Matrilineal Societies – Women with Power and Respect

Posted By Toyacoyah Brown September 10th, 2014 Blog


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A lot of Native American tribes were matrilineal instead of the typical patrilineal societies you see from Europe. This meant that you were descended from your mother's clan, not your father's. It was also meant the women were involved in the decision-making process for the greater good of the tribe. Some of the more well-known matrilineal socieites are the Lenape, Hopi and Iroquois. The Chickasaw were also a matrilineal society and Chickasaw.TV has a lot of great videos on the subject.



In this first video Jeannie Barbour explains that southeastern tribes share a matrilineal societal organization:

In this video Joshua Hinson talks about how traditionally Chickasaw heritage descended solely from the female:

Jeannie Barbour notes the role of Chickasaw women in battle as communicators and strategists:

The matrilineal structure meant most property belonged to Chickasaw women, not men. When they moved to Indian Territory some Choctaw men wanted to marry these women for their wealth, making the Chickasaw worry about potentially losing their identity.

For more educational videos please visit Chickasaw.TV.

About Toyacoyah Brown

Toyacoyah Brown is an enrolled member of the Comanche Nation, currently living in Chicago. She received her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and an M.A. in Media Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. When she's not scouring the Internet for fun things to share with readers you can find her digging for vinyl in her local record store or curling up with a good book.

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18 thoughts on “Matrilineal Societies – Women with Power and Respect

  1. robert chavis says:

    the woman society is as old as time , until the euro/colonials came,,,but many natives here stayed on that good mind road,,,

  2. Patriarchal society is actually new to the west, female power was quite common, as was inheritance through the female line as it was the only provable blood line before science.

  3. wyatt Woid says:

    indigenous people have not caused any of the major problems that men can not solve. It is time to go back to matriarchies

  4. I can’t help but wonder if when the author said, “The Chickasaw were also a matrilineal society and Chickasaw” she meant “…and Choctaw” or some other tribe. As it reads, it doesn’t make sense.

    • The second time Chickasaw is mentioned in that sentence it is regarding a website to watch videos;

  5. Jasmine Roulette says:

    The men really depended on a woman’s intuition. It is another source of seeing.

  6. Matrilineal DOES NOT mean Matriarchal(ie, female lead). Matrilineal means your familial lines are measured by your mother’s line. Not all Native Amrtican Tribes were/ARE Matriarchal. For instance We Lakotas are “matrilineal”, but, We were/are a Patriarchal Society. You all need to rethink your observations and be specific about what Tribe You’re representing.

    • Mist nokmaq says:

      Yes you’re correct. Matrilineal and matriarchal are different things. However, both speak to the empowerment of women: one as creators of a line of descendants with rights to familial knowledge and property, and the other as respected leaders. Not all first nations are matrilineal; some follow patrilineal lines of heritage, and others allow for clan alliances to be made by the individual or their elders based on the needs of the community. Not all nations are matriarchal: some were governed by hereditary Chiefs who were counseled by a quorum of male and female elders, and others were governed by councils where women held equal seats. Still others were governed by separate councils of male or female leadership depending on the decision that needed to be made. Interestingly, war councils were almost universally made up of women. As life-givers, and the ones who bore the sons and daughters at risk, only women can know the full weight of sending people to war.
      What the article speaks to is the stark difference between western patriarchy that devalues the woman in a myriad of ways that don’t need to be demonstrated here, and traditional systems where women held rights and responsibilities equal or more honored than the men.

      • Joseph Littleshoes says:

        Consider the Hebrews. While Matrilineal they are the epitome of Patriarchy.

      • mist42nz says:

        “As life-givers, and the ones who bore the sons and daughters at risk, only women can know the full weight of sending people to war.”

        Good to see sexual bigotry is an equal rights movement.

        Most matriarchal societies lock themselves into blind tradition and ego worship, the classic old school nursing profession with its horizontal bullying was a perfect example. Nuns running Catholic schools is another.
        They can generally be identified by the complete lack of rights and identity for any of the lower classes, or people not in the “in” crowd, and the complete lack of evolutionary development of culture or technology.

      • Snake65 says:

        ““As life-givers, and the ones who bore the sons and daughters at risk, only women can know the full weight of sending people to war.”

        Good to see sexual bigotry is an equal rights movement.”

        That’s a bit like claiming that it’s sexual bigotry to point out that men have penises and women have uteruses.
        It’s nothing more than a simple statement of fact that women, as the ones who actually bear a new person withing their own body, have a tendency to view wanton killing such as war a bit differently than those who do not have so much invested in making new people.

  7. carlinmarie says:

    time to grow hemp/canibis natural news feds gave t r i b e permission houses food clothes in depend nsee :)) maybe as all words are p.s. like all tranquil sexwater play win win bless cmp

  8. Running Doe says:

    This is so true even in Cherokee ways, for my elders which is my grand parents taught and raised me, so very proud with respect, huminty, and honor, of all things

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