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Indigenous Women and Work

From Labor to Activism


Publication Year: 2012

These essays create a transnational and comparative dialogue on the history of the productive and reproductive lives and circumstances of Indigenous women from the late nineteenth century to the present in the United States, Australia, New Zealand/Aotearoa, and Canada. Surveying the spectrum of Indigenous women's lives and circumstances as workers, both waged and unwaged, the contributors offer varied perspectives on the ways women's work has contributed to the survival of communities in the face of ongoing tensions between assimilation and colonization._x000B__x000B_Contributors are Tracey Banivanua Mar, Marlene Brant Castellano, Cathleen D. Cahill, Brenda J. Child, Sherry Farrell Racette, Chris Friday, Aroha Harris, Faye HeavyShield, Heather A. Howard, Margaret D. Jacobs, Alice Littlefield, Cybele Locke, Mary Jane Logan McCallum, Kathy M'Closkey, Colleen O'Neill, Beth H. Piatote, Susan Roy, Lynette Russell, Joan Sangster, Ruth Taylor, and Carol Williams. _x000B_

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-xii

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pp. ix-xii

The chapters in this volume explore Indigenous women’s work in Canada, the United States, New Zealand, Australia, and the western Pacific islands. The lens employed is historical, in close focus on the experience of small groups and societies, with a broader sweep in comparative analysis of events and relationships in four principal nation...

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pp. xiii-xiv

Gratitude is extended to University of Illinois Press senior editor Laurie Matheson to whom I proposed this manuscript in 2007. She has sustained a firm commitment and confidence throughout the many stages of our project. I also thank Ned Blackhawk, Devon...

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pp. 1-26

The essays of Indigenous Women and Work: From Labor to Activism are set within the historical context of four settler nations—Canada, Australia, the United States, and Aotearoa/New Zealand—covering a broad span of time from the 1830s to the late 1980s. In...

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1. Aboriginal Women and Work across the 49th Parallel: Historical Antecedents and New Challenges

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pp. 27-45

Interpretations of Aboriginal women’s work have shifted over time, but they have been absolutely central to First Nations women’s experiences of colonialism. Yet, in both women’s history and Aboriginal history, there has been a “mystification” of Indigenous...

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2. Making a Living: Anishinaabe Women in Michigan's Changing Economy

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pp. 46-59

Increasing scholarly focus on issues of gender in recent decades has served to highlight the many silences about women’s lives in the earlier anthropological and historical literature. One result has been a florescence of ethnographic and ethnohistorical research...

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3. Procuring Passage: Southern Australian Aboriginal Women and the Early Maritime Industry of Sealing

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pp. 60-72

I have both an intellectual and personal engagement with the history of sealing in southern Australia. A number of years ago, at a family funeral, after having completed a doctorate in historical studies, I engaged in conversation with an elderly distant cousin. He...

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4. The Contours of Agency: Women's Work, Race, and Queensland's Indentured Labor Trade

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pp. 73-87

She stands in a freshly furrowed field at the end of a row of cane sets ready for planting. She is slightly bent over with a young baby at her feet, and in the background, out of focus and on the periphery of the viewer’s vision stands a figure in a horse and cart (figure 4.1). This...

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5. From "Superabundance" to Dependency: Women Agriculturalists and the Negotiation of Colonialism and Capitalism for Reservation-era Lummi

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pp. 88-103

In 1857, the first agent on the Lummi Reservation in Northwest Washington, Edmund C. Fitzhugh, observed: “their women are industrious, and do most of the work and procure the principle part of their sustenance; they cultivate potatoes, and generally...

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6. "We Were Real Skookum Women”: The shishalh Economy and the Logging Industry on the Pacific Northwest Coast

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pp. 104-119

On prominent display in the Sechelt First Nation’s tems swiya Museum is a large photograph depicting a group of shíshálh women—Mary Joe, Violet Jeffries, Mary Anne Jeffries, Carrie Joe, and Madeline Joe—rolling cedar logs down the mountainside in the early...

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7. Unraveling the Narratives of Nostalgia: Navajo Weavers and Globalization

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pp. 120-135

For decades, researchers have investigated the impact of market economies on Indigenous peoples’ lifeways and natural resources. My chapter reveals how incorporation of Navajo pastoralists into the American wool and livestock markets via the trading...

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8. Labor and Leisure in the "Enchanted Summer Land": Anishinaabe Women's Work and the Growth of Wisconsin Tourism, 1900-1940

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pp. 136-147

In 1922 the federal Indian service conducted a series of industrial surveys on reservations aimed at determining the success of its effort to educate and assimilate the nation’s Native people. Officials at the Lac du Flambeau and Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe reservations...

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9. Nimble Fingers and Strong Backs: First Nations and Métis Women in Fur Trade and Rural Economies

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pp. 148-162

Nurse Tracy, from Wally Dion’s Red Worker Series (2005–6) is the Saulteaux artist’s visual response to those who suggest that the demographic shift toward an Aboriginal majority in the province of Saskatchewan will lead to economic collapse (figure 9.1). Dion’s...

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10. Northfork Mono Women's Agricultural Work, "Productive Coexistence," and Social Well-Being in the San Joaquin Valley, California, circa 1850–1950

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pp. 163-178

This chapter examines Native women’s agency in the transformation of economic life in Central California over the century that followed the establishment of American jurisdiction in 1848. I focus on Northfork Mono women’s seasonal migratory labor patterns...

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11. Diverted Mothering among American Indian Domestic Servants, 1920-1940

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pp. 179-192

In the early twentieth century, many young Indian women took up domestic service in white women’s households in urban areas of the American West such as Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. The boarding school system had trained Indian girls in domesticity...

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12. Charity or Industry? American Indian Women and Work Relief in the New Deal Era

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pp. 193-209

This chapter begins with a picture of a young Navajo woman sitting in front of a sewing machine, surrounded by mattress ticking in what looks like a semiindustrial context (figure 12.1). For her, such industrial employment within her reservation community was...

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13. "An Indian Teacher among Indians": Native Women As Federal Employees

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pp. 210-224

In 1913, Salena Kane (Pottawatomie) wrote to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs (CIA) asking for “protection” against the superintendent of the Shawnee Indian School in Oklahoma. Kane was furious that Superintendent Buntin had ignored her requests for employment...

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14. "Assaulting the Ears of Government": The Indian Homemakers' Clubs and the Maori Women's Welfare in Their Formative Years

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pp. 225-239

In the summer of 1945, Indian Homemakers’ Clubs from southern Ontario congregated in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory for their first annual convention. The gathering marked eight years of the Clubs’ existence in Canada and signaled a significant era of First Nations...

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15. Politically Purposeful Work: Ojibwe Women's Labor and Leadership in Postwar Minneapolis Brenda J

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pp. 240-253

Before there was a relocation program, the migration of Ojibwe people to the city took place in stages, sometimes separated by decades, and resulted in new journeys to familiar but changing landscapes. Milwaukee, Chicago, Toronto, Duluth, and other Great Lake cities...

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16. Maori Sovereignty, Black Feminism, and the New Zealand Trade Union Movement

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pp. 254-267

An incident occurred in 1982 at the Auckland Trade Union Centre in New Zealand— a small group of Maori radicals, called Black Unity, who ran the Polynesian Resource Centre were accused of antitrade unionism and racism and, consequently, were evicted...

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17. Beading Lesson Beth H. Piatote

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pp. 268-270

The first thing you do is, lay down all your hanks, like this, so the colors go from light to dark, like a rainbow. I’ll start you out with something real easy, like I do with those kids over at the school, over at Cay-Uma-Wa. How about—you want to make...


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pp. 271-278


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pp. 279-299

Production Notes, Back Cover

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pp. 300

E-ISBN-13: 9780252094262
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252037153

Page Count: 336
Publication Year: 2012