Before the arrival of the Europeans, the Indigenous culture were mainly matriarchal societies. When their population continued to grow, they started to develop certain political systems and social hierarchies that were mainly consisted of men, however, those men were almost always chosen by the senior women depending on certain indigenous groups. Essentially, both men and women were seen as equivalent and were both respected for their physical and mental abilities. Nobody was discriminated based on their skills and everyone had their own responsibilities and roles in society. For instance, men were seen as the hunters, the protectors and the chiefs of the community, while women also had fairly high authority and status and were equally taking into consideration.
European and Indigenous cultures are quite different in many aspects including, politics, economics, gender roles, etc. Back in the days, when France and England colonized the indigenous lands they started to make changes in their world views and forced the indigenous community to adopt a new mindset politically, economically and gender role wise. In the western culture, masculinity is greatly admired while, femininity is portrayed as weak and naive. For the french European newcomers, implementing their own patriarchal Christian cultures were based on a mindset were women back in their countries would have no say in an important decision making situation and were expected to play their “women role” in society which was cooking, cleaning and taking care of the children. Fundamentally, both the french and the english colonized the aboriginals and enforced a new regime where women were treated as inferior.
Moreover, the westernized culture is still quite similar today, not as severe as before. However, their are definite injustices between men and women in society. For instance, many of the political leaders of the country are men and most of the people in leadership positions whether its economically or politically tends to usually be men. One aspect that struck me in the Indigenous community is that it was mainly matriarchal, it is something quite surprising and to some extent refreshing to hear since we are so caught up in a world run by men that we tend to easily disconnect from our feminine energies at times. In the indigenous community, they treasured both male and female and regarded them as equivalent to society.
By: Vanessa. K