March is Women’s History Month and March 8 is also International Women’s Day! We thought we’d take a look at the historical significance of Native American women, as well as the role Native American women play now in the present and into the future.
Traditionally, Native American women played an essential role in their tribal communities. While women were in charge of the more traditional matriarchal roles within the tribe, they also had an array of other responsibilities. Yes, they were wives and mothers, but they were also builders, farmers, craftswomen, cooks, teachers, nurses and more.
Women were held in high esteem for their craft work, and they were revered for their important role in healing practices. Therefore, tribes honored the women for being a source of life and for providing a feeling of strength, balance and harmony to their communities.
But time has a way of changing things. Some of these viewpoints seemed to shift — to blur. The road women have traveled into modern times has not been smooth. It’s come with twists, turns and obstacles to overcome. By 1981, Women’s History Month was born. A multitude of laws passed by Congress and proclamations in the 1980s and 1990s celebrate the contributions of women. That once historical viewpoint of women, once blurred, again began to sharpen.
At St. Joseph’s Indian School, we work to empower each of our students for the future, boys and girls alike. But in the spirit of Women’s History Month, we asked some of our female students what they see when they think about their future.
“When I grow up, I want to be a doctor.” — Arlynn
“I would like to be a lawyer or maybe a nurse. I would like to be a lawyer because I can help defend people, or maybe a nurse so I can also help people.” — Aubrea
“I want to be a gymnast and a basketball coach. I would be fun because I’m wild and fun.” — Avayah
“When I grow up, I want to be a teacher or a houseparent at St. Joseph’s Indian School.” — Chaz
All of these dreams relate back to the historical viewpoint of women. While in modern times Arlynn wants to be a doctor, historically she may have helped with healing ceremonies. While Aubrea dreams of being a lawyer to defend people, perhaps she would’ve defended her tribe against harm. Avayah wants to be a gymnast now, but back then her athleticism would’ve helped her tribe in numerous ways. And Chaz, her caretaker heart would’ve shined through then as it can today.
These four dreams are all very different but are founded under the same principals of serving others and contributing to their communities. It’s amazing to see!
At St. Joseph’s, we recognize that these dreams are possible because of your support. Your gifts provide an education that is the first of many big steps to achieving these dreams. Their education and knowledge is also something that no one can ever take away from them, no matter where life takes them.
Philámayaye — thank you — for providing the tools to build strong girls and boys at St. Joseph’s Indian School.
Want to Read More Inspirational Stories of Female Graduates from St. Joseph’s?