The USA is often called the country of immigrants. There are a lot of Native Americans in the United States. Here are some curious facts about Native Americans and their women in particular.
1. Native Americans enjoy some privileges
After a long-lasting confrontation between Native Americans and colonizers, the members of Indian tribes have succeeded in obtaining special rights that are very different from those of the representatives of other states.
Some Indian females reside on reserves. These conglomerates vary significantly from other human settlements in the US.
People who live on the reserves have some advantages over the other citizens of the country. For example, they are permitted to open casinos as well as tobacco and alcohol factories.
The inhabitants of the reserves are not the subject to the state legislation. They establish their own regulations. The main requirement is that they don’t contradict federal laws.
They are even allowed to form their own government. Moreover, the US authorities provide them with compensation for the lands they had been previously deprived of.
2. They are considered to be legally incompetent by the authorities
At the same time, Indian females are under the guardianship of the federal government; basically they are treated as minors or incompetent. That’s why they don’t enjoy the full range of civil rights.
They are not obliged to pay taxes, for which Native American women aren’t eligible to vote. Apart for that, they aren’t allowed to engage in commercial transactions or appear in court.
In order to exercise their civil rights, they have to appeal to intermediaries such as the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Moreover, in spite of the fact that the reserves Indian women live in are self-governing communities, those women’s everyday life is normally regulated by tribal councils, which are often appointed by government officials rather than being elected.
No wonder Indian females came to be seen as full-fledged citizens only in 1924.
3. Social isolation has a devastating impact on them
According to the legislation of the US, the representatives of Indian tribes are eligible to be admitted to a state-financed student places at universities without examinations. However, only a few Native American women obtain higher education or get a degree.
There are a lot of Indian ladies who can’t read and write at all.
By the way, there is a high unemployment rate among the female members of the reserves. Many of them have an income below the subsistence level.
Life in a socially isolated society contributes to the fact that there are a lot of Native American women who suffer from alcoholism, pneumonia and diabetes. Moreover, it’s not uncommon for them to attempt suicide.
4. They lose their identity
It’s hard for Native American women to preserve their ethnic identity. Most of them don’t speak any other language besides English.
This has been facilitated by a policy carried out by the US authorities in the 21st century. It is to settle Native American people who belong to different ethnic groups and therefore speak different languages in the same reserve. Thus, in order to understand each other, those Indians are forced to use the language of their colonizers.
According to the UNESCO, most Native American languages are on the edge of extinction.
5. They are often ill-treated by white citizens of the US
Despite the fact that the United States Congress made a formal apology to the indigenous peoples for past crimes in 2009, the attitude towards Indian women on the part of some white Americans remains negative.
Many of them consider Native Americans savages. And such an attitude is a common occurrence even among high-ranking officials.
Even Donald Trump has distinguished himself in such actions. The point is that it’s not allowed to call indigenous peoples Indians in the USA.
However, when a senator and a huge advocate for the rights of Native Americans Elizabeth Warren once told the President that she was of Native American ancestry, Trump’s reaction wasn’t long in coming – he immediately called her an Indian and even came up with a nickname for her.
6. Indigenous women often become victims of crimes
Native American women are more likely to be abducted, abused and killed than other American women. These crimes against indigenous women are not uncommon in this country. The weirdest part is that abusers often remain at large. Most often, such cases aren’t being investigated.
The self-governance is the main cause of the problem. The thing is that each preserve has its own tribal police. That’s why the authorities of states avoid performing their duties and prefer to delegate them to tribal policemen.
The official authorities distance themselves from the problems of Native American women living in reserves; they don’t accept a missing-persons report and seek to delay the initiation of an investigation.
The tribal police, for its part, don’t do their job, either. Sometimes they even poke fun at the relatives of the victim, telling them a wanted woman must be having a good time and getting drunk somewhere.
It makes the relatives are forced to organize a search party on their own.
7. Native American women are full-fledged members of a congregation
Historically, Native American women are regarded not only as mothers and persons who keep a household but also as a full member of their community.
According to a historian John White, at least half of all Indian tribes who used to live in the territory of the United States were matrilineal societies.
Curiously, in many modern Indian tribes women have preserved their dominant role to this very day, especially if they are mothers.
Such a position in society often entails some legal effects. For example, a woman inherits the property of the family, has more rights to household goods. Moreover, a female manages household budget and participates in the running of a community.
8. They don’t distinguish between women’s and men’s occupations
Native Americans have no idea of the Western vision of gender roles. Moreover, they have never adhered to conservative or traditional American rules, according to which a man is a warrior and breadwinner, and a woman is a housewife.
In contract, they have always sought to strike a balance between gender roles, that is, share their responsibilities on a reciprocal basis.
9. They aren’t forced to get married
As a rule, Native American families have a liberal attitude towards a woman’s marriage. For instance, if partners who belong to the Iroquois don’t want to get married, their family won’t push them.
Considering the fact that Native American women are actively involved in all spheres of tribal life, including economic and social, they are considered self-contained and self-reliant, so they don’t need to be under the protection of men.
10. Native American women’s children are often taken away
With a view to help the children born by Native American females move out of poverty, white American families often adopt them. Most often, the kids are taken away from Indian women when they are infants at the age from 1 to 1.5.
Adoption gives the children an opportunity to live a full life and obtain a decent education, whereas their biological mothers are often unable to raise their kids properly, since many of them suffer from drug-related or alcohol-related problems.
11. There is a huge gap between white and Native American females
Many Native American women have a predisposition to their ancestors’ traditional way of living – they like to worship their gods, go fishing and hunting and aren’t interested in assimilation with men of other nationalities.
They don’t strive to build their careers, defend their rights and comply with Western standards of living.
That’s why there is a huge cultural difference between the representatives of white and Native American women in the USA.
12. A woman is closer to God
The members of most Native American ethnic groups think that woman is a closer to God than men, since she is the source of new life.
This is the reason why European colonizers, knowing indigenous peoples’ attitude towards ladies, took women hostage in order to force their men to lay down arms.
As you can see, Native American woman stand out among not only white American women, but also among women of many other nationalities. They have their merits and demerits. Let’s hope that they will find the path of understanding and unity with the rest of Americans and their lives will get better.