Honoring Women: Reclaiming Coming of Age Ceremony
The Bioneers Indigeneity Program is the go-to source for accurate and contemporary information about Indigenous science, media, and curriculum for social change.
In this video, Dr. Cutcha Risling Baldy shares her story about how the Hoopa Valley Tribe revilitalized women’s coming-of-age ceremonies. Through the flower ceremony in particular, young women are honored at a time when the broader American society sends them messages that they are “lesser than” males. Dr. Risling Baldy explains how this tradition prevents teen suicide, educates young women about domestic abuse, and addresses patriarchy.
Featuring Dr. Cutcha Risling Baldy. This presentation took place in the Indigeneity Forum at the 2019 National Bioneers Conference.
Indigeneity is a Native-led Program within Bioneers/Collective Heritage Institute that promotes indigenous knowledge and approaches to solve the earth’s most pressing environmental and social issues through respectful dialogue.
From the Video’s Discussion Guide
Women’s coming of age ceremonies are celebrations of a girl’s first menstruation that demonstrate how young women are powerful members of their communities. Prior to invasion by western settlers, women and men in Northern California’s Hoopa Valley Tribe were considered equal, and spirituality was a part of all aspects of life. After gold was found in California in 1849, American settlers attempted to eradicate Northern California Indians by killing them and forcing survivors to assimilate to the American way of life, which included systemic attacks on Native women and their ceremonies. As a result, many tribes stopped practicing women’s ceremonies. In recent years, Native women throughout California have come together to bring back ceremony as a way to strengthen their community and heal from genocide.
Download the discussion guide here.
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