Lynne Harlan: Women in Cherokee society
"Traditionally, Cherokee women held the responsibility of tending their homes. Their responsibility ranged from raising their children and organizing their households to tending the family garden to participating in the affairs of the towns where they lived. The Cherokee traced their family lineage through the women and it was the clan of the woman which determined the heritage of the children.

Cherokee women also held property and in the event of the dissolution of a marriage the man would leave the home and return to his family a free man. The children were left with their clan and the men of the mother’s clan would assume responsibility of raising them. This is not to say that Cherokee men were not loving fathers and husbands, but that their roles might change and there was no shame in the failure of a marriage.

Through the last couple of hundred years, these distinct roles blurred. As Cherokee people intermarried with non-Cherokee and as Euro-American social norms became more prevalent, duties of the home became shared. Like many other families, the women still are primary caregivers but through time women’s roles in government were lessened, only to resurge in the 20th century."

Get the Story:
Lynne Harlan: Tribal society put great weight on women’s contributions (The Asheville Citizen-Times 3/27)