Wednesday, May 8, 2019

A Mother's Sphere of Influence by Abagail Eldan

While doing research, I came across mention of The Women's National Indian Association (WNIA), formed in 1879. While the WNIA used their influence to encourage the honoring of Indian treaties, and that was certianly a worthy endeavor, they also meddled in the affairs of Native American lives.

Not in all, but in many Native American tribes, the women farmed as well as performed domestic chores. Native American men hunted, fished, and protected the village, often going to war with neighboring tribes, and later, with the European settlers.

The settlers were disconcerted to see Native American women farming the land--a job they viewed as man's work. The WNIA had an agenda. Their approach to the tribes was to encourage more home-centered activities for the women. They wished to teach them, what they believed, was a better way of life. 

Native Americans also differed in European male/female roles in other ways. For example, the inheritance of material goods was through the maternal side. (Remember that America had many Native American tribes and their customs vary greatly. I am speaking in generalities.) 

Also, as we know from many films and TV series, the chief was an older male. But did you know that he was often appointed by a maternal clan? Not only did they put men into power, they could also stip them of power if they became dissatisfied with the job performance. 

By this time in history, in the 1800s, the European view of a woman's sphere of influence had become firmly entrenched, and that sphere resided in her home and family. A popular poem by William Ross Wallace, published in 1865, epitomizes this. 


      BLESSINGS on the hand of women! 
        Angels guard its strength and grace. 
      In the palace, cottage, hovel, 
          Oh, no matter where the place; 
      Would that never storms assailed it, 
          Rainbows ever gently curled, 
      For the hand that rocks the cradle 
          Is the hand that rules the world.

      Infancy's the tender fountain, 
          Power may with beauty flow, 
      Mothers first to guide the streamlets, 
          From them souls unresting grow— 
      Grow on for the good or evil, 
          Sunshine streamed or evil hurled, 
      For the hand that rocks the cradle 
          Is the hand that rules the world.

      Woman, how divine your mission, 
          Here upon our natal sod; 
      Keep—oh, keep the young heart open 
          Always to the breath of God! 
      All true trophies of the ages 
          Are from mother-love impearled, 
      For the hand that rocks the cradle 
          Is the hand that rules the world.

      Blessings on the hand of women! 
          Fathers, sons, and daughters cry, 
      And the sacred song is mingled 
          With the worship in the sky— 
      Mingles where no tempest darkens, 
          Rainbows evermore are hurled; 
      For the hand that rocks the cradle 
          Is the hand that rules the world.

 While I am not belittling the mother's role (in my own life, it was second only to my role as wife when my children were growing up), the Bible has many verses admonishing fathers to parent their children. One of my favorites is Deuteronomy 6:6-9:

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

Fathers, I think we can all agree, should have influence their children's lives at least as much as the mother. People often forget this, as we see by the actions of the WNIA. They pressured Native Americans to adopt the European viewpoint--that of the men as farmers and the women as "keepers of the home," especially regarding the care of their children. 

Mother's Day is nearing, and note that I am not dismissing the great impact mothers have had on their children through the ages. However, that impact may be manifest in ways not obvious to our eyes. Grandfathers, grandmothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins, and family friends all have roles to play. A mother's influence may be great but it multiplies when others do their part as well.
(Credit to Wikipedia and

Wishing all the mothers out there a happy Mother's Day, a few days early.

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My latest book is Joy, Unending, part of the Lockets & Lace series.

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