Countering Colonization: Native American Women and Great Lakes Missions, 1630-1900

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University of California Press, 1992 - History - 185 pages
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With Countering Colonization, Carol Devens offers a well-documented, revisionary history of Native American women. From the time of early Jesuit missionaries to the late nineteenth century, Devens brings Ojibwa, Cree, and Montagnais-Naskapi women of the Upper Great Lakes region to the fore. Far from being passive observers without regard for status and autonomy, these women were pivotal in their own communities and active in shaping the encounter between Native American and white civilizations.
While women's voices have been silenced in most accounts, their actions preserved in missionary letters and reports indicate the vital part women played during centuries of conflict. In contrast to some Indian men who accepted the missionaries' religious and secular teachings as useful tools for dealing with whites, many Indian women felt a strong threat to their ways of life and beliefs. Women endured torture and hardship, and even torched missionaries' homes in an attempt to reassert control over their lives. Devens demonstrates that gender conflicts in Native American communities, which anthropologists considered to be "aboriginal," resulted in large part from women's and men's divergence over the acceptance of missionaries and their message.
This book's perspective is unique in its focus on Native American women who acted to preserve their culture. In acknowledging these women as historically significant actors, Devens has written a work for every scholar and student seeking a more inclusive understanding of the North American past. With Countering Colonization, Carol Devens offers a well-documented, revisionary history of Native American women. From the time of early Jesuit missionaries to the late nineteenth century, Devens brings Ojibwa, Cree, and Montagnais-Naskapi women of the Upper Great Lakes region to the fore. Far from being passive observers without regard for status and autonomy, these women were pivotal in their own communities and active in shaping the encounter between Native American and white civilizations.
While women's voices have been silenced in most accounts, their actions preserved in missionary letters and reports indicate the vital part women played during centuries of conflict. In contrast to some Indian men who accepted the missionaries' religious and secular teachings as useful tools for dealing with whites, many Indian women felt a strong threat to their ways of life and beliefs. Women endured torture and hardship, and even torched missionaries' homes in an attempt to reassert control over their lives. Devens demonstrates that gender conflicts in Native American communities, which anthropologists considered to be "aboriginal," resulted in large part from women's and men's divergence over the acceptance of missionaries and their message.
This book's perspective is unique in its focus on Native American women who acted to preserve their culture. In acknowledging these women as historically significant actors, Devens has written a work for every scholar and student seeking a more inclusive understanding of the North American past.

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Review: Countering Colonization: Native American Women and Great Lakes Missions, 1630-1900

User Review  - Suzanne - Goodreads

Excellent treatise on women's history and the impact of the missions. Good background information, bibliography and citations. Read full review

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About the author (1992)

Carol Devens is Assistant Professor of History at Central Michigan University.

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