)
by authors Alice

Marriott and Carol K. Rachlin is a novel of collected myths and
stories about native culture. The stories

explain how materials in the real and superficial world came to be and
most revolve around the lives of

young men....

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