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“Patriarchal Colonialism” and Indigenism: Implications for Native Feminist Spirituality and Native Womanism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 March 2020


This essay begins with a Native American women's perspective on Early Feminism which came about as a result of Euroamerican patriarchy in U. S. society. It is followed by the myth of “tribalism,” regarding the language and laws of V. S. coh’ nialism imposed upon Native American peoples and their respective cultures. This colonialism is well documented in Federal Indian law and public policy by the U. S. government, which includes the state as well as federal level. The paper proceeds to compare and contrast these Native American women's experiences with pre-patriarchal and pre-colonialist times, in what can be conceptualized as “indigenous kinship” in traditional communalism; today, these Native American societies are called “tribal nations” in contrast to the Supreme Court Marshall Decision (The Cherokee Cases, 1831–1882) which labeled them “domestic dependent nations.” This history up to the present state of affairs as it affects Native American women is contextualized as “patriarchal colonialism” and biocolonialism in genome research of indigenous peoples, since these marginalized women have had to contend with both hegemonies resulting in a sexualized and racialized mindset. The conclusion makes a statement on Native American women and Indigensim, both in theory and practice, which includes a native Feminist Spirituality in a transnational movement in these globalizing times. The term Indigensim is conceptualized in a postcolonialist context, as well as a perspective on Ecofeminism to challenge what can be called a “trickle down patriarchy” that marks male dominance in tribal politics. A final statement calls for “Native Womanism” in the context of sacred kinship traditions that gave women respect and authority in matrilineal descendency and matrifocal decision making for traditional gender egalitarianism.

Indigenous Women in the Americas
Copyright © 2003 by Hypatia, Inc.

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