Historical Challenges That Native American Women Have Faced Essays

Historical Challenges That Native American Women Have Faced Essays

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Martha Garcia and Paula Gunn Allen both write in their essays of the challenges that Native American women have historically faced and continue to confront to this day. Major contributors to these challenges are the stereotypes and misconceptions by white male anthropologists and missionaries who studied the Native American tribes and found the women subservient and passive. Both of these authors strongly disagree in this characterization of Native American women and instead portray them as important and honored members of their tribes who will struggle but will continue to have a tremendous impact on the future of their tribes. Garcia’s research concentrates on previously published works on Cheyenne women by white men and reexamines these studies through a feminine point of view. As these white men migrated West, they recorded their observations. Unfortunately their reports were flawed and biased because the white men’s access was limited due to their outsider status and gender. These early observations reported Native American women performed menial work for the tribe such as berry picking. Garcia notes that what these men did not realize and understand was the rich communal life these women shared while berry picking. These men were also not aware of the culturally valued norms of feminine behavior such as modesty, kindness and being private, which led them to see these women as passive and subservient. The Cheyenne women were simply possessing the natural tribal values encouraged for women. By looking at the reports through a feminine lens, Garcia found that Cheyenne women have historically held an extremely important role within their culture, especially in their religious ceremonies. Cheyenne w...

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...thirsty savages. These men are fulfilling the white man’s vision of the savage Indian by abusing women. In order to stop the abuse, Garcia believes these popular culture stereotypes must be confronted and changed. If media, literary and artistic images are not changed to accurately reflect the lives of Native Americans, the violence will continue. Martha Garcia and Paula Gunn Allen both write of the historical challenges that Native American women have faced and continue to face to this very day. They describe these women as honorable, brave and proud members of a culture who are integral members of their people’s past and future. By bringing awareness of the faulty reports and stereotypical characterizations of the Native American population, these two women shed light on the importance of woman to the survival of the Native American culture.

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