Thesis Women Roles

Thesis Women Roles-38
The role of the Clan Mother is frequently cited as an example of a powerful political role, central to the Haudenosaunee Six Nations confederacy.While many Nations had male chiefs, in some societies such as the Haudeonsaunee, women selected the Chief and were also able to take his power away.

The role of the Clan Mother is frequently cited as an example of a powerful political role, central to the Haudenosaunee Six Nations confederacy.While many Nations had male chiefs, in some societies such as the Haudeonsaunee, women selected the Chief and were also able to take his power away.

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The power and agency of Aboriginal women were invisible to them. Donaldson provides another telling example of Eurocentric mischaracterization.

She describes the Cherokee role of The Ghigau sat in council meetings with both the peace and war chiefs, decided the fate of war captives, prepared the purgative Black Drink at the centre of many Cherokee ceremonies, and led the women’s council.

Many First Nations were matrilineal, meaning that descent – wealth, power, and inheritance — were passed down through the mother.

Historians and scholars have emphasized the various capacities in which women were able to hold positions of power and leadership in their community. Udel, for example, explains that motherhood was honoured and revered as key to the thriving of the culture, and was not always strictly defined by its biological role, but was understood as a position of leadership and responsibility for caring for and nurturing others.

European settlers imposed their own frameworks of understanding onto Aboriginal social systems, which had particular ramifications for Aboriginal women. Emberley describes, settlers made sense of Aboriginal societies by viewing them through a European, patriarchal lens, assuming that Victorian principles represented the natural order of things.

For instance, many settlers held onto Victorian beliefs that women were delicate and ill-equipped for hard labour, and thus viewed Aboriginal women who worked the land as proof that Aboriginal men treated women as inferior, for they were doing the men’s work.By outlining these early histories of gender relations we aim to give the reader a sense of how initial colonial assumptions resulted in the drastic alteration of women’s influence and social systems in a relatively short time.These impacts continue to be felt by Aboriginal women across Canada today.Thus developed the Indian Princess/Squaw dichotomy, or, what Rayna Green terms “the Pocahontas perplex,” placing Aboriginal women into a restrictive binary based on European patriarchal values.If a woman could not be virtuous by strict Victorian standards, which, as Green points out was nearly impossible, she was deemed unworthy of respect.Indian agents had the power to act as justices of the peace or magistrates, giving them legal authority to monitor and control their Indian charges.Any sexual relations that did not conform to monogamy in marriage were seen as un-civilized and counter to the government’s civilizing mission.Men had always respected that spiritual and mental strength and women respected the men’s physical strength.There was always a balance between men and women as each had their own responsibilities as a man and as a woman.These concepts were written right into the Indian Act, with certain rights afforded to men and women of “good moral character,” as determined by the Indian agent.The Indian agent became, therefore, a sort of sexual policing agent.

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