Colonialism and First Nations Women in Canada

1772 Words Nov 11th, 2005 8 Pages
PART I: The Authors Voice In the article Colonialism and First Nations Women in Canada by Winona Stevenson, the author explains the struggle First Nations women had keeping their culture alive. Upon arriving in America the Europeans suffocated the natives with their rationalisation of female subjugation. Reluctant to give up their traditions and honour the native-American women put up a fight, but their efforts would not be strong enough to triumph over the European missionaries. Stevenson chronologically explains their contact with the ‘colonial agencies'. The fur traders were shocked by the nature of the Native women. They were used to fragile, dormant women while the Aboriginal women were tough and carried a lot of qualities they …show more content…
She focuses on how women's rights were removed and backs that information with proof: "Women were totally excluded from voting… [,]…their right to divorce were violated in the 1876 Indian Act. [And it] also undermined female authority by denying them the right to participate in decisions concerning the disposition of reserve lands," (Stevenson, 1999, 71-3). These arguments strongly back up her proposal, which makes her statements very hard to disagree with.
The subject of the repression of women is constant throughout her material and unarguably very convincing. The native women were robbed of their identity and that is hard to argue, but Stevenson seems to imply that European way of life was completely incorrect. This part of her argument seems a little biased. Although the Europeans obviously did not have the superior society or ideology for women but they did have a few good concepts to improve the form of society, such as a structured government.
Stevenson argues that First Nations women were categorized into two stereotypes; the "Indian Princess, a Pocahontas type who was virginal, naturally innocent… [and] … the Squaw Durdge, who lived the most unfortunate, brutal life…" (1999, p57). This argument is hard to prove because it is a very subjective statement, it is difficult to know for certain what most of the individuals of that time thought and/or felt of the Native women. Stevenson tries to prove this case well, but leaves some statements unsupported. She stated
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