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Empowerment of North American Indian Girls: Ritual Expressions at Puberty


reviewed by Teresa L. McCarty — September 16, 2008

coverTitle: Empowerment of North American Indian Girls: Ritual Expressions at Puberty
Author(s): Carol A. Markstrom
Publisher: University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln
ISBN: 0803232578, Pages: 456, Year: 2008
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What are the functions of girls’ coming-of-age ceremonies in Native North American societies?  This is the question taken up by developmental psychologist Carol A. Markstrom in Empowerment of North American Indian Girls, who notes on her Web site that her interest in Native peoples “was solidified through work with Ojibwe and Dakota Sioux families and adolescents in Minnesota and South Dakota” (http://www.hre.wvu.edu/cmarkstrom). Based on extended fieldwork among the San Carlos Apaches in east-central Arizona, briefer observations of girls’ puberty rites on the Mescalero Apache and Navajo reservations in the Southwest, interviews with Lakota and Ojibwe community members, and more general ethnohistorical research, Markstrom’s central argument is that the purpose of these ceremonies is not to ensure girls’ fertility, but rather to confer individual benefits on initiates while reinforcing kin and extra-kin ties and community values and spiritual beliefs. Symbolically and behaviorally, these processes help ensure cultural continuity and “society’s hope... (preview truncated at 150 words.)


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: September 16, 2008
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15376, Date Accessed: 10/18/2017 1:53:45 AM

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About the Author
  • Teresa McCarty
    Arizona State University
    E-mail Author
    TERESA L. MCCARTY is the Alice Wiley Snell Professor of Education Policy Studies and Professor of Applied Linguistics at Arizona State University. An educational anthropologist, her research and teaching focus on American Indian/Indigenous and language minority education, language education planning and policy, critical literacy studies, and ethnographic methods in education. She is the former editor of Anthropology and Education Quarterly, and she currently directs a large-scale study of the impacts of Native language loss and retention on American Indian students’ school achievement. Her recent books include Language, Literacy, and Power in Schooling (Erlbaum, 2005), A Place To Be Navajo: Rough Rock and the Struggle for Self-Determination in Indigenous Schooling (Erlbaum, 2002), and “To Remain an Indian”: Lessons in Democracy from a Century of Native American Education (with K. T. Lomawaima, Teachers College Press, 2006).
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