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The Athabascans - Social life and patriarchal influence
The Athabascan people traditionally lived in Interior Alaska, an expansive region that begins south of the Brooks Mountain Range and continues down to the Kenai Peninsula. There are eleven linguistic groups of Athabascans in Alaska. Athabascan people have traditionally lived along five major river ways: the Yukon, the Tanana, the Susitna, the Kuskokwim, and the Copper river drainages. Athabascans were highly nomadic [1], traveling in small groups to fish, hunt and trap.

Social Organization

The Athabascans have matrilineal system in which children belong to the mother's clan, rather than to the father's clan, with the exception of the Holikachuk and the Deg Hit'an. Clan elders made decisions concerning marriage, leadership, and trading customs. Often the core of the traditional group was a woman and her brother, and their two families. In such a combination the brother and his sister's husband often became hunting partners for life. Sometimes these hunting partnerships started when a couple married.

Traditional Athabascan husbands were expected to live with the wife's family during the first year, when the new husband would work for the family and go hunting with his brothers-in-law. A central feature of traditional Athabascan life was (and still is for some) a system whereby the mother's brother takes social responsibility for training and socializing his sister's children so that the children grow up knowing their clan history and customs. [2]

"In 1959 Alaska became a state.  By becoming a state, the government had  more control over things like fish and game  and they also made the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), which was established in 1972. That said that Indians in Alaska cannot have their own land that they can govern over. 

By taking over the fish and game, we couldn't hunt as much as we used to.  Plus the government gave us money for education and and that made us more dependent  on the state. 

The other thing that really changed our way of living was technology. In the 1970's, the Alyeska Pipe Line was built.  That brought in a lot more money from outside and a lot more cash to rural villages that have not yet developed.  With that money we purchased more technology for our villages, like computers for the schools, building material for houses and buildings. With the computers, we got on the internet. 

Once we lived the way that the white people lived we couldn't let go. In the village of Minto just about everyone has electricity, running water, a television set, and an oil burning furnace. 

No more burning candles for light, building a fire for heat, hauling water, one room cabins, or canvas wall tents.  We still carry on a part of our traditions like Indian singing and dancing, potlatches and our beliefs. But we are losing our language.  We do know little word.  If we were to listen to our elders talk in the native tongue, we would have no idea what they are talking about. 

I think that we are spoiled and will never go back to the old Indian way that our ancestors have lived. We will never go back to the  way we lived; we are spoiled now because of the white man ways." [3]





"Today's Matriarchies From the Newest View"

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Women in The Ancient World
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