Blog 03: Gender diversity in the Early Contact Period

Indigenous culture there was no such thing as gender. It was an egalitarian society. In many Indigenous cultures the women had important powers. They were the one who made decisions in their household. In addition, gender was not divided because both men and women could become shamans in the culture of the Innu of Northern Quebec and Southern Labrador. Furthermore, when Europeans came in their land, they were surprised to see that women are high in the hierarchy because “gender relations vary from one culture vary to another”. Men and women roles were equally divided, and they were both essential to ensure their survival. In other words, their labour work was divided so that their family or tribe could survive and eat. Moreover, people who are two spirited (masculinity and femininity are in one body) could marry individual from the same sex.

The Indigenous cultures had many differences during colonialism, but now they are coming to be similar. In contemporary Western culture, the notion of gender is slowly being eliminated. In Canada, people are trying to eliminate it and bringing egalitarian ideas like the First Nations. However, there is still a long way to go because women are not totally equal to men. For example, in some jobs, women are not paid as same as men. In addition, another similarity is that Western culture legally accepts the LGBTQ+ community, however they are still some cases where they get discriminated. Furthermore, both Indigenous cultures and contemporary Western culture have sexual autonomy which means that they can have sexual relationships before marriage, chose their spouse and divorce which are all common now. One thing that is different is that women are less included are less included in politics. In the United States most of the ministers are men and the women are minority. In indigenous culture women are allowed to be shamans which is highly respected in their society. In brief, Western culture are becoming similar to Indigenous cultures as the years go by, however there is still some struggle trying to normalize it.

What struck me the most about the Indigenous culture is that they are matrilocal and matrilineal seen in Iroquoian culture. I did not know that it was common for them that a man has to live his house when he marries a woman. I am so used to seeing that the bride moves in with her husband when they get married. Today it happens, but it is not common even in Western culture. In conclusion, we can learn from the Indigenous culture is that in order to live together and peacefully equality must not be absent. Men are just as important in society and in the household as women. In their culture there is no discrimination against people based on their gender. Moreover, gender equality eliminates stereotypical ideologies that Western people have in their minds.

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