Native American Women - Women Warriors
The word 'warrior' sends a tingle of fear down the spine. The word conjures up fierce, merciless fighters seemingly invulnerable to fear or intimidation and prepared to fight to the death using deadly weapons and blood thirsty tactics to achieve victory. Not the usual image that we would associate with women - but there were many Native American Women Warriors. Whilst the warrior class in tribal societies was typically all-male, there were exceptions where young, unmarried women formed part of the warrior class - the Warrior Women.
Women Warriors - Lifestyle and Culture of North American Women
Native Indian tribes spread across the whole continent of North America. There were many different cultures that emerged based on the climate of an area and the natural resources available. The men and the women were dependant upon each other to live. And in many Native Indian cultures the men and women were considered equals. Native American Indian women were not subservient to men. The men adopted the role of hunter and the women usually adopted the conventional roles of raising the children, looking after the home and gathering food. But there were many circumstances when the female members of the tribe adopted the role of Women Warriors.
Women Warriors - Decision making roles
The Native Indian women were used to blood, guts, death and gore - it was their job to skin and prepare the carcasses of animals for food. They were also used to a violent war-like culture with many inter-tribal wars. Native Indian women often played an important role in decision making - in many tribes the women decided to go to war, when to stop a war and the torture and punishments for captives.
Women Warriors - Violence, Death and Torture
In some tribes the women mutilated the bodies of the fallen, whilst in other tribes women would torture prisoners to death. Women also played a role in ceremonies such as the Scalp Dance. Women Warriors were no strangers to violence.
Scalp Dance of Spokane women by Paul Kane
Women Warriors - Scalp Dance
In the above picture the central figure is a woman of the Spokane tribe, whose husband had been killed by a Blackfoot, The stick she waves has a Blackfoot scalp on top of it. The woman whirled around a fire swashing and kicking in revenge with a Blackfoot scalp on a stick. Behind her, eight painted women danced and chanted, as did the rest of the tribe to the beat of drums.
Attendant Women Dancers of the Scalp Dance from the Chualpay or Kettle Tribe
Painting by Paul Kane
Women Warriors - Face Paint and War Paint
The above picture is particularly interesting in respect of women warriors. A question often asked is "Did women warriors wear war paint?" The many pictures featured on this website confirm that Native American Indian women did wear face paint on many occasions and were also known to wear War Paint.