Iroquois women gain power to veto wars, 1600s

 

During the 1600’s the Iroquois Indian Nations, a group of several indigenous tribes in North America, engaged in warfare with many other tribes. The men controlled when and against whom they declared a war.

Tribal Iroquois women decided that they wanted to stop unregulated warfare, and thought of a way to convince the Iroquois men to give them more power in deciding issues of war and peace.

First, the Iroquois women boycotted lovemaking and childbearing. This type of boycott of sex is currently referred to as Lysistratic non-action. Iroquois men believed that Iroquois women knew the secret of birth, which made this a powerful tactic.

Second, the women began to restrict the warriors' access to supplies because they had complete control over planting and cultivating crops. The women prevented warriors from acquiring necessary supplies by withholding needed commodities such as dried corn and moccasins. Although the Iroquois men controlled politics, they could not go to war without the necessary supplies, which were controlled by the women.

The men eventually gave in to the women’s demands and granted them veto power concerning all wars. This nonviolent action has been considered the first feminist rebellion in the United States.