Native American Women

Women in Native American tribes played a very important role. They had a number of responsibilities and tasks that they performed on an everyday basis.

They were responsible for taking care of the house as well as other duties such as cooking, tanning and various crafts. Within the Native American culture, women were equal to men. They shared the burden and the responsibilities of everyday life.

Responsibilities of Native American Women

Native American women were primarily responsible for taking care of the household. In the Plains region, the women would pitch the teepee when a tribe moved to a new place. They would also make sure that the inside of a house or teepee was clean and organized.

Cooking was another important responsibility. The men would hunt and bring meat. The women would then cook the meat and also dry it for storage. Women also went outdoors into the forest to forage for berries, nuts, fruits and other foods.

Tanning of animal hides was done by the women of a tribe as well. Before tanning, the women would skin an animal such as a bison which the men would bring back from their hunting. After skinning, the women dried the hide and tanned it. Then they would cut and sew it into different accessories such as covers for teepees or clothing items.

Clothing of Native American Women

The clothing of Native American women reflected the climate and weather. During the hot summer months, they would wear short skirts and light shirts. During winters, they wore warm leggings as well as warm tunics or buckskin dresses. They also wore footwear and headgear during winters to keep them warm. Notable footwear included moccasins which were made from soft leather.

Other Roles of Native American Women

Native American women performed many tasks for their tribe as well. They would make baskets and weave threads. The baskets were used for storing or carrying different items. The threads were used to make dresses and other clothing items. Baskets and clothing were also sold to get valuable items for the tribe.

The women also made other valuable items such as jewelry, pottery and blankets. All of these served practical everyday uses for the members of the tribe. But they were also meant to be sold in other cities, towns and villages. In this way, the women directly contributed to the economy of a tribe.

Native American Women and Agriculture

In the tribes that practiced agriculture, women contributed in the agrarian activities. They were primarily responsible for harvesting a crop once it was ready. So they spent a considerable amount of time in the fields when it was the season for the ripening of the crops.

Native American Women and Spirituality

The medicine man or medicine woman was an important spiritual figure for the Native American tribes. Native Americans believed that a woman was more effective in this role. The medicine woman healed the sick members of the tribe by using herbs, chants and spiritual powers.