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Native American women and agriculture: A Seneca case study

Abstract

This study examines the impact of European invasion on the mode of production, household lives, and ideology of one group of Native American women, the Seneca. Seneca women had high public status, a balanced division of labor, ownership of the land, and control over the means of agricultural production. The power derived from their role in production and the social institutions which had developed from this production were difficult to destroy, despite the efforts of missionaries, government, and reformers. The effects of disease, war, and the market economy on the Seneca women are specifically examined. Also described are attempts to impose the ideology of individualism and nuclear household patterns on the Seneca by withdrawing women from production outside the home and establishing male ownership of private property.

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Criticism by many women helped the development of this article at different stages. Anthropologists Bea Medicine and Peggy Sanday, women historians at Arizona State University, and community women in Phoenix all made valuable contributions to its evolution.

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Jensen, J.M. Native American women and agriculture: A Seneca case study. Sex Roles 3, 423–441 (1977). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00287408

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Keywords

  • Social Psychology
  • Agricultural Production
  • Market Economy
  • American Woman
  • Private Property