Women are Discriminated Against within Politics in Indigenous Communities Because of their Gender

Darlene N Horseman
The purpose of this study was to prove that women are discriminated against within politics in Indigenous Communities because of their gender. It will demonstrate how the Cree people historically were once an egalitarian society. Even though women were not often seen in leadership roles, such as chiefs, leaders of hunting or war parties, they still had important roles to play in their societies. This study set out to prove how colonial legislation had a big influence on changing the
more » ... g and thinking for many Native groups including, but not limited to the Cree people of Canada. It will demonstrate how the Cree people would no longer be an egalitarian society, but now be forced to live in a patriarchal society created by the Canadian government. This thesis will prove that Cree women had important roles in their societies using the following theories/methodologies:  Storytelling -Oral history and Interviews  Indigenous Feminism  Literature Review These methodologies and theories were chosen, as they best reflected the philosophies of the Cree people in the Treaty 8 area. In this study, three individual members of Horse Lake First Nation were interviewed to demonstrate how many Aboriginal men have taken on and accepted the western views of the colonizer. Many carry out those views by disempowering the women in their communities. Some of them have the idea that women should not be in positions of power and they belong in the household looking after domestic duties. Missionaries and Residential Schools aided in teaching male dominance to the Native people in Canada. They were given the mandate by the federal government to train female students to become submissive to male authority. Past Literature written about Aboriginal women reveals and confirms the discrimination they experienced. Even at the Supreme Court of Canada level, Aboriginal women were deemed savages. In conclusion, this study shows how discrimination women continue to face on their reserves resulted from colonial legislation, government restrictions and mandates. It shows how women, even today, continue to be discriminated against. Yes, the laws have changed to eliminate gender discrimination, but now they face it within their own communities, by their own people. Women continue to be devalued and struggle to be treated as equals. Women have never been elected as chief and continue to be disrespected in positions of management. ii PREFACE After running for Chief in my reserve, I discovered that our community had not entirely recovered from the patriarchal society that was created for us by colonization, missionaries, and government laws. This realization made me question whether or not our people, the Cree people, were always of this mindset. Were the Cree People historically a patriarchal society and if not, what changed their way of thinking? This is when I decided to write my thesis surrounding the discrimination women face on their reserves when dealing with politics. Growing up with the women in my life, such as my mother, grandmother and greatgrandmother, I had difficulty believing that our women were always submissive. My mother in her youth was a woman who chose not to give up her independence. She would be involved in many relationships throughout her life; however, rejected marrying any of the men that asked her for her hand in marriage. My mother usually left men that became too controlling, but one man managed to keep her under his control for a time long enough to have two daughters with him. This man was controlling and abusive but fortunately after a few years she left him. This is when I decided, I would never allow any man to control or hit me. Next, my grandmother always demonstrated great authority in her home and never had any difficulty standing up for herself or her children, regardless of the situation. In fact, she never hesitated to tell her common-law husband what to do. Finally, my great-grandmother was also a strong independent woman who proved she needed no one to get things done. Even whilst in her seventies, she displayed great leadership and strength. She was always telling everyone around her what to do. I admired her for her strength and resilience in continuing to practice the Cree culture, even when the Priests in the iii area were trying to teach her otherwise. In the summer months, my great-grandmother spent a majority of her time outdoors making dry meat or tanning hides. She did this until she fell ill and ended up in the hospital well into her eighties. I discovered while researching my thesis that the Cree people were once an egalitarian society, but would conform to the Canadian/British ideals. Our community, even though laws have changed to eliminate gender discrimination, continues to support the idea of male dominance. This proved true while I was running for chief in our band elections. Comments were often made about women having no business running for chief, as men made better leaders. They would also say that women were not strong enough to be leaders in our community.
doi:10.7939/r3wh2dv01 fatcat:e7qypqsckfh2joalbiy5jegkei