Janet Spector's What This Awl Means

Words: 1365
Pages: 6

“When I wrote about Archaeological sites and objects…I felt no connection to the past, my own, or the people whose cultural landscape I had unearthed…What was life like for people in the past?” (Spector1). Janet Spector addresses this prevalent issue as well as many others in her book What This Awl Means which reveals the story of the Wahpeton Dakota villages past society with an emphasis on the roles of men and women. Spector tells a story in a way most archaeologist don’t by incorporating the voices/stories of Dakota natives, such as the tale of a young girl who loses are Awl, as well as providing meaning to archeological artifacts, sites and past cultures. Jane Spector’s idea on view on archaeological documentation differed from typical archaeological writings …show more content…
The awl was a significant tool in the life of a nineteenth century girl in the Wahpeton Dakota Village, but was often categorized by archaeologist as a tool used mainly to maintain and repair items. It was actually a tool used by young females on the path to adulthood in order to make holes in wood, mark objects or pierce through leather and cloths during stitching in the Native American culture. The awl was a way for women to account of their accomplishments. Competition was high among women in their communities, and their achievements were noted through the dots incised along the handles of the awl. The dots were usually colored either black, signifying tanned robe or the red representing the construction of ten hides or a tipi. The awl was gifted to young women who were secluded in a tipi with their mothers as the experienced menses. During this maturing process, the girls were taught the art of quill to show if she will be industrious to her family and community. The awl provided access to the life and accomplishment of the women in the Dakota village and signified their importance to the work done during pre historic