Early American History Seminar: Michelle LeMaster, Eastern Illinois University

Early American History and Culture Seminar
Thursday, November 20, 2003

3:30 pm to 5:30 pm

“Guns and Garters: Trade and the Stability of Native Gender Relations”
Michelle LeMaster, Eastern Illinois University
This paper analyzes the impact of trade on native gender relations in the eighteenth-century southeast. Previous histories have argued that the introduction of European manufactures disrupted the gender balance in native societies, causing women to become increasingly dependent on men and resulting in a decline in native women’s status. However, this paper argues that, far from being passive victims of the trade, native women were active in the fur trade, both as partners in production and as consumers. Further, the trade opened up new opportunities for both men and women, without requiring significant changes in gendered divisions of labor.