Indian With Time: From Dust Till Dawn

1138 words - 5 pages

When the Europeans landed their boats off the east coast of North America, they gazed at a land of seeming uninhabited nature and beauty, for which they deemed would bring them a “bounty of wealth.” To their surprise upon arriving to shore, they realized that they were not alone but instead outnumbered, at first, by hundreds of native tribes. Not only were the Europeans surprised to find individuals living in the area; they were outraged and disused by how the Native American Society operated. To the Europeans eyes, the structure of Native American society lacked the complexity of their own traditional community. Little did they know, the native tribes’ gender roles and division of labor were actually immensely advanced and efficient, especially in terms of the women’s status in the Native American societies. Whereas married women in Western Europe at the time were very domesticate and held few rights to property, occupation, family wealth, and children, women of the Eastern Woodland tribes had vastly superior autonomy and power over their conditions of labor, reproductive rights, and property. In some tribes, native women served as key representatives in their tribal councils, and held natural rights over the land upon which they lived. Although “women’s work” was rubbished in European cultures, Native women’s daily contributions and hard work ethic were recognized by Native men and thus the tribe uniformly viewed women as a whole as being vital to the prosperity of the community and worthy of respect.
The English colonist made their first permanent settlements along the coastal areas, for that allowed them easier access to seafood and trade ports. The English society believed in a gender hierarchy in which male domination over women was critical to preserving social order. In a quote by writer Thomas Lemont, “a mans ordained power over the woman runs smoothly like that of a well ordered monarchy.” The English men were responsible for environment alterations through plow agriculture, construction of rock walls and buildings, and the mass hunting of animals. English men also owned the land, while English women did so only when no husband or father figure remained. Despite few exceptions, English women were responsible for the domestic production of gardening, cloth spinning, and dairying. The women only worked in the fields when there was a dire need, such as during the months of harvest. Their primary role was domestic and according to English idea at the time, to maintain a modest and delicate demeanor. In contrast, the men’s role was primarily economic, and in the English societal views, the men were to conduct themselves with assertiveness and to always have authority over women.
The typical Native American tribes’ division of labor was based on the idea that the females were the “sustainers of life” and the males as the “warrior gods.” The women were responsible for providing nearly eighty percent of the calories consumed by their...

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