Gender Relations and Roles (American Indians Ready Reference)
Article abstract: Gender roles are culturally defined entities that serve to structure social organization; Indian societies were marked by variation in the types of gender categories present and in their manifestation over time
Gender is typically regarded as a cultural or social construction, in contrast to the biologically defined sexual division between male and female. The creation of gender is an active process that may involve more than simply two-gender categories and that may vary through time among different cultures.
Engendering Native Americans
Much of our understanding of North American Indians and their history and prehistory is “degendered”; that is, it is a tale of interactions among sexless cultures rather than among gendered individuals. Even those accounts of Native Americans which incorporate gender commonly only include male roles, for as Alice Kehoe (“The Muted Class,” in Cheryl Claassen’s Exploring Gender Through Archaeology, 1992) explains: “Dominant groups dominate discourse. Subordinated groups whose discourse differs from the dominant mode may not be heard.” Typical of androcentric (male-oriented) writing is Claude Lévi-Strauss’s statement: “The...
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