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Feminism

As a first nation woman, I find feminism a mixture in my life. I mean I value my culture and it has helped me heal and is a daily guide in my life. Yet I also am glad I learn about feminism. My problem is trying to explain to others what it is? A way of life? A philosophy? And does it or will it clash with my cultural ways? With such a diverse theory, I am unsure what one I am using? not the extreme, some where in the middle. I like the idea of caring - it fits my culture. "Political is personal" fits our history yet with all our issues - abuse, addictions, residential schools, big daddy Department of Indian and Northern Affairs - where does it fit? and what one? (new, old, extreme, etc?)

 

Reading your question made me realize that some of the first feminists I met were indigenous women -- Lisa Tiger, Wilma Mankiller, Rebecca Adamson-- and I have met many others as I have been lucky to travel internationally on a project focused on indigenous peoples. Because of this unique experience, I have never experienced feminism as not being embracing of different or traditional cultures, but rather saw many of these cultures and certainly these women as symbolic of some of what feminism could be. I think the difference might be that each of these indigenous women are working on specific issues like economic development, HIV/AIDS, preserving Art and Culture, education, and adoption. These wouldn't immediately be perceived as feminist issues -- yet they are and these individual feminists are prioritizing them as feminist issues. I think the confusion comes from trying to fit one definition of feminism. In truth there are so many ways to be a feminist -- and so many issues that are feminist issues -- we can't live by the mainstream exceptions. Feminism isn't about dividing yourself from your culture, but merging the two and when there is conflict, for instance, with men dominating cultural ceremonies, trying to figure out how to reverse that trend.

Amy

 

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