Sex Roles

, Volume 22, Issue 7–8, pp 455–476 | Cite as

Changing and diverse roles of women in American Indian cultures

  • Teresa D. LaFromboise
  • Anneliese M. Heyle
  • Emily J. Ozer


This article explores traditional and contemporary sex roles of Indian women. It emphasizes the renewing power of the feminine—a creative, healing balance that arises as traditional and contemporary strengths are brought together. The survival of the extended family throughout two hundred years of governmental policy attests to Indian women's resilience despite continuous role readjustment, value conflict, and economic pressure. Tribal diversity and predominantly egalitarian structural similarities are affirmed in this work through reviews of ethnographic studies addressing the roles of Indian women prior to European contact. The conventional and alternative roles of Indian women in traditional times are examined with an eye toward the spiritual source of Indian women's strength. Studies outlining the emotional and spiritual costs of contemporary Indian women living bicultural lifestyles, especially those pursuing advanced educational training, highlight the continued use of traditional Indian coping mechanisms. Finally, the current movement toward retraditionalization of roles of Indian women as caretakers and transmitters of cultural knowledge is posited as an effective means of overcoming problems and achieving Indian self-determination.


Ethnographic Study Cultural Knowledge Indian Woman Governmental Policy Indian Culture 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Teresa D. LaFromboise
    • 1
  • Anneliese M. Heyle
    • 1
  • Emily J. Ozer
    • 2
  1. 1.223 School of EducationStanford UniversityStanford
  2. 2.Harvard and Radcliffe CollegesUSA

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