Lesson 2: "Hidden" Gender Equality: Examining Plateau Culture

This lesson builds on concepts established in lesson one by introducing an example of knowledge that non-Native cultures and people miss when certain perspectives are discounted, devalued or “hidden” due to racist and colonial structures of power. Lesson One established that Westerners prioritize non-Native knowledge frameworks by actively stereotyping and devaluing Native People and their knowledge. As a result, non-Native societies have historically disregarded cultural knowledge present in Indigenous societies, and thus we miss opportunities to enhance our own cultural knowledge in the U.S. In this specific example, Western society missed the opportunity to become a more gender-equal society by refusing to listen to or follow the example of Native People. Thus, our prioritization of non-Native knowledge not only harms marginalized groups such as Native People, but also restricts the potential of non-Native society to become more equal, hindering the opportunity to enhance our global construction of knowledge.

In this lesson, students will begin with what they think they know about gender and engage in both written and verbal dialogue that expands their understanding about gender, what it means, what it is in non-Native American society, and what it can be. Students will learn about gender equality in Indigenous societies from a case study of Plateau cultures. Then, they will synthesize this information with their understanding of gender in non-Native American society to inform their conceptions of gender, equality, and knowledge. This will lead into the final lesson of the unit which examines how the principles of gender in Native People’s communities influenced early European-American feminists.