Women have always played a significant role in the existence and administrations of tribal nations.

They have been instrumental due to their innate ability to reason and dispense wisdom. They also were characterized as wise because they originated the teachings for the children. The men were allowed to articulate, enforce and deliver these teachings, but it was the women who monitored and allowed them to speak. They were the faith keepers and, for Eastern tribes, the originators of the Longhouse system of government, whereby they designated who amongst the men was to articulate the laws.

Apache Although the traditional Apache had different adult gender roles for men and women, the skills of both were taught to both boys and girls. They all learned how to cook, follow tracks, skin leather and sew stitches, ride horses, and use weapons. This was done because the Apache realized that new and unforeseen situations would require that gender roles change over time in order for the tribe to survive and adapt

Eastern Woodland Societies Women in turn became the masters of the house, determining how things functioned in the private sphere and even determining how much of their resources were distributed.

HOPI The Hopi , according to Alice Schlegel, had as its "gender ideology ... one of female superiority, and it operated within a social actuality of sexual equality." According to LeBow (based on Schlegel's work), in the Hopi, "gender roles ... are egalitarian .... [and] [n]either sex is inferior." Hopi women "participate fully in ... political decision-making."

INUIT The Greenlanders and Caribou Inuit are very egalitarian with regard to gender.

Iroquois or Haudenosaunee Although different roles were traditionally assumed for males and females, they overlapped to a significant degree. The Great Law of Dekanawida gives approximately equal rights to each sex. The chief was always male, but was elected by women.

Today's Indian women are no different. They have to face some of the same challenges, only in a different time. Today, they have different issues and concerns, but, Native women still have the majority vote when it comes to making the important decisions.

Matrilineal societies existed amongst the Eastern tribes for sure, but they also existed in other tribes, like the plains tribes, but the women were behind the scenes. They made the decisions, but allowed the men to articulate them.(Source: Sonny Skyhawk)

Responses to "Why Do Native American Tribes Have Matrilineal Societies?"

  1. Anonymous says:


  2. Anonymous says:

    To Hopi, I am Hopi, women are actually superior. Homes and land are owned by women. We get our identies and roles within Hopi from our women. But most obviously, women are considered as sacred to Hopi in that they have the power to give life.

  3. Unknown says:

    Because they are smart! (Seriously, they are glue)

  4. But every since the 1st Amen-dment i.e., "No law respecting an establishment of religion" giving Men head of household rights, Women have been statutorily raped of the rights afforded under the NW Ordinance

  5. Art Noble says:

    The egg usually eats all the male contribution to the mitochondrial DNA shortly after conception, thereby cutting off that portion of male ancestry. Women also have a better left-right brain connection. But, in primitive societies, the L-R brain connection appears to be better in men than those who are "civilized" by the modern world.

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