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Indigenous American Women Decolonization, Empowerment, Activism by Devon Abbott Mihesuah

Indigenous American Women Decolonization, Empowerment, Activism

Part of the Contemporary Indigenous Issues Series


Indigenous American Women Decolonization, Empowerment, Activism by Devon Abbott Mihesuah

Oklahoma Choctaw scholar Devon Abbott Mihesuah offers a frank and absorbing look at the complex, evolving identities of American Indigenous women today, their ongoing struggles against a centuries-old legacy of colonial disempowerment, and how they are seen and portrayed by themselves and others. Mihesuah first examines how American Indigenous women have been perceived and depicted by non-Natives, including scholars, and by themselves. She then illuminates the pervasive impact of colonialism and patriarchal thought on Native women's traditional tribal roles and on their participation in academia. Mihesuah considers how relations between Indigenous women and men across North America continue to be altered by Christianity and Euro-American ideologies. Sexism and violence against Indigenous women has escalated; economic disparities and intratribal factionalism and culturalism threaten connections among women and with men; and many women suffer from psychological stress because their economic, religious, political, and social positions are devalued. In the last section, Mihesuah explores how modern American Indigenous women have empowered themselves tribally, nationally, or academically. Additionally, she examines the overlooked role that Native women played in the Red Power movement as well as some key differences between Native women feminists and activists.


Native and non-Native feminist scholars will find much to debate in this collection, which accomplishes its primary purposes-contributing to a growing body of scholarly literature by Indigenous women, confronting difficult topics frankly and directly, demonstrating ethical research, and providing catalysts for much-needed converstaions about the complex nature of feminisms and activist agendas. -Amanda J. Cobb (Chickasaw), New Mexico Historical Review -- Amanda J. Cobb * New Mexico Historical Review * Her observations on research and writing about Native women are valuable reminders to other scholars in the field. . . . scholars whose research deals with Native women will find Mihesuah's Indigenous American Women a worthy resource. -Patrice Hollrah, Western American Literature -- Patrice Hollrah * Western American Literature * A powerful book about the impact of colonization on the indigenous peoples of North America. . . . These essays should be required reading in every research seminar. . . . And they clearly establish Milhesuah as a leading indigenous intellectual. -Theda Perdue, Great Plains Quarterly -- Theda Perdue * Great Plains Quarterly * As many of these issues relate to decolonization, the legacy of colonialism, and feminism, the essays speak to a larger audience than just American Indian women or people involved with American Indian Studies. Thos whose work spans both activism and scholarship are likely to find something of interest between these covers. The book may also help those who have little experience with activist-scholarship such as Milhesuah's work come to a better understanding of what she and others like her are trying to do. -Stacy Schlegel, Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History -- Stacy Schlegel * Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History * Well worth reading to learn how a perceptive insider views the current state of Native affairs. -Lillian Ackerman, Montana, The Magazine of Western History -- Lillian Ackerman * Montana, The Magazine of Western History * Particularly insightful, thought-provoking, [and] well-researched. -Rodney Frey, Journal of American Ethnic History -- Rodney Frey * Journal of American Ethnic History *

About the Author

Devon Abbott Mihesuah is a professor of applied Indigenous studies and history at Northern Arizona University. Her books include Cultivating the Rosebuds: The Education of Women at the Cherokee Female Seminary, 1851-1909 and Roads of My Relations.

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Book Info

Publication date

1st April 2003


Devon Abbott Mihesuah

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University of Nebraska Press


246 pages


Social & cultural anthropology, ethnography



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