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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Ruth Dial Woods, June 12, 1992. Interview L-0078. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Tension between feminism and Lumbee culture

Woods describes how her activism in the feminist movement was at odds with expected behavior for Native American women. Arguing that the Lumbee Indians were "still a very traditional male-oriented culture," Woods explains that she embraced feminism because it gave her an outlet for her frustration with various kinds of social equality. (Woods's reference to herself as a "turtle" here refers back to her earlier description of her admiration for turtles and their symbolic resilience.)

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Ruth Dial Woods, June 12, 1992. Interview L-0078. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

LAURA MOORE:
I was wondering. This is also off the track, but to go back a little bit, I was thinking about your activities as a feminist. I was wondering if you felt like that was unusual for Indians or for Lumbees in particular or did you have a lot of support in the community for those activities?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
No no no no no no. Women aren't supposed to do those kinds of things. Women are supposed to let the man walk first and the man's supposed to make the decisions and all that kind of stuff. It's still a very traditional male oriented culture with the exception of a few that have broke the gate.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
So you were one of the few Lumbee women that would have been involved in these statewide ERA.
LAURA MOORE:
Why do you think that you got involved with them if that was sort of a hard thing?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Because I was a turtle. And it was my way of coping and seeking the acceptance, the support. It was running away from the problems at hand. That was my outlet to cope with my frustrations.