Families are preparing to celebrate the women in their lives and their contributions for Mother’s Day. Native Americans are no different.

Native Americans are no strangers to showing appreciation to the women in their lives, especially mothers. Women played and continue to play an integral role in families and tribes.

Women were not limited by American’s traditional gender stereotypes and actually filled several critical tribal roles, far surpassing motherhood. Well-respected by men, women were known for their strength and also seen as vital contributors to their tribes.

Tribal Roles

  • Builders: Collecting needed materials, women built homes for their families and other tribespeople. They also handled home maintenance, including roofing.
  • Warriors: Women were known and recognized for their strength. Fighting alongside men, women served as warriors helping to protect their villages from outside threats.
  • Hunters and Gatherers: Working with the men of their tribes, women were also active participants in hunting buffalo. Once buffalo were killed, women handled prepping the animal by skinning, butchering and cooking the animal for consumption. They also often gathered firewood for their tribe.
  • Cooks and Farmers: Beyond cooking buffalo meat, women also handled most of the cooking for their families and the tribe as well as helped with farming.
  • Medicine Women: Regarded for their healing power and connection to the spirit world, women also worked as medicine women and gathered herbs for remedies.
  • Repairwomen: When shoes or clothing were in need of repair, the tribes looked to women’s skillsets to handle them.
  • Tool and Weapon Makers: Not letting any part of the buffalo go to waste, women used the bones and other animal bones to create tools and weapons out of them.
  • Craftswomen: Not only were women’s strengths recognized within tribes, but also their creative side. Women would put their talents and skills to good use creating everything from baskets and pottery to blankets and jewelry.

Still searching for the perfect gift for Mom? Visit Kachina House, your source for Native American arts and crafts.