NATIVE SISTER by Carolyn Niethammer


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A loose-limbed composite of the historical Native American woman which focuses on her most common experiences and also accounts for exceptions. Undertaking such a profile is necessarily a problematic task considering the variety of circumstance and tribal practice among the Indians and their disruption following the arrival of Europeans. What emerges is an impression of a woman with some range of possibilities, assigned to a homemaker role but not always confined to it. Niethammer stakes out each area of life--childbirth, childhood, marriage and sexuality, economic role, crafts and recreation--and offers generalizations derived from a large number of sources. However, she does not always specify the tribes which subscribed to the particular customs, although she does identify some who acted differently. And she rarely provides a time period for the practices she describes or gives much sense of the impact of continued assaults and periodic displacements on the indigenous cultures. There are numerous stories and legends which elucidate certain points but little attempt to ascertain their factual basis. Limited, then, as a reference work but of some value as a corrective to the modern stereotype.

Pub Date: April 25th, 1977
Publisher: Macmillan