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Indigenous Women and WorkFrom Labor to Activism$
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Carol Williams

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037153

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037153.001.0001

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Diverted Mothering among American Indian Domestic Servants, 1920–1940

Diverted Mothering among American Indian Domestic Servants, 1920–1940

(p.179) Chapter 11 Diverted Mothering among American Indian Domestic Servants, 1920–1940
Indigenous Women and Work

Margaret D. Jacobs

University of Illinois Press

This chapter focuses on young Indian women who took up domestic service in white women's households in urban areas of the American West. Most women found this work tedious and their employers imperious. In particular, many intensely disliked caring for white women's children. However, despite the oppressive nature of domestic service, many Indian women gravitated to these jobs in urban areas where they formed a vibrant social network with other Indian youth and reveled in modern urban leisure pursuits. While in service, many young Indian women became pregnant out of wedlock and then confronted a dilemma about how to mother their own children while earning a living as domestics and caretakers of other children. Examining the case files of ninety-seven Indian domestic servants in the San Francisco Bay Area between 1920 and 1940, the chapter considers the ways in which Indian women's paid work as domestic servants often undermined their unpaid culturally reproductive work as mothers.

Keywords:   Native American women, domestic service, servants, indigenous women, women's work, white women

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