Native North America: from bodies to practices

Posted on May 2, 2010


The last case study that I incorporate into the middle section of my course, Archaeology of Sex and Gender, draws on the archaeological, bioarchaeological, historical and ethnographic record from Native North America. The emphasis on the widest possible range of disciplinary perspectives is critical, to remind students of the differences in perspectives and methods that can be used to understand past sex/gender.

A particular strength of the Native North American material is the ability to directly challenge what has been called the “correspondence” model of two sexes/two genders by considering what, in Chapter 2 of Ancient Bodies, Ancient Lives, I describe as

how the experiences of people in some Native American societies were organized so that more than two sex/gender positions were produced.

Articles discussed by individual student panels:

Hurtado, A. 2002: “Sexuality in California’s Franciscan Missions” Pp. 166-182 in Sexualities in History, Kim Phillips and Barry Reay, eds. New York: Routledge

Hollimon, S. 2006: “The Archaeology of non-binary genders in Native North America”. Pp. 435-450 in Handbook of Gender in Archaeology, Sarah Nelson, ed. Lanham, MD: AltaMira.

Midnight Sun 1988: “Sex/gender systems in Native North America” Pp. 32-47 in Living the Spirit, W. Roscoe ed. New York: St Martin’s Press.

Prine, E. 2000: Searching for third genders: towards a prehistory of domestic space in Middle Missouri villages, in Archaeologies of Sexuality, pp. 197-219.

Whitehead, H. 1993: The Bow and the Burden Strap” Pp. 498-527 in The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader, H. Abelove, M. A. Barale, and D. M. Halperin, eds. New York: Routledge.