INDIGENOUS FEMINISMS: A SUMMARY

Summary: Resistance and Resilience

In addition to challenging the Indian Act, which institutionalized patriarchy in their communities, Indigeous women have been at the forefront of contemporary movements to protect Indigenous land from resource extraction projects that threaten Indigenous ways of life.  For example, Idle No More is a movement started by four women, Nina Wilson, Sylvia McAdam, Jessica Gordon & Sheelah McLean, to protect Indigenous land and water from environmental degradation and resource extraction. Indigenous matriarchs are leaders in projects to restore spiritual and legal relationships to land among Indigenous youth, and protect land from extractive projects that they argue harm the environment and Indigenous ways of life. In February 2020, the RCMP invaded sovereign Wet’suwet’en territory and arrested Indigenous matriarchs who were protecting their land from the development of the Coastal GasLink pipeline and trying to preserve the Unist’ot’en healing centre, which offers land-based therapy for those healing from addictions and trauma. In a powerful photo essay for The Narwhal, Amber Bracken documents the RCMP’s arrests of Indigenous matriarchs and photographs Coastal GasLink workers dismantling a memorial to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. This is a stunning representation of the settler-colonial state’s violation of Indigenous women’s consent over land and bodies for the purposes of the accumulation of capital and resources. Indigenous feminists argue that because settler-colonialism is a system that violates Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people, and creates gender power imbalances in Indigenous communities, decolonization requires a gender analysis and resistance to settler-colonial patriarchal structures and gender binaries. Decolonization, Indigenous feminists argue, involves respect for Indigenous women’s consent over land, meaning an end to extractive projects without their consent. Decolonization also involves the return of unceded land taken by the settler-colonial nation-state illegally and respect for agreements made in treaties. Indigenous feminists are a powerful force in decolonization efforts. 

Test Yourself

Discussion Questions

Identify a quotation from one of the assigned resources that sparked your thinking — a “lightbulb” moment, so to speak. First, write approximately 100 words about your “lightbulb” moment. Second, explain why this was a “lightbulb” moment for you. Third, explain why you’d like to learn more about this. Respond to one of your group member’s posts, building upon their ideas or raising a new question for your colleague to consider.

Remember that your discussion board posts are always due the Tuesday the week following a new module. You must complete at least one Big Idea Challenge before 12 October. Remember to post any questions you have on eClass, email your instructor or TA, or book an office hours appointment if you need to discuss any aspect of the course or your assignments.

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