30-50% of Hunters Were Women...
On Dec 11, 2020 Business Insider released an article entitled,
"13 discoveries in the last year have fundamentally altered our understanding of human history". I reco you go take a read in full, with the preamble that white anthro is deeply problematic and my personal approach is to intersect any imperial findings with my Salish and Plateau Indigenous histories, ideologies and living technologies. But I will bring your attention to the part of the article that was a Friday night gift for me that kept me up with relief, joy and liberty.
"Scientists discovered a 9,000-year-old burial site containing weapons and animal-skinning tools high in the Andes mountains of Peru. They assumed the human bones there came from a skilled male hunter.
But a closer look revealed that this hunter was female. Further analysis of 27 other burial sites across North and South America, which also contained hunting tools and date back to the same time period, revealed that 40% of the hunters were female."
In this article in EurekAlert from the University of California, Randy Haas, assistant professor of anthropology and the lead author of the study says, "We believe that these findings are particularly timely in light of contemporary conversations surrounding gendered labor practices and inequality," he added. "Labor practices among recent hunter-gatherer societies are highly gendered, which might lead some to believe that sexist inequalities in things like pay or rank are somehow 'natural.' But it's now clear that sexual division of labor was fundamentally different -- likely more equitable -- in our species' deep hunter-gatherer past."
Just let that sit for a minute. Let every moment in your life where a man used a "me hunt you cook and clean" Neanderthal comment go. Let every time you second guessed your ability to provide begone because the notion that "only men hunted," is a fallacy colonialism presumptuously erected to oppress women and gender non-conforming community members.
And holeh did they made some pretty wrong and deeply patriarchal fucking assumptions about who was doing what back then. And we all know who “they” are.
Now imperial history is founded on gender binaries and a lot of Indigenous communities did not prescribe to the classification and management of community members through genitalia. So even saying "men and women" is problematic and doesn't encompass and or reflect and include the Indigenous paradigm of our gender culture fluidity.
I think what we can derive from this study is the factual misinformation that the imperial state fed us about what we can do because of our "history" of where we come from and who did what. In school the whitewashed “history” I was being told was that men do all providing. Which is super wrongtown.
There are also some seriously unhelpful colonial ideologies about the hierarchy and importance of "providing" I want to honour. I think that imperialists successfully propagandized that killing animals is "harder" than raising children, picking berries and cultivating community and I want to refuse that comparative analysis and settler structure of importance.
But I think what we can procure from these findings is the right to refuse that men were the only providers. And here's a fucking fantastic part of the unearthings, it was not 2% not 10% not 20% not just 30% or even just 40% - up to 50% of hunters in these tribes were women. So the whole imperial patriarchal misogynistic “I’m the man and I do the providing” is deeply inaccurate. We have - WE - have been providing for the community since time immemorial.
We were right there participating and leading our own hunts. So any person in the community liking hunting and fishing isn’t “unique”, it is a cultural ascendency and social truth because these roles were not bound and confined to the contemporary imperial prescriptions and ideological gender restrictions. From my teachings, roles were strength and necessity based. The notion men did all the hunting is imperial patriarchal bullshit constructed to position people to be reliant on white cis men, founded on the fallacy that they are more capable. And I say this, don’t let colonialism feed you any more lies about what we ascend from.
Like legit not all of you were out there hunting and that’s fucking great cause I’m way better at snagging than at least 60% of you. And that includes trapping and hunting on the land and on the rivers as well as in the clubs.
It’s so liberating to know the breadth of “manliness” includes the scope of care taking, home making, cooking and childcare. Toxic masculinity, this violent adherence and oppression to male gender tropes, is harmful for everyone. It's not useful and now white culture knows - it's not fucking true. And obvi let’s extend this notion of hunting into the scope of what it means to contribute and provide today because it's absolutely still used to oppress Matriarchal energies.
I believe with this information, it is our responsibilities to start consciously deepening our practices of dismantling all the oppressive ideological obstructions imperial patriarchy continues to assert. I hope we as Indigenous peoples reignite this emancipatory truth into our bloodlines and cultures because many, many, many Indigenous communities have been toxified with the spectrum of imperial misogyny.
And we must remember that our young ones should be supported in what they are called to and interested in no matter the misinformation imperialism has fed us about gender and history.
So to the wee ones: grab that fishing rod, hold that crayon, make that meal and don't ever let any colonial construction obstruct you from doing exactly what your Ancestors have always done.
With deep love and peace,
p.s you can read more from Randall Haas', James Watson, Tammy Buonasera, John Southon, Jennifer C. Chen, Sarah Noe, Kevin Smith, Carlos Viviano Llave, Jelmer Eerkens and Glendon Parker's article, "Female hunters of the early Americas" article here.
p.p.s I'm releasing the last 4 episodes of The Indigenous Cultural Evolutionist by the end of this year so if you want to listen to the first half you can find the 5 Star rated series here.