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Life Stages and Native Women

Written by: Kim Anderson, Maria Campbell - foreword
Narrated by: Marsha Knight, Maria Campbell
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Publisher's Summary

A rare and inspiring guide to the health and well-being of Aboriginal women and their communities.

The process of “digging up medicines”—of rediscovering the stories of the past—serves as a powerful healing force in the decolonization and recovery of Aboriginal communities. In Life Stages and Native Women, Kim Anderson shares the teachings of fourteen elders from the Canadian prairies and Ontario to illustrate how different life stages were experienced by Metis, Cree, and Anishinaabe girls and women during the mid-twentieth century. These elders relate stories about their own lives, the experiences of girls and women of their childhood communities, and customs related to pregnancy, birth, post-natal care, infant and child care, puberty rites, gender and age-specific work roles, the distinct roles of post-menopausal women, and women’s roles in managing death. Through these teachings, we learn how evolving responsibilities from infancy to adulthood shaped women’s identities and place within Indigenous society, and were integral to the health and well-being of their communities. By understanding how healthy communities were created in the past, Anderson explains how this traditional knowledge can be applied toward rebuilding healthy Indigenous communities today.

©2011 Kim Anderson (P)2022 University of Manitoba Press

What the critics say

“Kim Anderson’s book, Life Stages and Native Women is one I wish my Native mother could have read before she died. It is about the importance of women’s roles in Native culture but on a larger scale it is about the importance of the Feminine in holding communities together and the ‘medicines’ in stories that remind us of our strength.”—Melinda Burns, September issue of Off the Shelf (Guelph’s The Bookshelf)

“Anderson has achieved what she set out to do—introduce some cultural knowledge about the roles of women and the idea that some customs can be revived to everyone’s benefit. Life Stages and Native Women does not try to take the place of an elder’s teachings, but rather leads you in the right direction if you want to know more. If you’re interested in a more relaxed and modern look at aboriginal women than you’d find in an introduction to native studies class, you will enjoy this.”—Colleen Simard, Winnipeg Free Press

“When applying her work to health and wellness, Anderson shows that she is particularly invested in the community-based applications of her research in a way that is practical and meaningful and strengthens the roles of women in the community. She writes, ‘I wonder how different our communities might look if we honored all young girls for their sacredness and their potential, and if we granted the wise “old ladies” the role they once had in governing their families and communities (173).’ The book concludes with the powerful message that these stories can reconnect generations and provide the basis for the recreation of ceremony, societal roles, and life stages that can help to heal from colonization and create healthier communities by imagining a stronger way of life that connects the past to the present.”—Cutcha Risling Baldy, University of California, Davis, American Indian Culture and Research Journal 37:1 (2013)

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Heart warming and hopeful

Beautiful recount of a culture that need to be renewed. The world needs to witness the outcome. Amazingly resilient ways that many will benefit from. The youth are our future.

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