Blackfoot Division of Labor

The women dress the skins, make their own clothes and most of those used by men. They make most of their own utensils: the tipi, the travois, the riding-gear, prepare and cook the food, gather the vegetables and berries, and carry the wood and water. As the greater part of the baggage, when traveling, is their property, they bear the burden of its transportation. It is a disgrace both to himself and his women, for a man to carry wood or water, to put up a tipi, to use a travois, to cook food when at home and above all to own food or provisions. 1 While the men usually did the butchering, the meat on arriving at the tipi became the property of the women. A young man may cook food but in seclusion. There is a pretty tale of a young fellow surprised by his sweetheart while cooking meat. He threw the hot meat into the bed and lay upon it. The girl embraced him and fondled him while the meat burned deeply into his body; but he did not wince.

In the tipi, a man seldom rises to get a drink of water but calls on the women to hand it to him. The men often make their own ornaments and sometimes their leggings and coats. The painted designs upon men’s robes and upon tipis are made by men; those upon parfleche and bags are by women.Citations:

  1. An informant states that this applies especially to married men: that in some cases a young single man is called upon to get water after dark, or at any time when it is very cold, a woman may call upon a young man to get wood.[]


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