Sexism Shift

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“The men from Boston went to our Longhouse People and said, “Send out your leaders.” Since these were matrilineal societies, the old women went out. The white men said, “No, no, we want your leaders.” So then the old men went out. “No, no, no we want your leaders,” they said again. … And they sent out the young men. So right from the beginning, whites imposed on us methods of choosing our representatives; our traditional way of identifying leaders had to be set aside to accommodate the sexism of white people”

– Ramona Bennet – Puyallup (The Puyallup Tribe Rose from the Ashes)

More and more we are reclaiming the balance of our women within our communities but there is still a lot of work to be done. The European models of governance and emphasis on the “dominate male” really took us for a spin.

I heard another Indigenous female say, “I’m glad for the feminist movement because we gained so much through that. The right to vote, rights, and so on. I mean when you look at some First Nations they treat their women like property.”

I just about choked on the air I was breathing and a sense of sorrow struck my heart.

It was never meant to be like that.

We, not just Indigenous women but women of colour and lower socioeconomic classes, have always been separate from the early feminist movements. The rights that were won in the 1920’s were leaps and bounds for upper class white women. I have a hard time identifying with it, but maybe that’s just me.

What the woman said about women being viewed as property was either:

A) a European influenced view of the traditional role women and men fulfilled.


B) a view on First Nations beliefs/treatment of women after European contact.

Everyone’s viewpoint is valid, because it’s valid for them at that given time. So she, as well as many other women, have experienced or witnessed “A First Nations woman as property”.

F*cked up.

I want to pull the focus in on leadership and use this point to get the ol’ wheels cranking a bit. Yup. Thinking. They say that thing resting on top of your neck is not just a  hat rack, or in this case a head-dress holder, hokah hey!

1. What do you think Indigenous Leadership looked like for your tribe prior to contact?

If you know nothing about that for your tribe, then envision, imagine, make sh*t up but make it up within reason or start a conversation with someone who might know. Cook up some bannock, bust out the jam and have a tea party with some elders.

2. What does Indigenous Leadership look like to you?

3. Who can be a leader?

4. How can you be a leader within your own family? Community?

These are just simple questions to get you to redefine leadership roles. To question the one’s that we have in place.

Another question, why do we need to accept the forms of leadership we already have? Is it working for our communities? Would something else work better? Who makes the rules and what’s in it for them?

Stop accepting everything for face value and think that nothing can be done. We are the sleeping giant, the prophecied generation to start changing things around for our people. You should even ask, who the hell is this chick writing the blog anyway? Well… check out the ABOUT ME page! hah. No but serious, do it and share this blog with your friends.

If you don’t like questions then ….. get off this blog. Click the lil’ red square in the corner and carry on your journey but know that these questions need to be raised or the one’s who hold the answers will never be held accountable.


In Spirit,

Helen K

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