Gender Roles in Economics

The Hopi were a society without private property until the Spanish introduced sheep. Even then, their herding was on a very small scale, for subsistence rather than commerce, until they began commercial cattle raising in the early 20th century. Land is owned by the clans, and land unclaimed by clans belongs to the entire village for the chief to allocate to those who appeal to him for use of it.

Men's subsistence tasks are farming and herding, along with some hunting of small and large game. They provide the food for their wives and children, and from the cotton they grew they weave the family's clothing. Women do some gardening on plots close to the village, cultivating plants introduced by the Spanish and later the Americans. They also gather wild plants for food, basketry, and other uses.

Men's crafts are principally weaving, wood carving, and leather work. Before a commercial market opened up for carved kachina dolls, their trade was mainly in textiles to eastern Pueblos and other Indian peoples. Women make pottery for home use and some local trade, and it has become a commercial item to tourists. Basketry is an important female craft, for large quantities of baskets figure in the exchange of goods at marriage. Mothers collect baskets at the time of their daughters' weddings, and then spend months or years weaving baskets to pay back the lenders. Women sometimes set up small informal stands in front of their houses, trading a few baskets of peaches or other items for something they wanted. When Navajos enter the village with meat or pinyon nuts, women barter dried corn and other goods for these products.

Women rarely leave the village. However, men sometimes walk long distances to trade. They make occasional expeditions to the Gulf of California to gather salt.

The only kind of private property of any value consists of sheep. These animals belong to individual men. Fathers and sons often herd together, and sons usually inherit their fathers' flocks.

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