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ERIC Number: ED313174
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1989-Apr
Pages: 26
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: N/A
Creek Women and the "Civilizing" of Creek Society, 1790-1820.
Dysart, Jane E.
Women in traditional Creek society, while making few decisions in the public domain, held almost absolute power in the domestic realm. When a Creek couple married, the husband moved into his wife's house and lived among her clan, her matrilineal kin. The house, household goods, fields, and children belonged to her. Boys were educated by their maternal uncles, while girls learned domestic skills from their mothers and female kin. The Creeks' strong conservatism in the 18th and 19th centuries was undoubtedly reinforced by the matrilineal clan and constant interaction among women of different generations. The Indian agent and Jeffersonian reformer, Benjamin Hawkins, considered that women played a crucial role in Creek society and thus had to be targeted as instruments of change. From 1796 until his death in 1816, Hawkins lived among the Creeks and zealously promoted the "civilization program" devised by federal officials to transform the Indians into yeoman farmers and confiscate their hunting grounds. The success of this policy required that the system of matrilineal kinship and communal property give way to one of patrilineal inheritance and private ownership of property. To accomplish these goals, Hawkins and his assistants established a "model" farm, taught Creek women to spin and weave, attempted (unsuccessfully) to create "model" families through marriage with Creek women, and sought to instill the work ethic and attachment to individual property. Although some Creeks and their leaders adopted the white lifestyle, most rejected it and in 1813 went to war to destroy the leaders and instruments of "progress." This paper contains 26 references. (SV)
Publication Type: Historical Materials; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A