Gender Roles in Economics

In the context of work, "partners" refer to one another as sits'eni, and when they derive from different family households, or when kinship connections are distant or obscure, the relationship may involve friendship and reciprocity far beyond the domain of work. All-male partnerships, especially in winter, hunt and trap in far-flung zones often dozens of kilometers and many weeks removed from family households in the winter staging communities of past decades or the centralized villages of recent times (Jarvenpa, 1980).

All-female teams hunt virtually year round, on a nearly daily basis, on short snare-lines radiating out a few kilometers from villages as well as via canoe paths within a day's or overnight trip's travel from staging communities or villages. Finally, mixed male-female teams occupy an intermediate position wherein husband-wife pairs and their children, especially during the summer and fall months, conduct moose-hunting forays of 2 days to 2 weeks duration in a radius of 10-45 km of staging communities and villages (Brumbach & Jarvenpa, 1997a).

Political-economic changes since World War II, including the emergence of permanent centralized settlements, have increasingly altered the patterns of livelihood noted above. While all-female teams continue to operate much as they have in the past, the mixed male-female teams have declined in importance over the past several decades as women and school-age children are tied increasingly to new services, schools, and other institutions in centralized settlements. Hunts for large game and commercial furbearers are now conducted increasingly by young and middle-aged males who, in many cases, travel longer distances and endure longer periods of separation from their family households than in any previous historical period. Chipewyan have adapted to the demands of the modern world by constructing gender roles that are increasingly divergent and specialized. Stated another way, men have become far-ranging logis-tically organized collectors, while women have become foragers who operate on a nearly daily basis from a central residence (Brumbach & Jarvenpa, 1997a).

Since the 1980s incursions of mining, commercial forestry, and road-building in Chipewyan territory have created new wage-labor opportunities, particularly for younger adults who commute to new mine sites and work on road crews for extended periods. While many of these jobs are occupied by men, some women are pursuing advanced schooling and employment as teachers, nurses, and constables away from their home communities. The historically familiar division of labor tied to subsistence hunting and commercial fur trapping and fishing is being transformed in subtle and unforeseen ways by this emerging industrial and service economy.

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