What they don't teach in school or show on TV...
The lineal descent of the People of the Five Nations shall run in the female line. Women shall be considered Progenitors of the Nation. They shall own the land and the soil. Men and women shall follow the status of their mothers." -- Law of the Iroquois Confederation (in present-day New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Ontario)
"They are born, live and die in a liberty without restraint; they do not know what is meant by bridle or bit." -- Jesuit Paul LeJeune on the Innu/Naskapi/Montagnais people of eastern Canada, 1636
"Women were not formerly immured in houses and dependent on husbands and relatives. They used to go about freely, enjoying themselves as they pleased best." ---Pandu in the Mahabharata, India
"Descendance from the woman, descendance from the woman is ended. But descendence from the woman is better than sterility, and sterility is better than an evil child." -- Duga, the oldest recorded epic in West Africa
"Sir, this matter does not concern men." -- Igbo women to British officials, during the Aba rebellion ("Women's War") of 1929, eastern Nigeria.
"My little daughter, yours is the battle! How shall we act for you? Here are your revered mothers, but indeed yours is the task... You are the Eagle Woman, go to the encounter!" -- Aztec birth chant
"I have come from the school of medicine at Heliopolis, and have studied at the women's school at Sais where the divine mothers have taught me how to cure diseases." --inscription at Sais, city of the goddess Neit, Egypt
"Our lady Libussa governed this kingdom while she was alive. Why should not I now govern with your help? I know all her secrets; the skill in spells and the art of augury which were her sister Tecka's are mine; I also know as much medicine as Brelum did; for I was not in her service for nothing. If you will join with me and help me I believe we may get complete control over the men." --Vlasta, leader of Czech amazon rebellion, 8th century
"In Nepal I brought a dead man back to life... My body journeyed like a rainbow in celestial fields." --Yeshe Tsogyel, in the 8th c. Tibetan poem Lady of the Lotus Born
"Now, son of man, set your face against the daughters of your people who prophesy out of their own imagination." -- Ezekiel 11:17
The illustrious Talmudic scholar Beruriah satirized patriarchal theologians when the traveller Reb Jose the Galilean asked her, "By what road do we go to Lydda?" She replied, "Foolish Galilean, did not the sages say thus: 'Engage not in much talk with women'? You should have asked, "By which to Lydda?" Palestine, 2nd century CE
"I am a lioness, and will never consent to let / My body be the stopping place for anyone / But should I choose that / I would not hearken to a dog / And how many lions have I turned down..." --poet Aisha bint Ahmad, Spain, circa 975
"Among the Cheyennes, the women have great influence... They are, in fact, the final authority in the camp. There are traditions of woman chiefs and women who possess remarkable mysterious powers or have shown great wisdom in counsel." --George Bird Grinnel, early 20th century
"As an Indian woman I was free. I owned my home, my person, the work of my own hands, and my children should never forget me. I was better as an Indian woman than under the white law." --Unnamed North American woman to U.S. ethnographer Alice Fletcher, 19th century
"If you the men of Ashanti will not go forward, then we will. I shall call upon my fellow women. We will fight the white men. We will fight until the last of us falls in the battlefield." - - Yaa Asaantewa, queen of Ghana
"Arauco has a sorrow / Which I cannot silence / The injustices of centuries / That everyone sees inflicted / No one has remedied them / Though they could be remedied / Rise up, Huenchullán!" -- Violeta Parra, Chile
"The women began to gather from adjoining houses until the Amazons were about equal to the [slave-catchers]-- the former with shovels,tongs, washboards and rolling pins; the latter with revolvers, sword-canes and bowie-knives. Finally the beseigers decamped, leaving the Amazons in possession of the field, amid the jeers and loud huzzahs of the crowd." --from the North Star, African-American newspaper, Cincinnati,Ohio, August 1848
"Until liberty is attained-- the broadest, the deepest, the highest liberty for all-- not one set alone, one clique alone, but for men and women, black and white, Irish, Germans, Americans, and Negroes, there can be no permanent peace." -- Matilda Joslyn Gage, New York, 1862
"Something which should have happened did not happen. Something which should have been retained was forgotten. The attic of images was ransacked, the souvenir box pillaged, annihilated. Nothing remains but so-they-say, but whatever-will-they-say; nothing remains but tiny waves, shock waves, shimmerings of a single patch of memory, nothing but this patch, glittering without glory. Nothing remains but the monstrous amnesia of women, this congenital absence of the organ of remembrance...we should seek the source of the blindness and inconsolability of so many women living new memories upon an ancient canvas of indestructible suffering."
-- Louky Bersianik, "Agenesias of the Old World" (translated from the French by Miranda Hay and Lise Weil) Full article at Trivia online
English wives offered oats to an apocryphal saint so she would send a horse to ride their abusive husbands to the devil: "... women call her saynt Uncumber because they reken that for a pecke of otys she wyll not fayle to uncomber them of theyr housbondys." --Thomas More
"Companions of the Womb--our bitterness! Companions of the Womb, our bitter bitterness, like yellow wormwood bitterness! A thousand pounds is the weight of oppression, difficult to feel at ease!... I desire that [women] be leaders, awakened lions, advance messengers of learning and intelligence, that they may serve as rafts crossing cloudy ferries, as lamps in dark chambers. That they may let shine, from the center of women's realm in our country, bright light resplendent, glittering rare in the beauty of its color, that on the whole earth globe, they startle the hearts, seize the eyes of men, causing all to applaud, rejoice." -- Qiu Zhin, founder of a woman's newspaper in China, executed for sedition against the Manchu dynasty in 1917.
"A woman is nothing in our community. You aren't able to answer men or speak in front of them whether you are right or wrong. That has to change. Women have to demand rights, and then respect will come. But if you remain silent, no one thinks you have anything to say. Then again, I was not popular for what I was saying." --Rebecca Lolosoli, founder of the women's village Umoja, Kenya, which offers women refuge from abuse and forced marriages.
"Without a husband / I shall live happily / Without a man / I shall live proudly / Among mother's relatives / I shall live enjoyably / Without children / I shall live on / Without a family / I shall live lovingly / Pursuing my own youth / I shall live as a guest." --Deyangku song of Nishan Shaman, Manchuria
In pre-gay liberation days, the lesbian bar Mona's on Broadway in San Francisco bore the slogan, "Where girls will be boys."
"We, the women of Nambukelevu / Adorn ourselves with black ceremonial skirts / We assume an attitude of reverence / We paint ourselves with intricate markings / We disguise ourselves thus, Baunindalithe / That we may look upon you, O great one." --Chant of Fijian women to summon the Mother of Sea Turtles
There was present a Finnish sorceress who was set on a high and splendid seat, and to her each man went in turn to question her as to his fate. --Vatnsdaelasaga, medieval Iceland
"Sacred place where the goddess Tökisy put her hand at the beginning / Sacred place where the god Kwate.n placed pebble counters at the beginning / Sacred place where she ruled all the people of the To.rthas moiety / Sacred place where she ruled all the people of the Töwfily moiety / ... Sacred place where she separated and gave the sacred names of clans and buffaloes / Sacred place where she separated and gave the buffaloes / Sacred place where she divided and gave the sacred places / Sacred place where she divided and gave the gods...." --Mod Fartyt chant of the Toda, Nilgiri Hills, southwest India
"Trust in Isis. She is more effective than millions of soldiers." --Cleopatra I, Egypt