Indigenous Feminism: Colonial Complexities
By: Marlene E. McKay PhD
Indigenous Feminism: Colonial Complexities involves naming the ways that Indigenous women, with a focus on northern Saskatchewan, are caught up at every moment in ideas and beliefs about who we are; as much as we know differently, the power of these ideas continues to press on us in all kinds of large and subtle ways. The resistance to the power of these ideas and their impact on the lives of Indigenous women has a long history, but the racism continues. The book makes a contribution toward naming the power of racism and patriarchy within Indigenous communities.
ISBN: 978-1-926476-40-7 (Paperback)
Date: July 2020
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
My Theorizing and Approach
Construction of Aboriginal Women’s Identity Through the Effects of Christianity and Colonialism
What Do Aboriginal Women Describe as Oppressive in Relation to the Rules That Are Imposed on Them?
What Is Taken for Granted as Aboriginal Women’s Normative Identity?
What Are the Contradictions Between Rules and Norms Around How Aboriginal Women Make Themselves Subjects?
About the Author
Marlene E. McKay PhD
Marlene McKay, PhD was raised by strong Indigenous women within a Cree community in northeastern Saskatchewan. Cree is her first language. Christianity was, and still is, an influence in both the family and community. It is in this institution she came to realize that Christianity is a double edged sword. While it is a source of fellowship support, it is also an institution that imposes ideas of worthy and unworthy bodies.
For a number of years Marlene worked as a social worker, serving mostly single parent Indigenous women. It was while working as a social worker that Marlene learned about Indigenous traditions. However, the way in which men and women were positioned created a divide wherein men are given power and freedom while women have rules to follow. Although open to Indigenous customs, she soon realized the ways in which rules were communicated to Indigenous women often seem hostile. The plight of Indigenous women is not easily summed when the rules and societal norms imposed upon us are insidious. When we follow some rules, others are used to dismiss us.
Marlene entered the teaching profession after working as a social worker/counsellor for about 15 years. She has four earned university degrees. Marlene’s education focuses on Indigenous feminism, social justice, anti-racist education, and as a Cree speaker herself, she has a deep commitment to Aboriginal literacy. Her research was motivated by observing and experiencing marginalization, and she asserts that subjugation is influenced by identity categories of race, class status, gender. She further argues that one’s speech is also used to categorize people. Marlene has taught at the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Alberta. Marlene currently teaches within the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Regina.
Although Marlene returns to her home community regularly, she lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. She has a network of family and friends in the city and holds Saskatchewan as home. Marlene is a proud Cree speaking Indigenous feminist – it is a place she struggled to find.
McKay’s Indigenous Feminism: Colonial Complexities is a layered, methodical theoretical exploration of how the powerful forces and continually created discursive practises of colonialism, Christianity, the Indian Act and Indigenous knowledge systems influence single parent, northern Saskatchewan Indigenous women’s identities and relationships in complex and sometimes contradictory ways. The women’s visions of a better future anchor their decision-making as they swim against and through the overwhelming systemic legacy of oppressive forces running through their lives and that sometimes jeopardize their relationships.
Rita Bouviersemi- retired Metis educator and poet
Originally from Île-à-la-Crosse in northern Saskatchewan
Indigenous Feminism: Colonial Complexities insightfully maps the workings of power through influential discourses related to settler colonial governmentality, religion, patriarchy, and (heteronormative) sexuality. It provides an important contribution to studies that explore the impact of historical legacies on the present for Indigenous women, in North America and beyond.
Nell Haynes, PhDFaculty Fellow, Anthropology
Foucauldian analysis reveals the lives of Aboriginal women of northern Saskatchewan are subject to inescapable surveillance via the rules of Indigenous Knowledge systems, colonial discourses, Christianity’s good/bad binary and the patriarchy of the Indian Act attributing to their inferiorization as normal.
Anna-Leah King, PhDAssociate Professor
Chair of Indigenization Faculty of Education
University of Regina
With deft use of multiple theoretical tools, McKay analyses with surgical precision the multiple oppressions that shape the lives of Indigenous women in northern Saskatchewan.
Dianne Miller, PhDProfessor Emerita
College of Education
University of Saskatchewan
McKay provides an authentic voice to the complex identities of Indigenous women in northern Saskatchewan and successfully challenges society’s essentialist propensities through a post-structuralist lens.
Noella Steinhauer, PhDAssociate Chair - Undergraduate Studies
Department of Educational Policy Studies
Faculty of Education