At the time of their discovery, Native American women were the complete opposite of their European counterparts in the civilized world of the 15th Century.
To start, these wild women were not in any way subservient to men. They enjoyed the freedom to engage in work and hobbies of their choosing. Some hunted, others farmed and many participated in politics and warfare. Leaders in their communities, with the same rights as men, they had absolute control of their bodies and sexuality. Unlike the patriarchal society of the time, tribal women defined their own destinies.
Despite their contributions, anthropologists assumed only men were warriors, after all, war was considered “men’s work”. Women were overlooked and their names excluded from historical documents. What the historians failed to see, is that female warriors were a crucial part of tribal society. Wives accompanied their husbands into battle. Daughters fought next to their brothers. Being a warrior was not defined by gender.
Today there’s recognition. In sports, for instance, female athletes are celebrated and we know their names. They are our friends, sisters, daughters, mothers. They are us.
To get our celebration started, in collaboration with Be Present Studios, we have a special cover girl, Shama Ko. This Jiujiteira has been a pillar of women’s BJJ for two decades as a coach, competitor and director of the premier organization, Girls in Gis.
Next, comes a successful business woman. The first time I spoke with Wendy Jarvas I felt a kindred soul connection. The innovative fashion designer and creator of SicChic is determined to empower women through her example and work. Her story is a tribute to overcoming adversity with dignity.
Finally, a Jiujiteira who exemplifies what it means to be a modern warrior woman is our Close Choke interview and resident photographer, Lindsay Conley. Inspired by her Viking heritage, she brings everything that she is to the mats and not even a broken toe kept this maiden from training.
Thankfully not every female warrior was left out from the pages of history. One of the best-known battles of Indian-American warfare is the 1876 Battle of the Greasy Grass in Montana. One of the warriors who lead the counterattack was a woman named Tashenamani, or “Moving Robe”. The famous Sioux warrior, Rain-in-the-Face, whose name once caused terror in the frontier, was clearly impressed by this lady in battle as he describes her:
“Holding her brother’s war staff over her head, and leaning forward upon her charger, she looked as pretty as a bird. Always when there is a woman in the charge, it causes the warriors to compete with one another in displaying their valor.”
On that note, I say to all the pretty birds out there waging war on and off the mats, spread your wings in brutal beauty and never stop singing your battle song.
Here’s to an amazing summer! Oss.
– Evelyn Sutton
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