Tracing Native American Feminism Through Myth and Poetry

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Webber, Cassidy
Native American Poetry; Feminism; Multiculturalism; Native American Culture; English Language and Literature
thesis / dissertation description
Prior to contact, the Native American tribe hierarchy looked much different to how history immortalizes it. Since most history was written from a Euro-centric point of view, the nuances of European society, including the idea of a patriarchal society, are assimilated into the varying tribal histories. This, in turn, provides a skewed perception of what Native American society truly looked like. In 1702, Francis Louis Michel, a visiting Swiss noblemen to the colonies, reported:A Frenchman and I were astonished at the baskets and that two of them could speak English. One of them looked at us and said in poor English whether we thought that if they had been taught like we, they could not learn a thing just as well as we. I asked him where he had learned to speak English. He answered, they were not so stupid, because they had to come every year, they could hear us speak and learnt it that way. It is certain that good talents are found among them. (“Becoming American: The British Colonies” 2)In this example, Michel only finds the Native Americans useful and valid when they exhibit European qualities, such as learning English, and this mentality has permeated recorded history, particularly the history of Native Americans. The current history portrays Native societies as inherently patriarchal and placing women in a subservient class, but further anthropological study reveals that Native American society differed from what the first colonists believed.