Abstract

We introduce a life course, multimethod approach to examine the living arrangements of middle-aged and older American Indian and European women living on the rugged North Dakotan settlement frontier around 1910. Our model suggests that women's later life circumstances reflect the long arm of institutional forces and their ethnicity/ nativity, which anchors resource advantages and disadvantages (access to land, rail, and markets) and confers gender socialization (norms and practices) that reproduce gendered social roles. Drawing from primary and secondary sources, we find that European and American Indian women were selectively drawn to or (re)located on frontier spaces unevenly by ethnicity/nativity via timing and place of settlement effects. Old-age living arrangements then directly reflected county of location resources and women's own adoption of family roles and gendered life events, such as parenthood and widowhood. Overall, rather than finding homogeneous settler versus colonized identities constituted by the "otherness" of each group involved, we find great diversity within and across ethnic/nativity groups. This does not preclude grievous social and ethnic inequalities.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-8034
Print ISSN
0145-5532
Pages
pp. 27-69
Launched on MUSE
2013-03-17
Open Access
No
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