Based on the reading “Gender and Cultural Diversity in the Early Contact Period”, it can be understood that this article reinforces the point that gender relations vary from one culture to another. This article describes the cultures of both the colonizers (French and English) and the Indigenous cultures the colonizers encountered. Throughout the text, it can be seen that the power exercised by Aboriginal women within their families was unfamiliar and disturbing to the French missionaries since they function based on a patriarchal religious and family system that rested on the God-given authority of men, rather than the Aboriginal societies that function based on the matriarchal system. Therefore, this is one of the main differences between these two communities. One believes that women should take the main decisions, whereas others think men should take the man’s decisions.
Among the largest group, Mi’kmaq, which were semi-nomadic, the contributions of both sexes were valued equally. The tasks of men were linked to the supply of raw materials. They hunted, fished and trapped. They were also responsible for politics and waging war when required. Women hunted small game and collected wild fruits, in addition to looking after the youngest children. When the men returned to the camp with resources, the women took care of their transformation. They prepared the meat to preserve it, tanned the skins and made clothes. Major leaders tended to be male, but women’s opinions on important decisions affected the group were sought and always respected.
Among the Iroquoians, tasks far from the village were reserved for men. They went hunting, fishing, and trapping, but were also involved in the war, trade, and politics. Decision making requires a larger Confederacy Council among various tribal councils, all of which were made of men; but those men were chosen by the senior women. Women had considerable status and authority. They also transformed the resources brought back by men. In addition to making the clothes and tanning the hides, they had to prepare the food so that it would keep as long as possible. Iroquoians societies were both matrilineal and matrilocal. Women also exercised considerable power in the longhouses, where decisions about its distribution among community members were made by women.
It’s quite clear that men’s and women’s roles are complementary and equally essential in the Aboriginal societies in North America. Unfortunately, our society is not only suffering from social class inequalities but also from gender inequalities being very present.For example, a man and a woman could do the same prestigious job and yet the man will get paid more. I truly believe that women are harmed by gender inequality and putting and respecting both genders at the same level and give both equal powers could be one of the things we could learn from indigenous tribes.