How Did White Women Reformers with the Southern Utes
Respond to Gendered Assimilationist Indian Policies?

Abstract

      Documents left by white women reformers on the Southern Ute reservation in the early twentieth century illuminate several historical trends in Indian Affairs. Every one of these women--field matrons, school teachers, and volunteer women--advocated altering Indian gender roles to reflect Euro-American values and behavior. Indeed, they saw this transformation as the basis of Indian "progress." Ironically, this agenda generated numerous civil service jobs for white and assimilated Indian women who carried the vision to schools and homes. Thus, women professionals in the dominant culture found employment in the Indian Service as advocates of a conventional role for Indian women--economically dependent homemaker. The documents in this project reveal that gender not only provided a focus for assimilationist activities, but also played a major role in the creation of Indian policy.

   

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