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Response to polly7 (Reply #42)

Thu May 29, 2014, 05:57 PM

58. Thank you.

It's a curious topic. I like to look to history for possible answers. Long ago -- in the 700-850 ad's -- the social structure of the people on my mother's side of the family was undergoing huge changes. After the "Three Sisters" were introduced. originally from Mexico, then by way of the Ohio River Valley people -- communities became larger, and much more sedentary. The bow & arrow had also been introduced. Hence, women became the primary producers of food, and men became more solitary in hunting.

One of the results was the beginning of men's societies. The symbol that best illustrates these would be the wooden face masks, of the medicine societies. These masks were originally small, round stones, with rather crude eyes and mouths carved into them. It was later that they were carved into living trees.

Haudenosaunee culture became matriarchal in structure. The man married into the women's family/clan. Their children traced their roots through their mother and grandmothers. Women were in charge of decisions regarding divorce.

Thus, those men's societies were the way that men adopted to the changes. It would be silly to claim that they were all positive. But they evolved into something positive.

Men and women were recognized as being equal. That didn't mean that men and women were mistakenly viewed as exact. Children had the greatest rights. They were put first.

Exactly how far this culture might have progressed, if not for European intervention, is hard to say. But, as has been said, it held great promise.

Today, if there is a family issue at Onondaga, the non-Indian courts recognize that the nation has jurisdiction. The Elders -- both men and women -- decide issues, always based upon what is best for the children. I remember the afternoon that I got married for the second time. (Actually, the second time with the second person; Chief Waterman had already married us, but to have the marriage recognized by NYS, we did it again!) Chief Waterman, serving as my "best man," was late in picking me up. So I drove to his house. He wasn't there! Yikes! But my sister told me that he had been called by the Nedrow family court, about a conflict involving a teenager. That came first, and rightly so.

Our current American culture has damaged both men and women by way of its rigid gender roles, etc. At some point, we need to put the war between the sexes behind us, and treat each other like human beings.

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