Gender Roles

Female Activities, Rights of Passage, Responsibilities, General Information

Women have the responsibility to give birth and to nurture new life.  The Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara peoples all showed deep respect for women.  The women owned and cared for the gardens that fed all three tribes.  When a young lady became a woman it was a very sacred and holy time for her and her family.  Traditionally, there were formal ceremonies every young lady experienced at the time of her first menstrual cycle. During these ceremonies, a young lady’s grandmother and other female relatives would teach her how to show respect for herself. 

Some of these teachings suggested that during the menstrual, a young lady must avoid ceremonies, not touch sacred objects, nor prepare food for such ceremonies.  It was believed the prayers of the young women were strong during the menstrual cycle; she was taught to keep positive thoughts and actions during this time.  Some families continue to practice these traditions and ceremonies, but others have lost the knowledge or do not practice these rights.  The Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara women are expected to know their role within their family, Tribe, and Clan.

Male Activities, Rights of Passage, Responsibilities, General Information

Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara men’s role was to protect and show honor to their people.  They were taught their role by the respectable men within their families. The young boys learned to hunt, to provide for their family, and to follow a prayerful way of life which bestowed honor upon their families.  Men were expected to be hard workers and helpful to the elders and relatives.  They were expected to learn from their older male relatives all responsibilities to themselves, to their families, clan and Tribe. 

At one time there were formal rights of passage such as a young man being expected to fast and seek their path in life through prayer.  Even today, many young men take their first kill in hunting and give it to their elder relatives.   There remains an expectation for all men to know what is taught by their male relatives.  It is essential for a young man to know his family kinship since it is the responsibility of the older male relatives to teach the young men what it is to be a Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara man.


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