Matrilineal Native Americans

By Diana Cihak

chickasawmatrilineal-900x562When I attended my first Women’s March in 2017 I learned something new and wonderful.  A speaker from the Haudenosaunee Tribe, that has existed in Central New York for hundreds of years, talked about their tradition of women’s empowerment.  She did not call it Matriarchal.  Instead she used the term matrilineal, which means that major property distribution was through the women’s line and the mothers had executive veto power over major decisions of men’s counsels, creating a kind of bicameral system.

But she did say that by this system women have always had significant power and influence in the tribe.  They were the peacemakers and they have the final say if the men went to war.  They owned the land and tended it.  In other words they held the power.

A little research led me to realize that the Haudenosaunee were not the only tribe where the women held the power.

I take this as a positive sign.  That on this land that we now call the United States there lived tribes of individuals that peacefully existed on this land for hundreds of years before the European settlers came and destroyed their way of life.  And that those tribes survived all those years because they had a balance of power between the genders.

It should give us some hope that we may be able to get back to that ideal that lasted much longer than the United States has now been in existence.  It must have been a pretty good system.

For a great article with video interviews on Native Matrilineal societies visit:




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