Cultural Construction of Gender

The recognized gender categories were male and female. Kana'ti was the first man and Selu the first woman according to Cherokee tradition. Kana'ti provided meat for the family and Selu provided vegetables. The products from hunts were used for clothing and other household items. Cherokee women helped men dress skins and made them into clothing with bone needles. Traditional Cherokees wore little clothing with children wearing nothing at all. Men and women dressed similarly with short skirts and in the colder months added a skin cloak and moccasins. Both men and women wore jewelry of shells, bones, and copper. Capes from turkey and eagle feathers and bark were used for ceremonial purposes and feather headdresses. By the late 18th century, Cherokee women adopted the modest skirts, blouses, and shawls worn by Anglo-American women (Perdue, 1989).

Cherokee men and women had separate and distinct responsibilities. The tasks performed and the contributions of men and women were essential to the society and the integrity of the universe (Perdue, 1998). As Perdue (1998, p. 13) states:

Men did not dominate women, and women were not subservient to men. Men knew little about the world of women; they had no power over women and no control over women's activities. Women had their own arena of power, and any threat to its integrity jeopardized cosmic order. So it had been since the beginning of time.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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