Assimilation Tactics: Indigenous Women, the Politics of Birth, and the Colonization of Bodies on the Canadian Prairies During the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries
Colonialism is a highly gendered process whose effects are disproportionately felt by women, and within the context of the settler state of Canada, by Indigenous women. The imposition of Euro-Canadian gender norms upon Indigenous Peoples by the settler Canadian government was driven by an explicit goal of assimilation. Consequently, Indigenous women have had their important positions within their communities as matriarchs, elders, midwives, healers, and other positions of significance undermined. While there are numerous dimensions to the Canadian government’s attempt to force Indigenous women into subservient gender roles, this paper is a historical analysis that focuses on the government’s attempt to exert control over the bodies and sexuality of Indigenous women, alongside restrictions placed upon Indigenous women that limited their ability to pursue midwifery following the introduction of the Indian Act in 1876.
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