Empowerment of North American Indian Girls


Empowerment of North American Indian Girls

Ritual Expressions at Puberty

Carol A. Markstrom

456 pages
11 photographs, 6 tables, index


January 2010


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March 2008


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eBook (PDF)
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March 2008


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About the Book

Empowerment of North American Indian Girls is an examination of coming-of-age-ceremonies for American Indian girls past and present, featuring an in-depth look at Native ideas about human development and puberty. Many North American Indian cultures regard the transition from childhood to adulthood as a pivotal and potentially vulnerable phase of life and have accordingly devised coming-of-age rituals to affirm traditional values and community support for its members. Such rituals are a positive and enabling social force in many modern Native communities whose younger generations are wrestling with substance abuse, mental health problems, suicide, and school dropout.
Developmental psychologist Carol A. Markstrom reviews indigenous, historical, and anthropological literatures and conveys the results of her fieldwork to provide descriptive accounts of North American Indian coming-of-age rituals. She gives special attention to the female puberty rituals in four communities: Apache, Navajo, Lakota, and Ojibwa. Of particular interest is the distinctive Apache Sunrise Dance, which is described and analyzed in detail. Also included are American Indian feminist interpretations of menstruation and menstrual taboos, the feminine in cosmology, and the significance of puberty customs and rites for the development of young women.

Author Bio

Carol A. Markstrom is a professor in the Department of Technology, Learning, and Culture in the College of Human Resources and Education at West Virginia University. She is the coauthor of The Adolescent Experience, fourth edition, and Adolescent Life Experiences, third edition, and has authored numerous scholarly works on adolescents and American Indians.

Table of Contents


1. Overview of Coming-of-Age Ceremonies
2. Contemporary Youth Concerns in Historical Perspective
3. North American Indian Perspectives on Human Development
4. Menstruation, Cosmology, and Feminism
5. Historical Overview of Coming-of-Age Practices
6. Description of the Apache Sunrise Ceremony
7. Interpretation of the Apache Sunrise Ceremony
8. Contemporary Navajo, Lakota, and Ojibwa Puberty Customs
9. Broader Perspectives on Coming-of-Age




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