The appropriation of Sacajawea by the women's suffrage movement

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Publication Type honors thesis
School or College College of Social & Behavioral Science
Department Political Science
Faculty Mentor Ella Myers
Creator Shah, Diya
Title The appropriation of Sacajawea by the women's suffrage movement
Year graduated 2015
Date 2015-05
Description This project examines why Sacajawea was an attractive figure to be resurrected and appropriated during the U.S. suffrage movement, especially in the 1890s to 1920s. To understand the construction and use of Sacajawea, I analyzed about 25 newspaper articles published about Sacajawea in the 1900s and read numerous secondary research journals and books investigating Sacajawea. There are primarily three main findings of this research: (1) Sacajawea was used to re-gender "patriotism" from masculine to feminine. Suffragists argued that women's "services," "loyalty," and "sacrifices" should move beyond the household to public space. Referring to Sacajawea as a "patriot" and her acts as "patriotic" lent support to the notion that citizenship is not just for men. The suffragists' representation of Sacajawea was meant to show that women are "loyal," "giving" and "sacrificing," and therefore equipped to be citizens and patriots. (2) The representation of Sacajawea as a "faithful wife," "loving mother," and "administrator of the needs of others" made Sacajawea into a symbolic feminine figure. The suffrage argument revolved around the feminine virtues of women's roles as civilizers. Sacajawea's feminine virtues resonated with the women's traditional roles as wives, mothers, and servers, thus supporting the suffragists' claims that women would be positive influence in society if given the right to vote. (3) The civilizing role assigned to white women could be bolstered by Sacajawea only if her Indian identity was diminished. Sacajawea is therefore whitened, her features become Europeanized, and she becomes an "Indian princess" of "noble blood." Although Sacajawea's Indian identity is muted by her whitened, assimilated ways, Sacajawea still remains Indian.
Type Text
Publisher University of Utah
Subject Sacagawea Women -- Political activity -- United States; Women -- Suffrage -- United States
Language eng
Rights Management Copyright © Diya Shah 2015
Format Medium application/pdf
Format Extent 710,914 bytes
Identifier etd3/id/3615
Permissions Reference URL
ARK ark:/87278/s6km2m3j
Setname ir_htoa
Date Created 2015-07-28
Date Modified 2021-05-06
ID 197167
Reference URL
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