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Cherokee Women: Gender and Culture Change, 1700-1835 (Indians of the Southeast) Paperback – August 1, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0803287600 ISBN-10: 0803287607 Edition: 0th

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Product Details

  • Series: Indians of the Southeast
  • Paperback: 254 pages
  • Publisher: Bison Books (August 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803287607
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803287600
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“A fascinating book that truly breaks new ground in the study of Cherokee history, women's history, and American history in general. Exemplifies women's history at its best. She neither concentrates only on so-called notable women—those Cherokee women who are supposedly worthy of historical study because they acted like white men—or on inserting Cherokee women into an already existing narrative of Cherokee and American history. Instead her work challenges the existing narratives and suggests an alternative reading of history. By characterizing women as agents of cultural persistence, Perdue makes a case that we should not see American Indian women as bit players but as ‘major players in the great historical drama that is the American past.’”—Margaret Jacobs, Journal of Southern History
(Margaret Jacobs Journal of Southern History )

“An interesting and effective overview. . . . It is to the author’s considerable credit that she is able to re-create the values and behavior of Cherokee women through court records, myths, and observers’ accounts. By examining women’s roles in farming and community life, Perdue argues that women were coequal contributors to Cherokee culture.”—Choice
(Choice )

“A well-documented, carefully argued book written in lively and engaging prose. It deserves a wide audience. . . . An exceptional piece of scholarship.”—William and Mary Quarterly
(William and Mary Quarterly )

“Gracefully written and convincing.”—H-Net Reviews
(H-Net Reviews )

About the Author

Theda Perdue is a professor of history at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Her works include Slavery and the Evolution of Cherokee Society, 1540–1866 and Native Carolinians: The Indians of North Carolina.

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Customer Reviews

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It is a well researched volume.
Pat Lowe
This book raises the bar for women's cultural history in general and is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of the Cherokee, especially Cherokee women.
Susan J. Stoddard
It is a depressing often told story.
Ray Evans Harrell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 38 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 23, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Perdue's work looks at gender roles in Cherokee society during the dramatic cultural upheaval of the 18th Century. It is a fascinating work which adds flesh to the historical skeletons that have centered on the Cherokee and European men's actions. One cannot truly understand the history and culture of a matrilineal people without a work of this type. This book is required reading for all scholars oof the Cherokee.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 23, 2003
Format: Paperback
In her well-written Cherokee Women: Gender and Culture Change, 1700-1835, historian Theda Perdue argues that "the story of most Cherokee women is not cultural transformation...but remarkable cultural persistence." This is not to say, she argues, that these women did not experience significant changes in their status and condition, especially if one looks at the "decline" of Native Americans only in terms of land losses and military defeats. If, however, historians looks at "other indices of cultural change, including production, reproduction, religion, and perceptions of self, as well as political and economic institutions," then a different image emerges of Cherokee women over time: one of cultural persistence. Perdue does not deny that contact with Europeans had a profound, and ultimately negative, impact on the lives and well being of native peoples, including women of the seven Cherokee clans. She is particularly lucid in describing how the deer skin trade, military alliances and the insistence by whites of negotiating only with males in treaty making and land deals diminished much of the influence women had in terms of trade, material possessions and political status.
Perdue interprets the changes in Cherokee life for men and women, beginning in the 18th century, as a cultural retooling, in which men became predominantly involved in external affairs of the tribe (war, military alliances, commercial enterprises, treaties) and women maintained internal power and status within the tribe. "While women became dependent on men in some respects," she notes, "men also relied increasingly on women to plant corn, perpetuate lineages, and maintain village life.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Ray Evans Harrell on March 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
CHEROKEE WOMEN, Gender and Culture Change 1700 to 1835. Theda Perdue

University of Nebraska Press 1998

Although this book is eight years old it is a good one and deserves a new review. We used this book in teaching the workshop to the Chiefs in July of this year.

The book is constructed of three major sections. The first is called a Woman's World and has two sub-sections on Constructing Gender and Defining Community.

These are exceptionally well done and show how Cherokee women were equal in the world to men as they were of the Earth medicine while the men were of the Sun. It shows how this balance, much as in the story at the beginning of the Newsletter, was achieved and maintained.

This was not a shallow equality under the law but a deep spiritual one with each group having their own power that made the other powerless without it.

It no more represented slavery to stereotype than being a Soprano or a Bass does to the opposite gender. The Creator gave the place and so their job was, again like the singer, to fulfill it completely.

The community and the ceremonials in the community all pointed the way to the achievement of the goals of significance by each Kituwah person. For they were all followers of the Kituwah faith at that time.

In the second section she traces the beginnings of the breakdown of Cherokee equality as the Men, through hunting and trade start to assume political power.

This is like the Sun coming too close to the earth and killing the plants and that is what happened. Agricultural technology withered as the women lost power and they became enslaved to the exotic trade goods that were largely inferior to their hand made original articles.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lehigh History Student VINE VOICE on March 16, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Thea Perdue adds an excellent addition to the Indians of the Southeast series by giving a new perspective on the role of women in Cherokee society. There are very few books that assess how women were affected by European invaders in a traditional society. The women existed in a matrilineal world where they controlled trade and social functions which are retold expertly here. Perdue recounts how war, diplomacy, and economics changed the roles of women and how the European viewpoints were dominant. The book ends with a look at the supposed Renaissance that occurred when missionaries from the Moravians began to work on a language and develop societal roles in Cherokee tribes.

The literature on Indians of the Southeast, and Indians in general, is growing quickly and this will become a staple within the historiography. For those who want to look at the history of the Cherokee this is an invaluable source. Furthermore for those who want to look at matrilineal roles and how they affected European and Indian relations than this is a great way to study them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Susan J. Stoddard on April 10, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book raises the bar for women's cultural history in general and is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of the Cherokee, especially Cherokee women. Perdue's book is one of those rare works which has garnered numerous academic accolades with its depth of research still presenting it in a manner that makes it accessible to the average reader. While documenting the massive changes Cherokee women experienced through colonial contact and removal, she also tells the story of the continuity of a culture and a people. The choice of the cover art, a rendering of a woman from each of the seven clans, is brilliant as it emphasizes her principle point, Cherokee women are the people. Her scholarship is significantly influencing the field and works like this are the reason. If you are interested in Cherokee history, women's history or in obtaining a deeper understanding of southern American cultural, read this book.
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