We Are Dancing for You

Native Feminisms and the Revitalization of Women's Coming-of-Age Ceremonies

Cutcha Risling Baldy

  • Published: June 2018
  • Subject Listing: Native American and Indigenous Studies; Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
  • Bibliographic information: 208 pp., 0 bandw illus., 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Series: Indigenous Confluences
  • Contents

"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.
Cutcha Risling Baldy is assistant professor of Native American studies at Humboldt University and a member of the Hoopa Valley Tribe.

"A truly significant contribution to the field exploring Indigenous approaches to menstruation and the meaning of womanhood. That it is grounded in the particular culture of the author makes it all the more valuable and unique."
-Kim Anderson, author of Life Stages and Native Women: Memory, Teachings, and Story Medicine

"I am in awe . . . Risling Baldy's interventions into the field are many and absolutely necessary. We Are Dancing for You is located in a place, in the lives of a community where the voices of individual women are heard, as is the author's. [This book] locates its authority in community knowledge and language. It pushes back against the outside, primarily white male ethnographic professional as authority."
-Dian Million (Tanana), author of Therapeutic Nations: Healing in an Age of Indigenous Human Rights