History of Racist and Gendered Perceptions of Indigenous Women

The following provides a brief historical overview of the construction of Indigenous women as morally inferior individuals on the basis of their race and gender (for a list of sources used, please consult bibliography in "additional notes"): Legitimizing the presence of the colonial state is an ongoing process, requiring the manufacturing, maintenance and transmogrification of narratives that reinforce hierarchies of race, gender and sexuality and that also reflect shifts in national and international socio-economic and political climates.

Living Conditions on La Ronge Reserve

In the interview included in "relevant resources" below, participant Liora Salter reports that she observed that the living and social conditions on the reserve in centre of the La Range townsite were extremely deteriorated. Ms. Salter describes the lack of infrastructure on the reserve for basic utilities including sewer, electricity and water provisions. She notes that the houses on-reserve were "the oldest generation of Indian Affairs houses" with one room and newspaper serving as wallpaper. Incidentally, Ms.

Metis Community at Batoche

The settlement at Batoche was a manifestation of the impact of the 1870 Red River Resistance - not only were Metis families being crowded out by the influx of white settlers in Manitoba, but they were also experiencing repeated government delays in procuring their land following ongoing amendments to the Manitoba Act. As a result, many traveled further west. There was continued unrest in the Batoche area as the Metis were not assured that their land rights or long and narrow river lots would be recognized in deeds of fee simple ownership.

Government Attempts to Assimilate Indigenous Women

According to many DIA publications, Indigenous women were believed to be at fault for the conditions and poor health on reserves. This led the agents to believe that Indigenous women needed to be 'domesticated' in ways that served the colonial government and motives. Girls were not taught any skills that would be of value to them outside of the home. Schools focused on teaching Indigenous girls how to be successful housewives.

Government Control of Indigenous women

In the first half of the twentieth century, the Department of Indian Affairs (DIA) had its agents exercising extreme control and surveillance over Indigenous women and their personal lives. It was a priority for the DIA and its agents to uphold the Euro-Christian ideals of marriage, and as a result they believed surveillance over Indigenous marriages was an effective way to ensure that relationships remained moral. DIA agents were known to withhold payments to Indigenous women if they believed they were not acting in a way that was consistent with European marital norms.

Anti-Polygamy Laws Imposed by the Federal Government

With the emergence of settler society, many of the social norms of Indigenous groups became seen as morally corrupt, or deviant. The idea of polygamous marriages was foreign to European settlers and it was a stark contrast to the Christian marital norms and the English common law tradition of monogamy. Government officials took it upon themselves to discourage the practice of polygamy and eventually entrenched it into the law in 1890.

Indian Act

Bill C-3, also known as the Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act, developed as a response to the McIvor v. Canada decision in British Columbia which found that some of the current registration provisions of the Indian Act were in violation of section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms based on gender. The purpose of Bill C-3 was to expand registration to the grandchildren of women who had lost their status as a result of marriage to a non-Indian. To be eligible for status under Bill C-3, three criteria need to be met: ------------------------- "1.

Indian Act

Bill C-31, otherwise known as An Act to Amend the Indian Act, resulted because of persistent activism on the part of Indigenous women who recognized and opposed the inherent gender bias within the Indian Act. This amendment reinstated status to Indigenous women, and their children, who had previously had their status revoked by the pre-1985 Indian Act due to marriage to a non-Indian.