Women within the Dakota society were very highly organized and they were very strong.

Dr. Canku talks about historical Dakota life-ways, and how women's roles have carried through to today.

Things to think about: 

How do different cultural groups distinguish gender roles?

Audio Chapters

DL: Were the Dakota people ever united?

CC: We experienced factionalism when the missionaries first came. What specifically I'm talking about is in the religious area. In the ancient ways of worship, we had only one religion. And we didn't distinguish between denominations.
And we didn't distinguish between being a farmer or being a progressive or being a traditional person like just being a hunter and a warrior. Back in those days, we didn’t have those distinctions. Everything was different. In a Dakota setting for the men, we had societies. It had to do with being a warrior and spiritual leader. And the same way with women, they had their own societies -- very strong women that had their own roles and their own hierarchy within their own societies. So, women within the Dakota society were very highly -- I guess, organized -- and they were very strong.

DL: What about the Dakota women today. Have any of them regained that strength?

CC: Some are regaining that strength in many different ways, in many different avenues. One is to be just a mother, a wife and stay at home. A domestic wife. And some of them are very good at that role. But some of them have lost their way, too. And they lost the role of being a nurturing mother, a nurturing grandmother, and they become very dysfunctional -- because of alcoholism, or any kind of influence that they had, [such as] being abused in boarding schools and so on. And they lost their way, they lost their life. And they lost their spirit.
Then today we have women that are coming up, who are choosing to be career women. They know how to balance their lives in terms of whether they want to be single, or they want to be career women all their lives and stay single. Or, maybe they want to raise a family and still function as career women and have the best of both worlds. A lot of times it's harder for the women because they have to be nurturers but at the same time, they have to be strong and fit into the American dominant society – which does not reward humility or nurturing or being a spiritual woman. So that reward does not come from the American society. But the reward comes from their immediate families.

Oral History- Interview | Narrator Dr. Clifford Canku Interviewer Deborah Locke made at Minnesota History Center, St. Paul, MN | Friday, June 10, 2011

Citation: Minnesota Historical Society. U.S. - Dakota War of 1862. Women within the Dakota society were very highly organized and they were very strong. June 22, 2024. http://www.usdakotawar.org/node/1023

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