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Cherokee Women Although its title says otherwise this is novel is not a novel that focuses solely on female life Instead Cherokee Women rewrites the history of the Cherokee people by placing women in the forefront and by showing how gender affected the Cherokee culture and their relations with Americans In the process Theda Perdue tells the history of the most civilized tribe in terms of continuing traditions As Perdue demonstrates the world of Cherokee men and the world of Cherokee women although interconnected in many ways remained separate throughout the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries It was primarily through the female domain and gender norms that cultural persistence prevailed This interpretation is different from earlier ideas of the Cherokee Perdue shows how many innovations within Cherokee culture were adapted to fit into the traditional order As a result Perdue does more than uncover the unwritten history of Cherokee women she also portrays Cherokee society from the lowest levels to the top Those with formal political and economic power fall outside the Cherokee mainstream and into the fringes of their society In their places stand the majority of the Cherokee people those women and men who rarely entered the historical records and whose participation in the white mans affairs was usually secondhand The Cherokees never adopted American civilization they merely adapted it to fit their needs and their fixed ideas about gender In traditional Cherokee society around 1700 men and women lived as completely separate people Women farmed and controlled the home while men hunted and were warriors This squared with the Cherokee cosmology which had men and women balancing each other as complementary entities Men and women came together to fulfill economic political and biological necessities but their lives remained rather secretive from one another There were certain understood guidelines that told what belonged to women and what belonged to men those who deviated from these gender norms were viewed with hostility
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