Indigenous Women’s Day

Today the State of New York
formally recognizes the role Haudenosaunee Women played in influencing the early suffragettes by declaring July 15th Indigenous Women’s Day at the Women’s Rights Historical Park.
Clan mothers and traditional chiefs from all the Haudenosaunee Territories will be present for the declaration.
Early campaigners for Women’s right to vote and hold property met at the home of Quaker abolitionists Mary Ann and Thomas M’Clintock on July 16th, 1848 to draft the Declaration of Sentiments demanding Women’s rights. But according to pioneering Women’s Studies scholar Sally Roesch Wagner
they suffragettes did not develop their Declaration without role models among their contemporaries among the Haudenosaunee. In the “Untold Story of the Iroquois Influence on the Early Feminists” Wagner writes:
I realized I had been skimming over the source of their inspiration without noticing it. My own unconscious white supremacy had kept me from recognizing what these prototypical feminists kept insisting in their own writings: They caught a glimpse of the possibility of freedom because they knew women who lived liberated lives, women who had always possessed rights beyond their wildest imaginations, Iroquois women.
Haudenosaunee (the French called them Iroquois) women held property, made and make the important decisions to guide their clans and families, choose the chiefs and remove them from power if they stray from the path, and determined the bloodline and inheritance of children matrilineally. They controlled their own bodies, practiced family planning and had equal rights in family decisions.
By comparison contemporary white women in 19th century were chattel slaves of their husbands or fathers.
They could only hold property if they were single; once married they and their property became the property of their husbands. They paid taxes but could not vote.
Lucretia Mott and Matilda Gage were close with Haudenosaunee women as were others among the early suffragettes.
At long last their mentors and role models are being recognized today at Seneca Falls.


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