So when trying to find a group for this panel i thought it would be interesting to look into a group of Native Americans and how the gender roles of the group inter-played with the technologies of the group. I picked the Abenaki (also known as the Wabanaki, as well as many other names) because I am part Native American and am unsure as to which group I’m related to and there is a good chance it might be the Abenaki or the Mohawks. I chose the Abenaki because they are from the Northeast, specifically Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, as am I. I thought they would have developed some interesting technologies to survive in the often harsh climates and not incredibly fertile land of Northern New England and Canada.
Any way, while doing the research for this group i realized there wasn’t much out there about the group before the English french settlers came, except for work done by this one anthropologist, who is an Abenaki, Frederick Matthew Wiesman. He starts his book Reclaiming The Ancestors by talking about how the Abenaki have been considered “dumb” in comparison to other groups of Native Americans (specifically the Iraqoui). They were considered “dumb” because they “were not” as technologically advanced as the Iraqoui and that any technology they did have came from the Iraqoui. Weisman’s goal is to rectify this by looking at new archeological data and retelling the story of the Abenaki and how in fact they were extremely technologically advanced. He proposes an amazing theory that he supports with a lot of data about their ability to do it and it’s usefulness for explaining an interesting mitochondrial DNA anomaly. He proposes that the Wabanaki had the ability to travel across the Atlantic in the gulf stream and reach Europe, in small trips, well before Europeans made it to America.
I feel this reclaiming of the Wabanaki’s story and capabilities is important to this class because of the importance of technology and how a group’s, (a kin’s) use of it defines what people think of them, in modern times. Because they were a relatively small and dispersed group of people their achievements have been over looked and thusly this group has almost been treated in a similar fashion as women and technology (either women who develop it or use it). They have been marginalized and considered incapable of developing technologies, when in fact they were quite technologically advanced. Also i think it is really interesting that technology, (the creation of and use of) is being used to divided up groups of Native Americans much like it is used in dividing up genders. And how by being tied with a certain group there are preconceived ideas of your technological skill.
Something else i have found while doing this research is that while there were specific gender roles, the men hunted and fished, and the women kept house and made things, they as a whole decided things together (like if they were going to go to war) and there was a mutual respect for the powers of each gender.
Sorry my thoughts are alittle all over the place, i’m still working through many of them as i read more and more. I would love to hear anyone’s thoughts on this stuff.