We Are Dancing for You: Native Feminisms and the Revitalization of Women’s Coming-of-Age Ceremonies (Indigenous Confluences)
“I am here. You will never be alone. We are dancing for you.” So begins Cutcha Risling Baldy’s deeply personal account of the revitalization of the women’s coming-of-age ceremony for the Hoopa Valley Tribe. At the end of the twentieth century, the tribe’s Flower Dance had not been fully practiced for decades. The women of the tribe, recognizing the critical importance of the tradition, undertook its revitalization using the memories of elders and medicine women and details found in museum archives, anthropological records, and oral histories.
Deeply rooted in Indigenous knowledge, Risling Baldy brings us the voices of people transformed by cultural revitalization, including the accounts of young women who have participated in the Flower Dance. Using a framework of Native feminisms, she locates this revival within a broad context of decolonizing praxis and considers how this renaissance of women’s coming-of-age ceremonies confounds ethnographic depictions of Native women; challenges anthropological theories about menstruation, gender, and coming-of-age; and addresses gender inequality and gender violence within Native communities.