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Nature's Law
Spiritual Life, Governance, Culture, Traditions, Resources, Context and Background
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Woman's Power

Visual representation of nature's laws


Women's MoccasinsI ask George if he has words for girls just learning about Native culture who might feel shunned when not allowed to attend ceremonies while menstruating and for women who intellectualize when the body cleanses itself that it is a spiritual time to be in contact with ceremonies. "Women are far, far ahead of men. It's quite hard to understand, but when you start living the Native culture, you will. You are like Mother Earth, who once a year in the spring, washes herself down the river to the ocean. Everything ... all debris is washed away. Same thing with a woman, except it's every month. It's the power you have. You cannot enter a lodge or a spiritual gathering because you will kill all the prayers and offerings in there. You are more powerful than all of it, and if you come in you can't fool the spirits. At Sundances, if a woman in her time comes near the lodge, the singers and dancers know. I have to tell the older women to tell the younger ones not to stay around if they are like that. It's not because we don't like them, it's the power they have. They're way ahead of me," George repeats.

Her rights while in the family pertain to the household. It was her duty to skin the larger game, and the skins became her property, and she was expected to tan them or otherwise fit them for use. If she made them up into articles for the use of the man, they then became the personal property of the man, or if she made them up for the personal use of a grown up son or anyone not a member of the family, they became the personal property of the one for whom they were made. But if she made them up for any other person of use in the family they remained her own, which she had the right to dispose of in any manner she saw fit. But the men skinned the smaller forbearing animals, and while the women tanned and prepared these, they remained the property of the men and when the buffalo skins became articles of commerce with the white people, the men took charge of the sale of them, and of the precedes of such sales.

As the tipis were made of skins they were the property of the women, as were the clothing of herself ad her children, until they were grown up, and she owned the robes used in the family, except those belonging to the man and grown sons, and all the domestic implements and utensils.

All the children that were the issue of her body belong to her until they had arrived at puberty in the sense that her right to their possession took precedence over that of her man, their father. She is their mother (hunkupi) and they hold her as their ancestor. Her right to control her children took precedence over that of her husband until the sons became of an age when they could be instructed in the arts of the chase and of war, when the father took charge of them, but in the tipis they were still subordinate to the mother until they arrived at the age of manhood. (Walker 43-44)

"In the management of all ordinary domestic work the woman’s authority was supreme. If she left a man her claim to her rights was unimpaired, but if her man disputed it she could maintain it only by the help of her friends whose aid depended on their ability to enforce their wishes because of numbers or influence. But if a woman was thrown away or given away for punishment, she lost all rights to all her property and her children, except babies, but the an could permit her to take such as she wished and he granted" (Walker 43-44).

"While the position of the woman in the family was subordinate to the man in almost every particular, she had certain rights which were recognized among the Sioux, as follows. She had the right to leave a man who had taken her, in which case her friends could take her part in the difference, and if they thought that she had not sufficient cause for her action they could restore her to her man, if he so wished it. Then the only way she could escape remaining his woman was to fly and remain in hiding from him, or to become the woman of someone who was the more powerful that her former man, and able to maintain his possession of the woman, by force if need be." (Walker, 41)

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