1. What roles do Indigenous women play within the family? Do these roles change with further contact with Europeans? What strategies are used by these women to attempt to maintain their independence and power?
In the films Ikwe and Mistress Madeleine, the European family roles were similar in comparison to the Indigenous family. In both families, the women were responsible for preparing food, having children and then taking care of them. In both family environments the women are expected to do as told by their male counterparts. In the film Ikwe, I found that Ikwe tried to keep her culture and independence when entering the European environment. She built her own house, despite her husband’s ridicule, as it did not fit with the European lifestyle. When she did not approve of her husband sending away her child without her consent, she decided to leave with her children and went back to her roots (her biological family). This was her way of trying to maintain power and responsibility over her children and her life.
The lack of respect given to the indigenous women in the European families is the main difference between the two family structures. Within indigenous families, everyone lived together and respected each other. In European families, the indigenous women were not consulted on family decisions regarding their children. In Mistress Madeleine, Madeleine is not respected when her “husband” brings back a legal European wife. Madeleine maintains her independence when her