Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.
For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.
Colorado Women is the first full-length chronicle of the lives, roles, and contributions of women in Colorado from prehistory through the modern day. A national leader in women's rights, Colorado was one of the first states to approve suffrage and the first to elect a woman to its legislature. Nevertheless, only a small fraction of the literature on Colorado history is devoted to women and, of those, most focus on well-known individuals.
The experiences of Colorado women differed greatly across economic, ethnic, and racial backgrounds. Marital status, religious affiliation, and sexual orientation colored their worlds and others' perceptions and expectations of them. Each chapter addresses the everyday lives of women in a certain period, placing them in historical context, and is followed by vignettes on women's organizations and notable individuals of the time.
Native American, Hispanic, African American, Asian and Anglo women's stories hail from across the state--from the Eastern Plains to the Front Range to the Western Slope--and in their telling a more complete history of Colorado emerges. Colorado Women makes a significant contribution to the discussion of women's presence in Colorado that will be of interest to historians, students, and the general reader interested in Colorado, women's and western history.
About the Author
Gail M. Beaton is a retired public school teacher and community college instructor. She earned a Master's degree in United States history and public history from the University of Colorado at Denver.
Read an Excerpt
Colorado Women A History
By Gail Marjorie Beaton
University Press of ColoradoCopyright © 2012 University Press of Colorado
All rights reserved.
In the southwest corner of Colorado lies Mesa Verde National Park. For centuries, its cliff dwellings lay silent and empty until a rancher stumbled upon the site. Even then, it was years before the place buzzed once again with human noise and activity. In centuries past, the dwellings snuggled beneath the overhang of cliffs were bustling with activity. Archaeological excavation and studies have helped to paint a picture of the lives of ancient cliff dwellers. Living high above the canyon floor, they threw what they did not want down the slope. Their garbage pits have provided scientists with an array of artifacts to study.
Stone metates, manos, and remnants of corn, beans, squash, and cotton indicate the existence of agriculture. Crops were planted on the flat mesas above the cliff dwellings. In front of the homes, kiva roofs created open courtyards where daily routines took place. Ancient Puebloans wove yucca plant fibers into sandals and mats for sitting, kneeling, or sleeping. In the hands of a skilled basket weaver, strands of yucca formed an airtight basket. Pottery was also made. Over the years, quality improved and pottery designs changed. The most recently found shard is of a distinctive black-on-white design. Long strands of clay were circled from bottom to top on a stone slab to form the sides of a pot. A woman used a stone tool to scrape the inside and outside of the clay vessel. Every so often she dipped the stone scraper into a small bowl of water. With the moistened scraper, she smoothed, shaped, and thinned her creation. She inspected, polished, and painted the pot before placing it in a campfire.
Living in the southwestern corner of the state, the Ancient Puebloans of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries were only the latest people to occupy the region later known as Colorado. The first people to arrive came from the north and west, moving south and eastward, approximately 12,000 years ago. They hunted herds of Columbian mammoths and mastodons for food, clothing, and shelter. Using stone-tipped spears, Paleoindians also competed with and hunted carnivorous saber-toothed cats, lions, bears, and wolves who feasted on plant-eating giant ground sloths, camels, mastodons, and mammoths. For thousands of years, the people followed the migrating herds. Perhaps a change in climate altered their habitat, resulting in extinction, or Paleoindians themselves brought about their demise through over-hunting.
Whatever the reason, by the time of the Folsom peoples — so named because of their distinctive tools discovered at Folsom, New Mexico — the mastodons and mammoths had given way to Bison antiquus, giant buffalo standing nine feet tall at the shoulders, as well as deer, antelope, bighorn sheep, and elk. Rabbits, prairie dogs, and rodents were also hunted. Although several hunters in extended family groups could fell most animals, it took a communal effort to dispatch enough bison to provide plenty of food and skins to last through the winter months. In the fall, bands of Paleoindian hunters gathered together at one site to kill dozens and even hundreds of bison at a time. Hunters stampeded the animals into a ravine or over cliffs, forcing the panicked bison to fall on top of one another. Next came the grueling work of butchering and processing tons of meat, fat, bone, and hide for food, tools, clothing, and shelter. Paleoindian women used stone tools to scrape, cut, and soften hides. They fashioned bone awls to pierce leather and sewed with thread of animal sinew.
After the butchering and processing of hides, the large group split up, spending most of the year in small bands of family members (mother, father, children, grandparents, perhaps aunts, uncles, and cousins). In this way they could forage for other foods to supplement their meat supply. Women and young children gathered chokecherries, raspberries, and wild cherries that were combined with meat paste and fat to form pemmican, an ancient portable "energy bar." Dandelions, prickly pear cactus, wild rose, and cattails were gathered and eaten, as well as piñon pine seeds and juniper berries. For medicine, Paleoindians gathered sagebrush and sweet grass that grew abundantly on the high plains.
Foraging for wild plant leaves, roots, and fruits; hunting; and food processing and cooking consumed the lives of Paleoindians. They traveled by foot and outfitted their domesticated dogs with a wood-framed travois to carry heavier items. Woven baskets of native grasses and reeds were used as storage containers, carrying vessels, and pots. For cooking, fire-heated stones were placed in water in a basket.
By around AD 1000, the Apishapa culture developed in today's southeastern Colorado and northeastern New Mexico. Modern man, zipping through this region in an automobile, scarcely notices the Arkansas River and its tributaries carving wide arroyos and deep, rock-lined canyons into the prairie grasslands. But for the Apishapa people this was home. Like earlier Paleoindians, the Apishapa traveled with the seasons, returning to certain camps over and over again. Extended families hunkered down under rock overhangs and between outcrops formed by the rivers and streams. Using rocks to create round enclosures, they added posts, brush, and mud to build shelters. They gathered wild plants and hunted small and large game using projectile points and bows and arrows. The Apishapa chiseled or carved petroglyphs and painted pictographs on canyon walls. Around AD 1400 the Apishapa disappeared from southeastern Colorado. Theories abound, including the idea that they and their unique culture were simply assimilated into other tribes.
Agriculture in the Western Hemisphere developed in Central America before spreading north and south into the rest of the Americas. People in the Southwest farmed as early as AD 500. In the valleys of the South Platte, Arkansas, Purgatoire, and Republican Rivers, people built earth-lodge villages and planted gardens in the bottomlands along the streams. They wandered in search of game and wild plants during the summer, returning to harvest their crops in the fall. In the Southwest, the Ancestral Puebloans slowly exchanged their nomadic life for an agricultural one with the planting of corn and squash. For the next twelve or thirteen centuries, their civilization advanced through four stages. During the first era, the Basket Maker Period (approximately AD 1–450), they lived in caves. The men hunted deer, mountain sheep, and mountain lions aided by an atlatl, an arm extender, to help them throw the spear farther. They also hunted rabbits, mice, gophers, badgers, and birds. Women farmed with wooden planting sticks and processed animal hides. The Basket Makers built pit houses as they made the transition from large animal hunting to agriculture. With only primitive tools, the Basket Makers laid the foundation for future civilizations, using "their own ingenuity to wrest the necessities of life from a none too favorable environment."
The Ancient Puebloans of the Southwest were short people with coarse black hair and brown skin. They usually wore little clothing; however, the cool evenings and winter months required fur blankets. Another important item they wore were sandals, woven of yucca fiber cord, double-soled, with heel and toe loops of human hair to attach them to the foot. Women hacked off their hair for these sandals. Burial sites yielding remains of Basket Maker men with ornaments in their hair elicited this observation from Hannah Marie Wormington, one of Colorado's earliest and most respected anthropologists:
This preoccupation with ornamentation might suggest some degree of vanity, and it is probably true that Basketmaker men gave a good bit of time and thought to their personal appearance. Basketmaker women, however, seem to have been a practical lot, far more concerned with material for their weaving than with their own appearance. The hair of female mummies is hacked off to a length of two or three inches. Of course cutting with a stone knife could hardly be expected to provide a particularly glamorous hair-do, and the fact that strands of hair seem to have been cut off at different times, presumably as the need for weaving material rose, added nothing to the general effect. While Basketmaker women would hardly furnish "pin up" material according to our standards, they presumably seemed attractive to Basketmaker men which, after all, was far more to the point.
Women carried their young in cradleboards they made by creating a frame of sticks, padding the frame with juniper bark, and covering the frame with fur-cloth blankets. A mother tied her baby to the cradle with a soft fur cord. In this way she could carry the cradle on her back, hang it on a branch, prop it against a tree or rock, or lay it on the ground as she worked.
Following the first Basket Maker Period was the Modified Basket Maker Period (AD 450–750), characterized by a more sedentary life and the establishment of regular communities. They began making rudimentary pots in addition to their woven baskets. The following Developmental-Pueblo Period (AD 750–1100) was a transitional period. Pit houses evolved from dwellings to specialized ceremonial structures. Cotton was grown; axes and hoes were developed. Women also changed the cradles they used for their young. Instead of a wooden frame covered in juniper bark, the new cradle was a wooden slab that flattened the infant's soft skull, giving earlier scholars the mistaken idea that these were an entirely new people and not a group descended from the earlier Basket Makers.
During the Great Pueblo Period of the twelfth and thirteen centuries, Ancient Puebloans built terraced communal houses in open areas and in caves. Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde, one of the best-known examples, is tangible evidence of a civilization at its peak. Clay or packed earth was laid upon the stone floors to make them warmer; doorways were T-shaped to allow a person with a load on his or her back to enter. Openings were cut to ventilate the space and allow smoke to escape. Niches and shelves were cut to store things. Dry farming and crude irrigation were used to grow beans, corn, squash, and cotton. Turkeys were raised for food. Their feathers were used for ornamentation and their bones for tools. The cliff dwelling settlements grew and prospered until the mid-1200s when, for reasons still unclear to archaeologists, the Ancient Ones abandoned the sites, perhaps to establish settlements in Arizona and the Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico.
Sometime after the Ancestral Puebloans deserted southwestern Colorado, bands of Ute Indians from the Great Basin migrated east and south into Colorado. Having acquired horses by the late 1600s, the Utes lived off the bounty of the forests, killing elk and deer during the summer and fall. Originally limited to the Western Slope, mounted Utes were able to conduct large bison-hunting expeditions on the eastern high plains where they competed with Plains Indians. With the acquisition of horses, the Utes came to resemble their enemies in many ways while still retaining some aspects of their Great Basin culture. Their clothing was similar to that of the Plains Indians, except that they also wore woven blankets of rabbit-skin strips. Women, who made most of the tribe's clothing, wore short skirts of shredded bark as they had done in the Great Basin. Men made some of their own ceremonial and hunting clothing and accessories. Vegetable fibers were used for clothing, shelter, blankets, basketry, and footwear. Women made sandals of yucca fiber, sagebrush bark, or muskrat hides tied together at the toes and heels and lined with softened sagebrush bark. In winter, leggings provided warmth.
A woman's most laborious chore was tanning hides. To do that, she scraped the inner surface clean of fat and flesh with a chisel-shaped flesher of antler or bone. Then she hung the hide on a slant pole frame to continue scraping. She stretched heavier buffalo hides on the ground. Working together, several women washed, soaked, rinsed, and wrung out the hide and then thoroughly rubbed boiled animal brains into it. After drying the hide in the sun for a few days, they again soaked, rinsed, and wrung it out by twisting it with a stick before hanging it out to dry. The long, tedious process of stretching by holding the hide with the feet and pulling it toward the body took half a day or more. Heavy hides might be further softened by rubbing them with a stone or pulling sinew rope back and forth over the surface, while lighter hides might be chewed. A woman left hides for her clothing white, but she smoked the hides used for men's clothing, tepees, and various bags. She hung the hides by a tripod over a fire for fifteen to thirty minutes. This was done early in the morning when the air was still, and different types of wood were burned. Greasewood turned skins yellow, willow dyed them brown, and pine resulted in a light yellow coloring.
Originally, Utes lived in wickiups — small, round shelters of poles and brush — like their Great Basin kin, but after acquiring the horse they adopted the tepees of the Plains Indians. The tepee was the woman's responsibility. She made it, put it up, took it down, and moved it from camp to camp. Dogs and, later, horses that were owned by women were used for riding, packing, and dragging the travois that carried the heavy tepees when camp was moved.
To make a tepee, a woman sewed together a dozen elk or fewer buffalo hides. Twelve tall poles from lodgepole pine were preferred, but Utes also used aspen and cedar poles. Four poles were bound together with a rawhide rope. Three women usually set up a tepee. Two women raised four poles to a vertical position and separated them to form an inverted cone. Slowly, one woman opened them out to full diameter, with the exception of two poles that were left about two feet apart to form the entrance. Directly opposite these, a pole on which the top of the canvas had been firmly fashioned was raised. The rest of the poles were then placed in position, supported by the crotches of the tied poles. A hide was stretched over the poles. Just above the entrance, two triangular-shaped flaps were used for ventilation and as a smoke hole. At this point, one woman would go inside the tepee and move the poles outward until the hide was tautly stretched over them. The lower edge was securely fastened to the ground with wooden pegs.
When breaking camp, women dismantled the tepees. They tied six poles on each side of a horse, laid the folded cover over the extension of the poles that dragged on the ground behind the horse, and then stacked their belongings on top of the extension. The dragging of the poles on the ground made a very broad track that was used year after year until the path became a well-worn "road." These "lodgepole trails" became wilderness highways followed by later explorers, prospectors, and freight wagons. Many of these old Ute trails — like Ute Pass, which runs from the plains through the Rockies near Colorado Springs — evolved into the routes of present-day roads and highways.
In the winter, fortified by the bounty of bison, Utes returned to the western river valleys to avoid harsh alpine conditions. Women and children gathered roots, pine nuts, acorns from dwarf oaks, and different kinds of berries. Some were eaten immediately; others were mashed with or without their seeds, dried in the sun, and stored. Women and young children gathered seeds of grasses and flowers by brushing the seeds into baskets or onto pieces of buckskin with willow branches or small woven fans. Seeds were parched on flat basketry trays by placing a handful or two of powdered charcoal or ash over them. The ashes and seed were then tossed in the air so the chaff was carried away by the wind or blown away by the mouth. A day's labor could result in about a quarter of a bushel of clean seeds, which were roasted in a tray.
Utes used a variety of methods to preserve food. Buffalo, deer, and elk meat were cut into thin strips and hung on racks to dry. Small fires under the racks kept insects away, added flavor, and hastened the drying process. Strips of dried meat were stored in parfleches, an Indian rawhide "suitcase." Doing double-duty, parfleches were also used to store clothing. Utes ate piñon nuts raw or parched over hot coals to remove the shells. What was not immediately eaten was ground into meal for later use. Women added water before baking the mixture in ashes or on hot rocks.
In addition to making and setting up tepees and gathering, processing, and cooking food, Ute women made basketry items. They coiled willow twigs to form baskets used for collecting, processing, and storing food; added pine sap to make baskets watertight; and constructed sleeping mats of willows laid in rows and twined together. Although baskets were an integral part of Ute life, pottery was rare, consisting mostly of water cups and cooking utensils.
While Ute women were occupied with their own chores, the men of the tribe spent the majority of their time hunting, fishing, and making the tools necessary to pursue and capture game. Rabbits, antelope, deer, and elk were stalked or ambushed by an individual hunter. Men, like women, made their own tools and weapons for hunting: bows and arrows, arrowheads, knives of obsidian or flint, quivers, and shields.
Although everyone had a general knowledge of plants used for cures, medicine women were the tribe's pharmacists. They gathered as many as 300 plants with therapeutic properties. Sage leaves were used for colds, split cactus or pine pitch for wounds and sores, powdered obsidian and sage tea mixture for sore eyes, grass to stop bleeding, and teas from various plants to treat stomachaches.
Excerpted from Colorado Women A History by Gail Marjorie Beaton. Copyright © 2012 University Press of Colorado. Excerpted by permission of University Press of Colorado.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsForeword by Thomas J. Noel,
CHAPTER 1: Early Women (Pre-History–1858),
CHAPTER 2: Pioneering Women (1859–1877),
CHAPTER 3: Making a Difference (1859– 1877),
CHAPTER 4: Settling In (1878– 1900),
CHAPTER 5: Organizing for Change (1878–1900),
CHAPTER 6: Breaking with Tradition (1901–1919),
CHAPTER 7: The Progressive Era (1901–1919),
CHAPTER 8: Conformity and Change (1920–1929),
CHAPTER 9: The Great Depression (1930–1939),
CHAPTER 10: Stepping Up (1940–1945),
CHAPTER 11: Conformity and Change, Take Two (1946–1960),
CHAPTER 12: The Modern Era (1961–Present),
Most Helpful Customer Reviews