American Indian Women had very important status American Indian society. They were regarded important members of the American Indian families. The roles of the American Indian Women varied from society to society.


Some of the tribes, such as the Iroquois nation, had matriarchal family setup. According to Cherokee custom, the women were the owners of the family property. Cherokee women cared for the young and the elderly, fashioned clothing and instruments and cured meat. Seneca Indian women ruled the clans and made all important decision regarding the land and resources. The clan in-charge woman was called “clan mother,” but tribe chiefs were Seneca men who made military decisions and trade agreements. Seneca Indian women used to vote to elect the Seneca men representatives of the Seneca Nation at the Iroquois Great Council. Generally Seneca Indian women had the ownership of all the land and the homes. They were in charge of farming, property, and family. They grew and harvested corn, beans, and squash, and also gathered medicinal plants, roots, berries, nuts, and fruits. The women also tended to domesticated animals like deer, dogs, turkeys, etc.

Generally, American Indian women were integrally involved in the construction of their dwellings. The women living in plains were the sole designers, makers and erectors of tipis that were originally crafted from buffalo hides, and later, canvas. Raising children was a primary responsibility of women. The daily lives of the American Indian women were oriented around food, clothing and shelter. They did a number of daily tasks including fetching water, planting & cultivating, preparing & cooking food, making pots, tools and baskets, processing animal hides, herding & shearing sheep, spinning & weaving wool, and raising children. American Indian women used to cover their bodies wraparound skirts with shorter leggings. Often the women wore kilt or overdress, and moccasins were worn on feet. The natives however started wearing cloths like shirts and blouses and started decorating them with beadwork and ribbon appliqué under the influence of European culture during the colonial era.

American Indian women had long hair and kept them loose or plaited into a long braid, but they cut their hair during the mourning times. Occasionally, the women used to wear traditional headdresses or special beaded tiaras.

The modern American Indian women wear modern clothes like skirts, jeans, t-shirts, etc. Traditional dresses are worn on traditional ceremonies. Some women wear feathers in their hair only on special occasions or on traditional dances.

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