Showing posts with label Native American Women. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Native American Women. Show all posts


Betsey Guppy Chamberlain

American-Native American mill girl
Betsy Guppy Chamberlain, right,
with another Lowell Mill girl

Native American Mill Girl

During the 1830s and 1840s, Betsey Guppy Chamberlain (daughter of an Algonquian woman) worked in the textile mills of Lowell, Massachusetts and wrote stories for two workers' magazines. A brave and pioneering author, Chamberlain wrote the earliest known Native American fiction and some of the earliest nonfiction about the persecution of Native people.

Early Years
Betsey Guppy was born December 29, 1797 in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire on the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee. She was the daughter of William Guppy and Comfort Meserve Guppy. She was of mixed race: American and Algonquian Indian. Betsey married Josiah Chamberlain on June 25, 1820, and they had two children; he died July 19, 1823. Unable to do the work alone, she was forced to sell their farm and work in the mills in Lowell, Massachusetts to support herself and her children. The mills paid good wages, but the hours were long.


Madeline La Framboise

female fur trader in northern and western Michigan

Native American Bussinesswoman

La Framboise was one of the most successful fur traders in Michigan, while it was still considered the Northwest Territory. At that time, fur trading was a difficult, dangerous and male-dominated occupation. Madame La Framboise was one of the most prominent early businesswomen in the territory.

Madeline Marcotte was born in February 1780 at Mackinac Island, the daughter of a French-Canadian fur trader Jean Baptiste Marcotte and Marie Nekesh, an Ottawa Indian. Madeline was only 3 months old when her father died. She was raised among her mother's people in an Ottawa village at the mouth of the Grand River near Grand Haven Michigan. She must have been a person of some status there, as her grandfather was Chief Kewinoquot.


Frances Slocum

Indian captive kidnapped as a child from a Pennsylvania Quaker family

Abducted by Indians in Pennsylvania

Frances Slocum, or Maconaquah, (1773-1847) was an Indian captive who was taken from her family home in Pennsylvania in 1778 by the Delaware Tribe. She was raised by an elderly Miami Indian couple in what is now Ohio and Indiana. Slocum was reunited with her white relatives in 1838, but remained with her adopted Native American family for the rest of her life.

Image: The austere woman portrayed in this painting by artist John Froehlich is much less Frances Slocum and far more Maconaquah.

Childhood and Early Years
Frances Slocum was one of ten children born to Jonathan and Ruth Tripp Slocum, a Quaker family who emigrated from Rhode Island to the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania in 1777. During the Revolutionary War, the Slocums remained in the settlement while many others fled before the Battle of Wyoming in July 1778. During that battle British forces and Seneca warriors destroyed a nearby fort and killed over 300 American settlers.


Marie Dorion

Native American on the Astor Expedition

painting depicting Marie Dorion and her young boys lost in the winter wilderness of Oregon Country
Image: Marie Dorion - Escape 1814 by John Clymer

Marie Dorion (1786–1850), a Native American of the Iowa tribe, was the only female member of the Astor Expedition (1811-1812) from Missouri to Oregon Country. Her journey followed that of Sacagawea by six years, but Dorion's 3,500-mile trek was both longer and much more difficult. Her epic story shows the strength and perseverance needed to survive in the unforgiving wilderness of the Pacific Northwest.

Childhood and Early Years
A member of the Iowa tribe, Marie was probably born in 1786. It appears that Marie did not to have a Native American name. She was most likely baptized in the Roman Catholic Church early in her life; she also gave Christian names to her sons, Jean Baptiste and Paul.


Jane Johnston Schoolcraft

author, storyteller and recorder of Ojibwe oral history

Native American Author and Poet

Jane Johnston Schoolcraft (1800-1842) was the first Native American literary writer. She was also the first known Indian woman writer, the first known American Indian poet and the first known poet to write poems in a Native American language. Now, critics speculate about the extent to which Jane also contributed to her husband's writings, for which she was rarely given credit. So pensively joyful, so humbly sublime - this final line of her poem "Pensive Hours" aptly describes Schoolcraft's writing.

Childhood and Early Years
Jane Johnston Schoolcraft was born on January 31, 1800 in Sault Ste. Marie in the upper peninsula of what is now the state of Michigan. Her Ojibwe name was Bamewawagezhikaquay, which translates as Woman of the Sound that Stars Make Rushing through the Sky. One writer describes Schoolcraft as having been "intelligent, gentle, gracious and deeply religious," and, physically, "fairly tall and slender, with dark eyes and hair, which she wore in ringlets."


Polly Cooper

Oneida Woman Who Saved Washington's Army

Polly Cooper was an Oneida woman who took part in an expedition to aid the Continental Army during the American Revolution at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania during the bitterly cold winter of 1777-78. Cooper has long been held up as an example of the courage, generosity and indomitable spirit of the Oneida people.

Image: George Washington, Polly Cooper and Chief Skenandoah at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC

When the Revolution began, the Oneidas decided to fight side by side with the Americans, thus becoming the young country's first ally. In the summer of 1777, a pary of Oneidas fought at the Battle of Oriskany, a significant engagement in the Saratoga campaign. The Oneidas help General Nicholas Herkimer and his 800 Tryon County militiamen stop the British forces, preventing them from entering the Mohawk Valley and marching east along the valley to Albany.



bronze monument of Sacagawea with her baby on the Lewis and Clark Expedition

Native American on the Lewis and Clark Expedition

On February 28, 1803, President Thomas Jefferson won approval from Congress for a project that would become one of America's greatest stories of adventure. It would be led by Jefferson's secretary Meriwether Lewis and Lewis' friend William Clark. Sacagawea, a Lemhi Shoshone Indian, was the only woman to accompany the 33 members of the permanent party to the Pacific Ocean and back.

Image: Sacagawea and Jean-Baptiste Monument
Sacagawea Center in Salmon, Idaho

As to the pronunciation and spelling of her name, Captain Clark wrote that the "great object was to make every letter sound" in recording Indian words in their journals. He therefore recorded her name as Sacagawea (Sah-cah' gah-we-ah), a combination of the Hidatsa words for bird (sacaga) and woman (wea) - always with a 'g' in the third syllable.


Cherokee Women's Rights

Cherokee maiden

Women's Rights in Cherokee Society

Image: Loving Sun
Marianne Caroselli, Artist
(I know the Cherokee did not live in teepees; I just love this painting.)

In the early 18th century, the Cherokee existence was one marked by balance guided by oral tradition. Their belief in balance in all aspects of life didn't leave room for a system of hierarchy that oppressed women. Men primarily assumed the roles of hunters, while women took responsibility for agriculture and gathering.

At the time of European contact, the Cherokee controlled a large area of what is now the southeastern United States. Of the southeastern Indian confederacies of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries (Creek, Chickasaw, Choctaw), the Cherokee were one of the most populous and powerful, and were relatively isolated by their hilly and mountainous homeland.


Madame Montour

Pennsylvania colony history

The Year: 1727

Elizabeth Catherine Montour, better known as Madame Montour, was born in 1667 at Three Rivers, Canada, the daughter of Frenchman Pierre Couc and his Algonquin Native American wife (name unknown). Madam Montour spent several years in the early 1700s at Forts Mackinac and Detroit where her relatives were engaged in the Indian trade.

Catherine acquired the Montour surname when she married a Seneca brave named, Roland Montour. He appears to have been the father of some of her children, but little is known about him, not even details of his death. By this point in her life, she was known as Madame Montour, was living in New York in the area of the Genesee River.


Queen Anne of the Pamunkey

Pamunkey Native Americans

Queen of the Pamunkey Native Americans

Image: Pamunkey Sarah Langston Major and her family

The Pamunkey Native American tribe were the most powerful tribe in the great Powhatan Confederacy, which consisted of 35 tribes with a population of some 10,000 people under the leadership of Chief Powhatan. His territory encompassed the entire coastal plain of Virginia, from south of the James River to near Washington, DC. The chief was living among the Pamunkey when the English colonists first arrived in Virginia.

Queen Anne (ca. 1650 - ca. 1715) became the chief of the Pamunkey tribe when her aunt Cockacoeske died. Due to her authoritative position, she was always called Queen Anne by the colonists.


Iroquois Women

clan mother of the Iroquois tribe, who revered and respected women

Women in Iroquois History

Image: Jigonsaseh
Head Clan Mother of the Iroquois

The Iroquois were one of the most powerful Indian races, controlling land all the way down the eastern seaboard of North America and several hundred miles inland. A woman's place in Iroquois culture was very different from that in European cultures. Iroquois women enjoyed social equality and respect that was not shared by colonial American women.

The Iroquois Confederacy was composed of five different tribes, who banded together shortly before European contact. The tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy and other Northern Iroquoian-speaking peoples, including the Huron, lived in the region including what is now New York State and the Great Lakes area.


Kateri Tekakwitha

Native American woman

Native American Roman Catholic Nun

Lily of the Mohawks, as she is popularly known, was the first recorded Native American Roman Catholic nun in North America. She was born in 1656 at Gandawague Castle near Fonda, New York, to a Mohawk father and a Christianized Algonquin mother. Her mother had been taken captive by the Iroquois and given as wife to the chief of the Mohawk clan, the boldest and fiercest of the Five Nations.

When she was four, Kateri lost her parents and little brother in a smallpox epidemic that left her disfigured and half blind. She was adopted by two aunts and an uncle, who succeeded her father as Mohawk chief, but she was left largely on her own.


Squaw Sachem

Native American women

Native American Leader

Image: Squaw Sachem Sells Her Land to John Winthrop, from a mural painting by Aiden L. Ripley, 1924

When the first English colonists arrived in the Boston area, the only inhabitants of the region were members of the Massachuset tribe. The Massachuset occupied valleys of the Charles and Neponset Rivers in eastern Massachusetts, including the present site of Arlington, which the natives called Menotomy, meaning place of swiftly running water. The name Massachuset means those of the great hills, probably with reference to the ring of hills surrounding the Boston Basin.



marker memoralizing the Queen of the Pamunkey
Cockacoeske Marker

Queen of the Pamunkey

Cockacoeske was a Native American woman born on the land lying between the Pamunkey River and Mattaponi River in Virginia. Her father was Opechancanough, the Great Weroance of the Pamunkey Tribe. Each tribe was led by its own Weroance. (Weroance is an Algonquian word meaning tribal chief or king, notably among the Powhatan Confederacy of the Virginia coast and Chesapeake Bay region.)

Cockacoeske became the Queen of the Pamunkey after her husband Totopotomoy’s death in 1656 fighting as an ally of the English at what became known as the Battle of Bloody Run.


New Jersey Women

colony of new jersey native Americans

Native American, Dutch and English Women

Image: Lenape Woman

Native American Lenape women were the first New Jersey women. They lived in the Land of the Lenape for more than 12,000 years. They were a highly developed culture with communities that included a great hall, a central building for government, agricultural and spiritual meetings. Smallpox and other imported diseases ravaged the Lenape population. Although Lenape were known as a peaceful people, they were forced to defend themselves and their land against Dutch settlers in the 1600s.

Lenape communities included separate buildings for trade, food storage, cooking, children's education, medical purposes, and a building for teaching war tactics. Lenape communities also included single-family dwellings for newlyweds and elders. The central and largest building was used for gatherings to celebrate engagements, weddings, births, spring festival, and annual harvest.


Queen Weetamoo

Wampanoag Native Americans

Squaw Sachem of the Wampanoag

Weetamoo was born in 1640 to the Sachem (chief) of the Pocassets, Corbitant, and one of his wives. Weetamoo's name means sweet heart in the Pocasset language. She grew up in the Pocasset's largest and main village, Mettapoisett, on the shores of Cape Cod. She had a younger sister, Wootonekanuske. Because Corbitant had no sons, Weetamoo was destined to become the next Sachem of the Pocassets.

Since Weetamoo would one day become Sachem, she would endure a vision quest. At the age of fourteen, she was sent alone into the woods and fasted until her child soul was killed. She became a skilled hunter, swimmer, and fisherman. She also learned the duties of other girls in her tribe—smoking fish, cooking, and preparing animal hides for clothing.