'We worry about survival': American Indian women, sovereignty, and the right to bear and raise children in the 1970s

by O'Sullivan, Meg Devlin, Ph.D., THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL, 2007, 212 pages; 3289127


This dissertation examines the political activism of American Indian women during the 1970s. Confronted with racism from the dominant society and sexism from both within and outside of their communities, these women constructed a feminist agenda that addressed their concerns as Indians and women. In particular, they worked to end coerced sterilization and the rampant removal of Indian children from their communities and homes. Building on new scholarship that has argued the struggle for reproductive freedom included the right to bear children as well as prevent births, ‘We Worry About Survival’ looks at the crucial role Indian women played in arresting sterilization abuse and defining American women's struggle for reproductive justice. At the same time that Indian women's activism to end coerced sterilization informed the goals of the feminist movement, their activism to reform adoption and foster care processes shaped the meaning of tribal sovereignty in the late twentieth century. The project describes not only the tangible achievements of these women in effecting federal regulations and legislation, but also their influence on mainstream American feminist ideology and Indian Country's interpretation of women's and children's rights as sovereign rights.

AdvisersTheda Perdue; Michael D. Green
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsAmerican history; Women's studies; Native American studies
Publication Number3289127

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