Relative Status of Men and Women

Status differences between individuals and kin groups were clear and well-known. Behavior appropriate to status was publicly monitored and the rights of high-ranking people were strictly enforced. However, rank was not tied to gender. In fact, as the marriage preference attests, women and men were expected to be equally represented at every rank. Consequently, the concepts of "women" or "men" in themselves did not fit as ranked status categories in this highly rank conscious society.

This does not mean that there were not gendered areas of specialization and interest. As noted, men fished while women preserved the resource. Ownership of the resources, and more importantly the streams, were located in the clans or clan houses. A communal ownership was the norm, and clan members, both men and women, had innate rights there.

Personal valuables were owned by individuals. A woman who produced a Chilkat blanket had the same ownership rights as a man who produced a dance mask. Either could trade it or give it in a potlatch. Both men and women were judged on similar characteristics, and both had the opportunity of raising their status and the danger of lowering it. In either case, this influenced the status of their clansmen and clanswomen as well.

Both men and women took part in ceremonies and discussions. All had the right to be heard. High-ranked orators had special influence, and this category included men and women. Deference belonged to rank rather than gender. Women, like men, worked hard, were taken as slaves, and were killed in raids. They could be heroes and villains. Deference belonged to individuals of high birth and accomplishment.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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