UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

The indian voice : centering women in the gendered politics of indigenous nationalism in BC, 1969-1984 Barkaskas, Patricia Miranda 2009

Your browser doesn't seem to have a PDF viewer, please download the PDF to view this item.

Item Metadata

Download

Media
24-ubc_2009_fall_barkaskas_patricia.pdf [ 411.91kB ]
Metadata
JSON: 24-1.0067761.json
JSON-LD: 24-1.0067761-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): 24-1.0067761-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: 24-1.0067761-rdf.json
Turtle: 24-1.0067761-turtle.txt
N-Triples: 24-1.0067761-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: 24-1.0067761-source.json
Full Text
24-1.0067761-fulltext.txt
Citation
24-1.0067761.ris

Full Text

THE INDIAN VOICE – CENTERING WOMEN IN THE GENDERED POLITICS OF INDIGENOUS NATIONALISM IN BC, 1969-1984 by PATRICIA MIRANDA BARKASKAS B.A., University of Victoria, 2005  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in  THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES  (History)  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver) October 2009 © Patricia Miranda Barkaskas, 2009  Abstract “The Indian Voice – Centering Women in the Gendered Politics of Indigenous Nationalism in BC, 1969-1984” reveals how tensions about gender represented in The Indian Voice newspaper centre on two interrelated sets of issues. First, gender is framed as the main issue at the heart of divergent views of “community” within the larger Indigenous political project in the period. The Voice depicted the BC Indian Homemakers Association, and its members, as rooted in and entitled to speak on behalf of communities. This orientation contrasts with its presentation of male-dominated groups. It regularly portrayed male leaders as neglectful and largely indifferent to local concerns. The second gendered issue to emerge in The Indian Voice in these years is the relationship between Indian Status and Indigenous citizenship. In particular, it situates women’s access to Indigenous identity under the Indian Act at the centre of the gender issues it highlights. The Voice identified the leadership of BCIHA as champions of women’s issues in the province, particularly on this front. They claimed to speak for women (and children) excluded from “Indianness” by the Indian Act and challenged those who accepted its definitions. This paper explores how BC’s Native women used The Indian Voice in three parts. The first section of this paper provides an overview of the relevant scholarship on decolonial feminist approaches and Aboriginal perspectives on feminist analysis as it applies to Native women’s activism. It describes the relevance of feminist perspectives that are fundamental to the analytical framework of this project. The second section introduces the BCIHA and situates the organization in the larger context of the Aboriginal rights movement in BC. Finally, the gendered tensions emerging in the Voice at the intersections of community and citizenship are explored.  ii  Table of Contents Abstract ..................................................................................................................................ii Table of Contents..................................................................................................................iii Acknowledgments .................................................................................................................iv Dedication ..............................................................................................................................v I. Introduction: The Indian Voice and the Gendered Politics of Indigenous Nationalism ..1 II. Centering Women in Native Politics and Nationalism ....................................................5 III. The BC Indian Homemakers Association and The Indian Voice................................. 10 IV. Grassroots Organizing, Gendered Politics, and the “Status”-Quo.............................. 17 V. Conclusions...................................................................................................................... 39 Bibliography......................................................................................................................... 42  iii  Acknowledgments I would like to acknowledge the support and contributions of my supervisors, Dr. Paige Raibmon and Dr. Veronica Strong-Boag. I would also like to thank Dr. Tamara Myers for her critique of this paper in its final stages. Many thanks go out to my friends and colleagues who read this paper at various stages along the way: Ashley Dryburgh; Chelsea Horton; Steve Chasey; and Timothy Benton Roark. I am so grateful to all those who believed in me through this process. Without your enduring friendship and support and this would not have been possible. Thank you especially to: my family; Timothy Benton Roark and family; Ashley Dryburgh; Jessica Wood; Chelsea Horton; Sally Mennill; Carly Teillet; Sarah Wolfman-Robichaud; and Danielle MetcalfeChenail. This research was greatly facilitated by financial support from a CGS Master’s Scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Special thanks to the Aboriginal Womens’ Centre Society for opening up their collection to me, to the Union of BC Indian Chiefs for the use of their resource centre, and Kim Lawson.  iv  Dedication  To my family… especially Taize.  v  I. Introduction: The Indian Voice and the Gendered Politics of Indigenous Nationalism1 …Native feminisms do not just intervene in the sexism in Native organizing or the racism and colonialism in feminist movements; they also challenge the framework of liberation itself by recasting how we understand nation, sovereignty, and nationalist struggle. In doing so, Native feminisms reshape the manner in which we might build movements and coalitions for social change.2 In 1969, the “Statement of the Government of Canada on Indian Policy” was released.3 The document, now infamously known as the White Paper, proposed the abolition of the Indian Act. Indigenous response to this proposal was swift and reflected Indigenous political revitalization. Resistance to the federal government plan united political groups, communities, and individuals across Canada and generated extensive agitation. In British Columbia the first provincial Indigenous women’s organization, the BC Indian Homemakers Association (BCIHA), stood on the front lines of the struggle. As one part of a larger campaign to communicate Indigenous  1. A note about language: The terms “First Nations,” “Indigenous,” “Native,” and “Aboriginal” will be used interchangeably throughout this paper. These terms (along with the terms “Métis,” “métis,” and “Non-Status Indians”) hold very specific political implications for individuals and groups and are articulated as concise definitions for the sake of theoretical, analytical, and legal purposes. I am not denying any of the aforementioned terms as valid or necessary independent categories, nor am I claiming authority on any of these definitions. What I am suggesting I s that “identity” is not primordial and that identities are fluid, dynamic, and not stable. Bonita Lawrence argues against the usefulness of creating static “identities” based on any or all of the aforementioned terms. Instead, she argues that what matters more are the social justice issues at stake in a racist, sexist, classed, and colonial society that continue to regard some individuals and groups as less-than-citizens. My use of these terms, interchangeably and often with the inclusion of Métis, métis, and Non-Status peoples within these, is a purposeful attempt to recognize the unstable and multiplicitous locations of Indigenous peoples in what is now Canada. I am not claiming that the experiences of Indigenous women are homogenous, though there is an intellectual and political history of Pan-Indigenous activism. For the sake of this study, “Native nationalism” will be defined as synonymous with contemporary understandings of “Indigenism.” Taiaiake Alfred states that “Indigenism brings together words, ideas, and symbols from different Indigenous cultures to serve as tools for those involved in asserting nationhood.” Peace, Power, Righteousness: An Indigenous Manifesto (Oxford University Press Canada, 1999), 88; and Bonita Lawrene, “Gender, Race, and the Regulation of Native Identity in Canada and the United States: An Overview,” Hypatia 18 (2) (Spring 2003): 3-31, 24-25. 2. Andrea Smith, Native Americans and the Christian Right: The Gendered Politics of Unlikely Alliances (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2008), 255. 3. Minister of Indian Affairs, Jean Chrétien’s, 1969 White Paper advocated the assimilation of Indigenous peoples as an expression of Pierre Trudeau’s vision of a pluralistic Canada. BCIHA, Seventh Annual Convention minutes, Wednesday, 20 May 1970, 11.  1  issues to the general public, the BCIHA established The Indian Voice newspaper in 1969.4 The official organ for the BCIHA, it provides unique insight into the gendered nature of Indigenous politics in BC from 1969-1984, a decade and a half when a new wave of Native nationalism put Indigenous issues once again on the Canadian federal agenda. As the only major Indigenous publication in BC representing a women’s organization, it communicated the complicated nature of gender politics in Canada’s First Nations communities in these years. The Indian Voice reveals how tensions about gender centre on two interrelated sets of issues. First, gender is framed as the main issue at the heart of divergent views of “community” within the larger Indigenous political project in the period.5 The Voice depicted the BCIHA, and its members, as rooted in and entitled to speak on behalf of communities. This orientation contrasts with its presentation of male-dominated groups. It regularly portrayed male leaders as neglectful and largely indifferent to local concerns. The second gendered issue to emerge in The Indian Voice in these years is the relationship between Indian Status and Indigenous citizenship. In particular, it situates women’s access to Indigenous identity under the Indian Act at the centre of the gender issues it highlights. The Voice identified the leadership of BCIHA as champions of women’s issues in the province, particularly on this front. They claimed to speak for women (and children) excluded from “Indianness” by the Indian Act and challenged those who accepted its definitions. Women who held prominent positions within the Association were depicted as defenders of disenfranchised women and children. Leaders like Elizabeth Rose Charlie, President of the BCIHA for 28 years, and Chief Mary Pious used the paper to express their 4. The Indian Voice was published from 1969-1984. In 1984 the publication’s run ended due to funding issues. 5. “Community” and “communities” in this context refers to understandings of local and regional collectives of individuals and/or groups who identify as belonging to a larger collective group; for example, a reserve community, band, clan, tribe, or Nation.  2  support for grassroots activism and women’s rights.6 In many cases, Voice articles featured female leaders commenting critically on Indigenous male leaders’ ideas about citizenship and gender. Taken as a whole, these interventions reveal how gender constituted a key point of contention in Aboriginal political discourse during the struggle for self-determination in Canada in the late 20th century. “The Indian Voice – Centering Women in the Gendered Politics of Indigenous Nationalism in BC, 1969-1984” examines how BC’s Native women used The Voice in three parts. The first section of this paper provides an overview of the relevant scholarship on decolonial feminist approaches and Aboriginal perspectives on feminist analysis as it applies to Native women’s activism. It describes the relevance of feminist perspectives that are fundamental to the analytical framework of this project. The second section introduces the BCIHA and situates the organization in the larger context of the Aboriginal rights movement in BC. Finally, the gendered debates emerging in the Voice at the intersections of community and citizenship are explored. The Indian Voice dubbed itself a public platform “For Better Communication” about issues affecting Indigenous communities and individuals. In reality it was much more than this. Feminist analyses that draw attention to the impact of the colonial project and locate Aboriginal women at the centre of their own histories demonstrate how gender emerged as a contentious issue in the Indigenous nationalist agenda. Voice articles were an important intervention into the dominant Native nationalist discourse about gender and claims to Indigenous identity in Canada from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. This perspective complements earlier scholarship. Historical work has been done on Aboriginal political movements in BC in this  6. Rose Charlie, “The history of Aboriginal women's activism and organizing in British Columbia and Experiences with and reflections of international Indigenous women's activisms,” (Talks, First Nations Longhouse, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, April 1 and 3, 2008); and Cathy Converse, Mainstays: Women Who Shaped BC, (Victoria: Hordsal and Shubert Publishers Ltd.), 171-173.  3  period, but such studies have not explicitly interrogated the gendered dynamics of these. For example, both Paul Tennant’s and Yale Belanger’s work on Aboriginal political activism in BC focus almost exclusively on male-dominated Aboriginal organizations.7 Most particularly political scientist Paul Tennant’s study illuminated the activities of male Aboriginal leadership in this period. Despite his reading of The Indian Voice, women and gender were conspicuous by their absence from his narrative. This paper addresses that omission. This study of the BCIHA is part of a largely unexplored history of Aboriginal women’s contributions to activism.  7. For further reading on Aboriginal women’s political activism see: Deidre A. Desmarais, “The Native Women’s Association of Canada’s Struggle to Secure Gender Equality Rights Within the Canadian Constitution,” MA Thesis, Political Science (Regina: University of Regina, March 1998); Heather Howard-Bobiwash, “Women’s Class Strategies as Activism in Native Community Building in Toronto, 1950-1975,” American Indian Quarterly Vol. 27. Nos. 3 and 4, Summer and Fall 2003, 566-582; Cora J. Voyageur, “They Called Her Chief: A Tribute to Fort MacKay’s Indomitable Leader, Dorothy McDonald,” in Unsettled Pasts: Reconceiving the West Through Women’s History, eds. Sarah Carter, et. al. (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2005), 355-361; and Gail Guthrie Valaskakis, et. al. Editors, Restoring the Balance: First Nations Women, Community, and Culture (Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2009).  4  II. Centering Women in Native Politics and Nationalism There has been debate, in both academic and activist circles, about the utility of feminist analysis in studying Native women’s history. Many Native women have sought to distance themselves from the individualist rights-based discourse of liberal feminists. Some feel that other, typically White middle-class feminists have ignored much Indigenous political work because so much of it happens at the community level.8 These feminists, and some Native women themselves, view native women’s activism as the work that Native women are expected to do instead of as feminist work.9 Andrea Smith argues that this is because Native women are  8. Some Indigenous women have commented that the assumption that their roles as women or concerns about gender inequalities in their communities is mutually exclusive from broader political struggles is fallacious: Kim Anderson, A Recognition of Being, 25-30; Kim Anderson and Bonita Lawrence, “For the Betterment of Our Nations,” 11-21; Jeanette Armstrong, “Invocation: The Real Power of Indigenous Women,” xii; Eva Marie Garroutte, Real Indians, 133-34; Paula Gunn-Allen, Off the Reservation, 29, 32-34, 47, 177; Lee Maracle, I Am Woman, 40-41; Devon Abbott Mihesuah, Indigenous American Women, 160-63; Patricia Monture-Angus, “Considering Colonialism and Oppression, 87; Grace Oulette, The Fourth World, 86-87; and Mary Ellen TurpelLaffond, “Patriarchy and Paternalism,” 76-78; and Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Decolonizing Methodologies, 151-52. 9. Kim Anderson, A Recognition of Being: Reconstruction Native Womanhood (Toronto: Sumach Press, 200), 25-30; Kim Anderson and Bonita Lawrence, “For the Betterment of Our Nations,” in Strong Women Stories: Native Vision and Community Survival, eds. Kim Anderson and Bonita Lawrence (Toronto: Sumach Press, 2003), 11-21; Jeanette Armstrong, “Invocation: The Real Power of Aboriginal Women,” in Women of the First Nations: Power, Wisdom, and Strength, eds. Christine Miller and Patricia Chuckryk (Winnipeg: The University of Manitoba Press, 1996), ix-2; Fay Blaney, “Backing Out of Hell,” in Bringing It Home, ed. Brenda Lee Brown, 19-33 (Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 1996), 26-28; Beth Brant, Writing as Witness: Essays and Talk (Toronto: Women’s Press, 1994), 81; Jo-Anne Fiske, “Political Status of Native Canadian Women: Contradictory Implications of Canadian State Policy,” in In the Days of Our Grandmothers: A Reader in Indigenous Women’s History in Canada, ed. Mary-Ellen Kelm and Lorna Townsend (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2006), 336366, 340-341; Eva Marie Garroutte, Real Indians: Identity and the Struggle of Native America (University of California Press, 2003), 127-34; Gunn-Allen, Off the Reservation, 29, 32-34, 47, 177; Lee Maracle, I Am Woman: A Native Perspective on Sociology and Feminism (Vancouver: Press Gang Publishers, 1996), 40-41; Devon Abott Mihesuah, Indigenous American Women, 160-63; Patricia Monture-Angus, “Considering Colonialism and Oppression: Aboriginal Women, Justice, and the ‘Theory’ of Decolonialization,” Native Studies Review 12 No. 1 (1999), 87; Grace Oulette, The Fourth World: An Indigenous Perspectives on Feminism and Aboriginal Women’s Activism (Halifax: Fernwood Publishing, 2002), 86-87; Andrea Smith, Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide (Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 2005),137-139; Andrea Smith, Native Americans and the Christian Right: The Gendered Politics of Unlikely Alliances (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2008); Veronica Strong-Boag, “Experts on Their Own Lives: E. Pauline Johnson and Native Women Writers,” (paper presented at the Conference of the Association for Canadian Studies in German-speaking Countries, Grainau, Germany, February 2004); Mary Ellen Turpel-Laffond, “Patriarchy and Paternalism,” 76-78; Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples (New York: Zed Books, 1999), 151-52; and Cora J. Voyageur, “The Community Owns You: Experiences of Female Chiefs in Canada,” in Out of the Ivory Tower: Feminist Research for Social Change, eds. Andrea Martinez and Meryn Stuart, 228-247 (Sumach Press, 2003), 228.  5  often more concerned with responsibilities than with rights while many feminists concentrate on a liberal individualist rights discourse.10 Native women’s activism in their communities, especially with regard to gender issues, has been fraught with tensions between past and present perceptions of femininity.11 In applying feminist analysis of gendered power dynamics to Aboriginal issues, Smith acknowledges the friction between Aboriginal women’s Native identity and their feminist politics. This does not mean that the two are mutually exclusive. Working for recognition of issues outside the dominant discourse of Native nationalism, women have often established an “unlikely alliance” between their Native identity and feminisms.12 Studying Native women’s activism in The Indian Voice, in the context of their ideas about gender, community, and citizenship, proves that they have created their own feminist politics, a politics built on praxis. Lina Suneri has argued that nationalism has been, and continues to be, a site of feminist resistance for Native women.13 She states, “Aboriginal women’s participation in the selfdetermination of First Nations can be seen as both an anti-colonial movement and a feminist one.”14 Smith and others have argued that Native women’s organizing is vital to First Nations’  10. Smith, Conquest, 137. 11. Smith states that Native women often form what can be described as an “unlikely alliance” between characterizations of themselves as “traditional” Native women and their changing or shifting notions of women’s power in the present. Further, Dawn Martin-Hill, discusses the impact of the notion of a disempowering and subjugating “traditional womanhood” on First Nations women. Martin-Hill rejects this notion stating “(t)he stereotype of She No Speaks is a construction born from the tapestry of our colonial landscape.” “Who is She No Speaks?” Martin-Hill asks her readers. “She is the woman who never questions male authority. She never reveals her experiences of being abused by the man who is up there on that stage, telling the world about the sacredness of women and the land.” Dawn Martin-Hill, “She No Speaks: and Other Colonial Constructs of ‘the Traditional Woman’,” in Strong Woman Stories: Native Vision and Community Survival, eds. Kim Anderson and Bonita Lawrence, 106-120, 108; and Andrea Smith, Native Americans and the Christian Right, 204. 12. Smith, Native Americans and the Christian Right, 118-132. 13. Lina Suneri, “Moving Beyond the Feminism Verses Nationalism Dichotomy,” 143-148. Suneri draws her understanding of “situated knowledge” from Patricia Hill-Collins, Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment, 2nd ed. (London and New York, Routledge, 2000). 14. Suneri, “Moving Beyond the Feminism Verses Nationalism Dichotomy,” 143.  6  struggles to assert their independence and is integral to understanding larger questions of social justice and sovereignty for Native peoples and communities.15 Applying a feminist lens to women’s activism is vital to understanding this history.16 Smith argues that “(r)ather than adopt a strategy of fighting for sovereignty first and improving Native women’s Status second, we must understand that attacks on Native women’s Status are themselves attacks on Native sovereignty.”17 To do so is to center Native women in their own histories. Rather than simply recognizing that these women were present and participating in historical events, focusing on their experiences acknowledges that their work was integral. Centering women’s experiences within Native nationalist struggles reveals that Native feminisms exist.18 Locating women’s involvement in Native nationalism in The Indian Voice positions their activism at the intersections of gender, identity, community, and citizenship. Feminist scholars have deconstructed colonial narratives of precisely such intersections. They describe how hegemonic power relations police men and women’s gender roles under colonial regimes and attempt to regulate their place within the nation.19 Tamar Mayer describes  15. Blaney, “Backing Out of Hell,” 26-28; Maracle, I Am Woman, 137-139; Mihesuah, Indigenous American Women, 6-7; Monture-Angus, Journeying Forward, 140; Smith, Native Americans and the Christian Right, 118-119; and Turpel-Laffond, “Patriarchy and Paternalism,” 64-78, and 70-71. 16. Smith, Conquest, 137. 17. Smith, Conquest, 138. 18. Mihesuah, Aboriginal American Women, 162-163; Smith, Native Americans and the Christian Right, xiv; and Suneri, “Moving Beyond the Feminism Verses Nationalism Dichotomy,” 143-148. Historian Devon Abbott Mihesuah points out that women utilize their power as women to help their communities. Suneri identifies her political and intellectual perspective as ‘situated” by her experience as a woman of “mixed AboriginalSouthern white European ancestry.” She draws her understanding of “situated knowledge” from Patricia HillCollins, Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. Drawing on Suneri’s observations, Mary Ellen Kelm and Lorna Townsend have identified the value of “situated knowledge” for historicizing Aboriginal women’s lives. “Situated knowledge,” means thinking “about the past that ‘stresses and validates the importance of lived experiences and… incorporates these experiences within theory.’” Further, they claim that presently, in their attempts to deal with the erasure of Aboriginal women from the past, “scholars are more inclined to address the ‘thirst for research,’ a desire expressed by Aboriginal women who seek unseeable pasts, affirming research that sees beyond social pathologies to strengths and solutions.” Mary-Ellen Kelm and Lorna Townsend, In the Days of Our Grandmothers, 4.  7  this link between colonialism and gendered nationalism: “Despite its rhetoric of equality for all who partake in the ‘national project,’ nation remains, like other feminized entities emphatically, historically, and globally – the property of men.”20 In Canada, eroding Aboriginal women’s power was, and continues to be, vital to the colonial project.21 The combined impact of male dominance of Native nationalist politics and the legal consequences of the Indian Act had dramatic consequences for Aboriginal women. Although Native nationalist discourse in the post-White Paper era brought to light Indigenous experiences of colonization and sought redress for historical injustices, sexism was largely ignored. Women’s issues and questions about identity and gender as related to community and citizenship were not part of the dominant discourse about self-determination.22 The Indian Voice provides a significant opportunity to centre Native women’s activism historically. It represents an important intervention into the history and dominant discourse about gender and Native nationalism. Investigating the gendered dynamics of citizenship and community as represented in the Voice serves to locate some Native women’s perspectives in  19. Tamar Mayer, Gender Ironies of Nationalism: Sexing the Nation, Introduction “Gender Ironies of Nationalism: Setting the Stage,” Ed. Tamar Mayer (Routledge, 2000), 1-22, 3. For further reading on the intersection of gender and nationalism see: Anne McClintock, Imperial Leather: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest (Routledge, 1995); Tamar Mayer, Gender Ironies of Nationalism: Sexing the Nation, Introduction “Gender Ironies of Nationalism: Setting the Stage,” and specifically in the Canadian context: Bonita Lawrence, “Rewriting Histories of the Land: Colonization and Aboriginal Resistance in Eastern Canada,” in Race, Place, and the Law: Unmapping a White Settler Society, ed. Sherene Razack (Toronto: Between the Lines, 2002), 21-46. 20. Mayer, “Gender Ironies of Nationalism,” 2. 21. Until the changes to the Indian Act in 1985 “Status” was defined by marriage based on a patrilineal system, this was implemented through clause 12 (1) (b) of the Indian Act. “Status” was conveyed to those who had originally been determined “Indian” through the Canadian state’s registration system in the act of creating ‘reserves’ and the numbered treaties: Shirley Bear with the Tobique Women’s Group, “You Can’t Change the Indian Act?” in Women and Social Change: Feminist Activism in Canada, ed. Jeri Wine and Janice Ristock (Halifax: James Lorimer, 1991), 198-220, 12; and Kathleen Jamieson, Indian Women in Canada and the Law: Citizens Minus (Ottawa: Minister of Supply and Services, 1978). 22. Blaney, “Backing Out of Hell,” 26-28; Maracle, I Am Woman, 137-139; Mihesuah, Indigenous American Women, 6-7; Monture-Angus, Journeying Forward, 140; Smith, Conquest, 137-138; Suneri, “Moving Beyond the Feminism Verses Nationalism Dichotomy,” 143-148; and Turpel-Laffond, “Patriarchy and Paternalism,” 64-78, and 70-71.  8  the larger project of Native nationalism. The Voice identified the British Columbia Indian Homemakers Association (BCIHA) and some of its leaders at the centre of the Native political arena. Close examination of the paper illuminates a perspective that is often challenging to evidence: Native women’s perceptions and active participation in political events.  9  III. The BC Indian Homemakers Association and The Indian Voice The BCIHA founded The Indian Voice in 1969. The paper’s moniker, “For Better Communication,” suggests that its founders intended the publication to be a public forum for discussion of Aboriginal issues broadly. However, in reality the paper acted more narrowly as the official organ for the British Columbia Homemakers Association. BCIHA leaders used the Voice to promote the Association and draw attention to issues that the organization’s governing parties were concerned about. At the paper’s inception, unidentified authors of articles in the paper painted the BCIHA as a humble, grassroots organization concerned with community activism.23 Indian Homemakers Clubs had originally operated as women’s groups on reserves.24 It was under the leadership of Mrs. Rose Charlie, of Sts'Ailes (Chehalis, BC), that the provincial Association was born. Charlie founded the provincial BCIHA in 1968 and was the first President of the Homemakers. She would remain so for 28 successive years. Charlie saw more potential in the  23. In many cases author credits were missing from many of the articles that appeared in The Indian Voice. However, credit is issued to several writers (some of whom may also be the same writers with different names) such as Kitty Bell, Kathleen Bell-Younger, Donna Doss, Kitty Sparrow, and a few others. Unfortunately, specific identifying information about these authors is not in BCIHA records. Further research, including oral history, on the BCIHA may lead to new evidence about who these women were and which communities they came from. Some of these women are acknowledged as members of the Editorial Board throughout the paper’s run and/or appear in meeting minutes. Where possible, authorship and the identity of specific individuals appearing in the paper has been provided and acknowledged. “Kitty Bell” may also be “Kitty Bell Sparrow” who identifies herself as a correspondent for the Voice for 25 years and married John Sparrow, photographer for the Voice and member of the Musqueum Nation. “What Kevin Annett has done to Harriet Nahanee,” http://mytwobeadsworth.com/HarriettNahanee31207.html, Accessed 3 September 2009. “Kathleen Bell Younger” may be “Kitty Bell Sparrow’s” daughter. Again, “Kitty Bell Sparrow” is identified as a Voice reporter. The People’s Paths Home Page, “The Leonard Peltier Case,” http://www.yvwiiusdinvnohii.net/LeonardPeltier/LPDCCanada.htm, Accessed 3 September 2009. 24. BCIHA, Seventh Annual Convention minutes, Wednesday, 20 May 1970; Charlie, “The history of Aboriginal women's activism and organizing in British Columbia,” 2008; Mary John and Bridget Moran, Stoney Creek Woman: the Story of Mary John (Vancouver: Tillicum Library, 1988), 125; and Don Whiteside, “Efforts to Develop Indigenous Political Associations in Canada,” 90; and “Kli-Sli Arts and Crafts,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 6. No. 6. April 1974, 6 and 7. According to a 1974 report on Indigenous political organizations in Canada, the Homemakers clubs were officially formed in 1954. However, Mary John was active in a Homemakers club active in the Saik'uz community in the 1940s. John does not describe the Homemakers in the Saik'uz community as a political group. She compares the Homemakers and the Elders’ Society in the community, referring to the later as political. John described the Homemakers club as women’s clubs: “the purpose was to make us better wives and mothers.”  10  women’s clubs than just teaching women domestic skills. 25 Charlie wanted Aboriginal women to improve their individual circumstances while advancing their communities’ needs in negotiations with the Canadian state and band, tribal, and/or political leaders.26 Club membership was heterogeneous, consisting of Indigenous women who belonged to communities from all over British Columbia composed of members from a diverse representation of reserve and urban Native communities.27 The first years the BCIHA operated as an official organization they implemented their strategy for social justice mostly at the community level.28 Events like the 1969 “Moccasin Walk,” to raise funds in support of an all Chiefs’ meeting, indicate that the Homemakers Association desired to carve a place out for itself in Aboriginal politics in BC. The Voice reported that the BCIHA along with the major, male-dominated political organizations at the time, notably the North American Indian Brotherhood and the Southern Vancouver Island Tribal Federation, recognized the need for a united political body to respond to the 1969 Federal White Paper policy and to pursue the issue of land settlement in BC. Indigenous leaders from across BC formed the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) at the 1969 All Chiefs’ Conference.29 BC Chiefs created the Union as a collective response to Canada’s 1969 White Paper proposal.30 Reflecting on the event in 1982, a Voice editorial described how, BCIHA Rose Charlie, was invited to represent the women’s group at 25. Cathy Converse, Mainstays: Women Who Shaped BC (Victoria: Hordsal and Shubert Publishers Ltd., 1998), 170; and Charlie, “The history of Aboriginal women's activism and organizing in British Columbia,” 2008. 26. Charlie, “The history of Aboriginal women's activism and organizing in British Columbia,” 2008. 27. For example: BCIHA, Seventh Annual Convention, May 1970. 28. Charlie, “The history of Aboriginal women's activism and organizing in British Columbia,” 2008; and Converse, Mainstays, 170. 29. “Moccasin Miles,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 2, No. 1, January 1970, 11; UBCIC, “A Declaration of Indian Rights: The BC Indian Position Paper,” November 17, 1969, 1. 30. BCIHA, Seventh Annual Convention minutes, Wednesday, 20 May 1970.  11  the first All Chiefs Conference and she later recollected being one of the few women invited to attend.31 The Indian Voice often portrayed Charlie and other BCIHA members at the centre of BC Aboriginal nationalist politics. Utilizing the publication, the Association characterized itself and its leadership as an advocate for change at the grassroots level while simultaneously positioning the BCIHA within the larger project of pan-Indigenous nationalism as a champion of women’s rights. This effort at self-promotion became a theme for the Voice as its articles cast the BCIHA as a major player and an organization with a unique vision or approach to Aboriginal issues. At the 1971 IHA Convention, Sophie Thomas, Chief of the Stoney Creek Band, requested that the Association approach the First Nations Citizen Fund board for the money to conduct a feasibility study on employment. In her words the people of Stoney Creek “want(ed) employment not welfare.”32 At the same convention Mrs. Edna Rose, District Vice-President for the Homemakers Association for the Yukon Territory, criticized DIA-funded training programs that stressed job training for positions that were useless. She pointed out that hairdressing courses, one of the few courses available to women, were redundant because there were so many hairdressers in the district that few people could find employment. The DIA’s training program dictated that Aboriginal women were only capable of working in fields linked to domestic labour. The paper challenged such sexist and racist assumptions underlying the government’s programs. Further, Rose apparently stressed that training should meet the needs of people listing examples such as “…arts and crafts; wild life management; forestry training, pilot training; oil orientation courses; …business administration… and the need for Indian court  31. Charlie, “The history of Aboriginal women's activism and organizing in British Columbia,” 2008; and Editorial, The Indian Voice, Vol. 14, No. 5/6. May/June 1982, 4. 32. “We Want Employment Not Welfare,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 3. No. 6. June 1971, 4.  12  workers to provide proper representation for Indian people facing court charges.”33 Training that did not meet communities’ real needs wasted time and money. Voice reports often attempted to prove that the government had no idea what was “good” for Native women and communities. The BCIHA used The Indian Voice, in part at least, to push the mandate laid out in their constitution established in 1972. This outlines five major goals: (a) To assist Indian women to acquire sound and approved practices for greater home efficiency. (b) To help the aged and less fortunate, and improve living conditions on the Reserve. (c) To discover, train, and stimulate leadership. (d) To sponsor and actively assist all worthwhile projects for the betterment of the community and to aid and promote Indian Arts and Handicrafts. (e) To develop better, happier, and more useful citizens.34 The goals highlighted the connections between gender, community, and citizenship.35 The Homemakers believed improving women’s lives, even if only their domestic roles, had a positive impact on communities. The creation of “better, happier, and more useful citizens” and “leadership” went hand-in-hand with contributing to the larger community. Women’s contributions and dedication to their communities also buttressed their demands for Status. According to the Voice, the Homemakers quest to secure funding was an ongoing struggle due to their community-based approach to politics. The BCIHA applied for funding for The Indian Voice and their grass roots efforts through the First Citizen’s Fund, but were denied in spring 1971 because their activism was qualified as social welfare work and, as such, they would have to apply directly to the Federal government for funding.36 Apparently, it was due to  33. “Training Courses Go Nowhere,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 3. No. 6. June 1971, 4. 34. BCIHA, “Constitution,” 30 June 1972, 1. 35. BCIHA, “Constitution,” 30 June 1972, 1. 36. “Campbell Tells Homemakers ‘Go to Federal Government,’” The Indian Voice, Vol. 3. No. 3. March 1971, 3.  13  such setbacks that an informal meeting was scheduled with the Deputy Minister, J.B. Bergevan. A March 1971 story detailed the Homemakers’ request for financial aid. BCIHA Executive Director, Evelyn Paul, played a recording of a man talking about his and his children’s horrible living conditions on the Mt. Currie reserve, where the suicide rate was very high. According to the story, when Bergevan asked what solutions the IHA recommended, “he was told that the solution must come from the Indian people” and that “the first step would have to come from the mothers who would instill pride and confidence in their children and a general interest in the community.”37 This statement linked women, and their position as mothers, directly to their commitment to community. Voice stories usually presented women as fulfilling an important role in specific contexts and then linked these scenarios to broader contexts or Indigenous issues.38 Voice articles attempted to establish that the Homemakers were deeply concerned with “the community.” The newspaper points to various strategies the Homemakers used to draw distinctions between their organization and other, male-fronted political groups. For example, Voice articles alluded to the BCIHA’s inability to secure core funding as reflecting the organization’s dedication to advocacy and suggested that no government money made the Association better able to protect Native interests. In 1972 the BCIHA did not receive funding while the UBCIC was granted core funding and awards were also made to the BC Association of Non-Status Indians (BCANSI). The Minister in charge of funding explained that core funding was denied to the Homemakers because he claimed the association was a legal entity. The Homemakers responded that the Secretary of State, Department of Indian Affairs, and UBCIC did not define the BCIHA as such. The BCIHA looked to the Union for support, but instead the UBCIC accused them of not supporting the Union based on articles about the issue 37. “Homemakers Ask Deputy Minister for Help,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 3. No. 3. March 1971, 8. 38. “Homemakers Ask Deputy Minister for Help,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 3. No. 3. March 1971, 8.  14  published in the Voice. The UBCIC stated, “their response (the Homemakers) to our core funding has been one demoralizing bureaucratic buckpassing experience.”39 The BCIHA continued to seek core funding for their operational costs by appealing to the newly elected New Democratic Party government for help.40 In a statement to Association delegates at the 1972 Conference Rose Charlie explained how the organization defined its value, again connecting women’s issues to larger “community” and Native concerns: We need and are going to approach the NDP for a $42 000 Core-funding for our organization. As a “Mother” organization, we’ve gotten right down to the ‘grass roots’ people. We know their problems because we live them on a day-to-day basis. The mothers and grandmothers have to live on the reserves. They are the ones who have to put up with all the problems and live the poverty, seeing their children and elders getting sick from the poor water systems and inadequate housing. Therefore, with this in mind, I would like to see a full administration for the IHA.41 The NDP did not grant the organization core funding. Tensions about funding were not the only ones that would continue to build between the BCIHA, male Indigenous leaders, and maledominated organizations. This pattern would continue through the Voice’s run as the Homemakers sought on many occasions to distinguish themselves from male-led political organizations. Simultaneously, the BCIHA pursued a political agenda in support of Native sovereignty. Examples of the Homemakers commitment to Native nationalism were published regularly. Accounts of their involvement in challenges to provincial and federal legislation and policy were typical. In June 1970 The Indian Voice reported that Charlie, along with Evelyn Paul, Executive Director, had attempted to trick Pierre Trudeau into signing a concealed copy of the  39. “Homemakers Association Given Funding Cold Shoulder,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 4. No. 8. August 1972, 1. 40. “IHA Seek Core Funding From NDP,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 4. No. 9. September 1972, 1 and 2. 41. “IHA Seek Core Funding From NDP,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 4. No. 9. September 1972, 1 and 2, 2.  15  Red Paper.42 The account paints the women as gutsy and not intimidated by such a powerful man.43 Later that same summer, an article reveals that Charlie, and Evelyn Paul, travelled to Ottawa along with delegates from other organizations to officially present the Red Paper to the Prime Minister.44 Leaders of the BCIHA, especially Charlie, were often reported at the front lines of the political struggle of Native people and often specifically on behalf of Native women. Accounts show them displaying consistent strength of character and unwavering determination.45 Proving that the women of the IHA were concurrently committed to Native liberation and addressing issues faced specifically by Native women seemed to be a goal. Through the 1970s The Indian Voice chronicled the BCIHA’s endeavours to draw connections between their grassroots, community-focused activism, Native women’s rights and Indigenous citizenship. Throughout this period Voice articles positioned the BC Indian Homemakers Association, its core membership, and Native women as defenders of notions about community and women’s rights to Native citizenship.  42. The Red Paper was a document drawn up by BC Indigenous leaders outlining their perspectives on Indigenous claims and sovereignty in response to the federal governments 1969 White Paper Policy. “Trudeau Will Give BC Back to Indians,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 2. No. 6. June 1970, 9. 43. “Trudeau Will Give BC Back to Indians,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 2. No. 6. June 1970, 9. 44. “Mrs. Rose Charlie and delegates present Red Paper to Trudeau in Ottawa,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 2. No. 7. July 1970, 1. 45. For example: Kitty Sparrow, “The Family Unit is the Foundation of Indian Culture Says Charlie,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 12. No. 6 June 1980, 3; Kitty Sparrow, “IHA Challenge Provincial Jurisdiction to Apprehend Native Children,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 13. No. 5. May 1981, 1-2; and Kathleen Bell-Younger, “IHA President Flays Indian Leadership,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 13. No. 5. May 1981, 9.  16  IV. Grassroots Organizing, Gendered Politics, and the “Status”-Quo Articles in The Indian Voice place women at the heart of the Native nationalist agenda and attempt to convey that self-determination was linked to women’s commitment to their communities and their struggle for citizenship in the period.46 Voice articles evoked images of the Homemakers as grassroots organizers addressing women’s issues at the community level. Illuminating moments in which the Homemakers intervened on behalf of people, and implying that such mediation was necessary, helped to create an image of a group that was committed to addressing the needs of Native people on-the-ground. For example, a Voice article and BCIHA documents describe instances of Homemakers Club members taking neglected children into their own homes during periods of crisis, helping social welfare recipients with their paper work every month, and providing support when the local social workers could not be reached.47 The Indian Voice represented the Association as stepping in when other reserve community leaders would not – especially in situations where the problems at hand could be best described as “social welfare” issues. Connected to this grassroots or community level approach to political activism, The Indian Voice presented the Indian Homemakers Association as having a complicated and sometimes strained relationship with Indigenous male leaders, male-dominated organizations, and the paternalism of the Canadian government. As early as 1971, commentary in the Voice called attention to members of the UBCIC who reportedly expressed negative feelings toward the IHA. For example, a Voice writer claimed that spokesmen for the Union had been heard stating that other political organizations were unnecessary. In particular, Chief Bernard Charles 46. Editorial, The Indian Voice, Vol. 14, No. 5/6. May/June 1982, 4. 47. “Editorial: Brief from the Mount Currie Homemakers Club,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 3. No. 4/5. April/May 1971, 4; BCIHA, Seventh Annual Convention minutes, Wednesday, 20 May 1970; and 1980-1983 and Child Apprehension boxes, British Columbia Indian Homemakers’ Association Collection, Aboriginal Mothers’ Centre Society (AMCS), Vancouver, BC.  17  was quoted as saying: “There is absolutely no reason for the Homemakers to exist!”48 Contrary to this sentiment, the leaders who did support the IHA were perceived as seeing it as complementing the Union. Chief Forrest Walkem, from Spences Bridge, reportedly stated: There must be great numbers of people behind these organizations and we have no business to tell them to disband. In all societies people belong to different organizations… I know of at least three women chiefs who belong to the Homemakers and who are also members of our Union… If the ladies want to voice their opinions, I think we should let them do so.49 Chief James Scotchman, from Lillooet, also received attention after saying: “Every man’s organization in most parts of the world has a woman’s auxiliary organization… I think the Homemakers should be an auxiliary to the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.”50 Male support went hand-in-hand with a tone of benevolent tolerance for the women’s organization. The Voice presented only a few members of men’s political groups as standing in outright opposition to the BCIHA. In June, it highlighted concerns about these members of the UBCIC. The story indicates that it was staff members of the Union who were causing trouble and Chief John George went so far as to specifically accuse young, educated men hired to work at the UBCIC of wanting to set up a dictatorship. Apparently, it was these men who were causing problems and airing discontent about the BCIHA’s involvement in Native politics.51 George’s comments suggested that young Native men, educated in White universities, did not retain respect for women while older male leaders did respect the “traditional” power of women. However, it was also a clever deflection that hints at adhering to “traditional” gender roles without acknowledging how these may have been influenced by colonialism.  48. “Indian Organizations Criticized,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 3. No. 6. June 1971, 1 and 2, 1. 49. “Indian Organizations Criticized,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 3. No. 6. June 1971, 1 and 2, 2. 50. “Indian Organizations Criticized,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 3. No. 6. June 1971, 1 and 2, 2. 51. “‘Chief John George Flays UBCIC ‘Hired Help,’” The Indian Voice, Vol. 3. No. 6. June 1971, 1 and 8.  18  Despite Voice reports in the summer of 1971, more overt discussion about gender and citizenship between male-dominated organizations and the Homemakers overshadowed perceived support from some male leaders. These discussions started to emerge in the publication at the same time as challenges to the Indian Act’s section 12 (1) (b) were headed to the Federal Court of Appeal. The assimilation of Aboriginal people in Canada by eliminating matrilineal descent was enshrined in the Indian Act’s clause 12 (1) (b).52 In it, women’s and children’s access to on-reserve resources, homes on reserves, and citizenship and legal Indian identity were defined as dependent on women’s sexual association or marriage to Status Indian men.53 The Canadian state conferred the power to pass on Indian Status to Native men alone. The imposed patrilineal descent regime enshrined in the Act stole legal Indian identity from generations of women and their children. The public debate about these issues as represented in The Indian Voice suggests that the legal and political struggle of Aboriginal women to reclaim and remain citizens and pass citizenship on to their children was an issue that the BCIHA responded to very differently than some male leaders and other political organizations. Many events recorded in 1971 indicate that members of the BCIHA had begun to participate in larger scale women’s political work. Evidently, Rose Charlie decided that meeting other women who were interested in political change and organizing was a necessity and the BCIHA Executive became directly involved in Indigenous women’s organizing across Canada.54 One of the first initiatives for organizing nationally to appear in the Voice was the first-ever National Native Women’s Conference in March 1971. Held March 22 and 23 in Edmonton, Alberta and organized by the Alberta Native Women’s Society, the conference was 52. Shirley Bear with the Tobique Women’s Group, “You Can’t Change the Indian Act?” in 12; and Jamieson, Indian Women in Canada and the Law. 53. Fiske, “Political Status of Native Canadian Women,” 336-366, 340-341. 54. Charlie, “The history of Aboriginal women's activism and organizing in British Columbia,” 2008; and Converse, Mainstays, 171-173.  19  held to raise awareness about gender power imbalances in Indigenous communities. The Voice reported that delegates at the meeting were outspoken about their desire for changes in the roles of Aboriginal women. Printed statements conveyed dissatisfaction with the status quo. In particular, one delegate reportedly stated: “We have always walked a step behind the men as helpmates and mothers. It is time we took a step forward.”55 The paper described the women delegates expressing a desire for immediate action. Further, it was reported that they preferred full revision of the law or at least recognition of them as Indians by other treaty Indians. Stressing the need for stronger representation of women in both Native organizations and band councils, the story detailed that delegates demanded immediate action on family violence, child neglect, lack of opportunity, unemployment, and child apprehensions. Women delegates cited concerns about how substance abuse affected women and children as related to these issues.56 The message seemed to be that self-determination meant little so long as women and children were being denied their rights on the ground. Both the Native Women’s Association of Canada and Indian Rights for Indian Women emerged from this initial meeting of Native women from across Canada. The Voice claimed that by the end of the event, 160 delegates were selected to organize a committee to study establishing a national Indigenous women’s association. The committee members were to go out into their districts and consult women and, if women felt there should be an organization, the committee would take steps to form one. Robert Stanbury, federal minister for citizenship, opened the conference. He praised organizers, supporting the idea that Indigenous people must supply answers to their own problems and listed the issue of women and children losing Status through marriage as an example. The Voice article also highlighted the significance of the  55. “Alberta Hosts First National Native Women’s Conference,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 3. No. 6. June 1971, 6 and 12, 6. 56. “Alberta Hosts First National Native Women’s Conference,” The Indian Voice, 6.  20  decision that women of all ancestry would be welcome, a provision that only the Alberta Native Communications Society allowed until then. This more inclusive approach to Aboriginal identity was celebrated in the piece.57 The issue of Native women’s rights featured prominently in nationalist debates as recorded in the Voice.58 The 1971 Federal Court of Canada ruling that Native women could not be deprived of rights as Indians upon marrying non-Indian men was reported as a huge success for Native women in the October issue of the Voice.59 In the same issue, an article entitled “Indians Ask Chrétien to Appeal Ruling on Women” stated that representatives of Native organizations in Ontario, speaking on behalf of about 20, 000 people, wanted the Supreme Court of Canada to overrule a Federal Court of Canada decision allowing Indian women who marry non-Indians to retain their Indian Status. The ruling was appealed.60 Voice columnist, Donna Doss, interviewed George Manuel, National Chief of the National Indian Brotherhood, for The Indian Voice in November of that year. He expressed his opinions about non-Status women and changes to the Indian Act, saying that the “decision should be in the hands of the people themselves” and suggested that communities, not band councils should be able to determine the citizenry of their people, even if this meant that eventually one hundred percent of bloodlines were non-Indian.61 The author claimed that Manuel’s perspective on access to Indian Status was based on fears that women would take their share of money away from  57. “Alberta Hosts First National Native Women’s Conference,” The Indian Voice, 6 and 12. 58. “Alberta Hosts First National Native Women’s Conference,” The Indian Voice, 6 and 12. 59. “Mixed Marriage: Woman Keeps Status as Indian (Toronto (CP))” The Indian Voice, Vol. 3. No. 10. October 1971, 8. 60. “Indians ask Chrétien to appeal ruling on women (Canadian Press, Brantford, Ont.),” The Indian Voice, Vol. 3. No. 10. October 1971, 8. This decision was appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada. See: Attorney General of Canada v. Lavell, [1974] S.C.R. 1349. 61. Donna Doss, “George Manuel Airs His Views On Non-Status Women,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 3. No. 11. November 1971, 7 and 9, 7.  21  communities while trying to live off reserve, and then fail in mainstream society, returning to the reserve with nothing. While Doss pointed out that this was a legitimate concern, the underlying critique of this point of view is evident. First, that women would continue to leave their reserves implied that non-Native men marrying into Native communities was not a consideration (the notion of Native women being able to pass on Status to their non-Native partners was never raised).62 Second, the author problematized the idea that Native women who left reserves would ultimately “fail.” Such perspectives ignored the fact that women had lived off reserve successfully or, for many reasons, returned and were accepted back into to their reserve communities.63 Doss drew attention to perceptions of Indigenous women as less Indian through their association with non-Native men and decisions to live in urban environments. Such perceptions did not seem to apply to men. Another article dealing with the 1971 Federal Court case considered whether Native men’s fears influenced their support of the ruling. The author wondered if Indian Bands were “worried this will encourage Indian women to marry non-Indian men. This, they believe, could lead to an increasing number of white men on Indian reservations and the gradual assimilation of the Indian race through intermarriage.”64 The article does not address the previous rates of intermarriage or the real versus perceived impact of such intermarriages. The writer did suggest that white men living on reserves threatened Native men. Given fears of assimilation such a threat could be viewed as very serious. However, fear of assimilation only seemed to focus on white men marrying Native women and not intermarriages between Native men and white 62 . The Indian Act ensured Native men and their children had been the only legitimate heirs to status. Non-Native women who married status Indian men legally became status Indians while Native women who married non-Native men, or the children of such unions, had been stripped of their Indian identity for over a century. 63. Doss, “George Manuel Airs His Views On Non-Status Women,” 9. 64. “Canada’s Top Court to Hear First Sex Discrimination Case,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 3. No. 11. November 1971, 10.  22  women. Other Voice reports also reveal the complicated workings of power and gender as demonstrated by the reactions of male leaders and other Native organizations to challenges to the Indian Act. In his column “Tyee-Wa-Wa ‘The Chief Speaks,’” Chief John L. George charged that the Status issue was the same old “divide and rule” tactic of colonization and pointed out Aboriginal people were really in the best position to “decide Status and draw up policy in this regard, and definitely not a white men’s court.”65 However, he also had some advice for Indigenous women: You must remember that marriage is not just for today or tomorrow but for life. It would be a disgrace if you return in a manner contrary to the traditions of your people… Watch where you are going. Mixed marriages at times, do not work out as well as you want. There will be the problem concerning your children…. You are not subjected to accept what is being said, but in taking the step you so desire, you are expected to accept the consequences.66 That there were consequences for women and not for men when it came to marriage was an issue that was also discussed by Don Whiteside (Sin A Paw). He saw the Lavell case and the issue of Status as an opportunity to “return traditional judicial authority of the Tribal or Band Council.”67 Directly connecting the issues of gender, Status, identity, and nationalism he argued that because of its discrimination of women, ultimately First Nations developed a dependency on the Indian Act as a means “to protect Indian lands from white men…”68 It is possible that, outside of the notion of imported colonial patriarchy, Status being conferred only to White women was not an issue for Aboriginal men for two reasons. The first was that due to gendered power dynamics White women themselves were not considered a threat. The second reason,  65. Chief John L. George, “Tyee-Wa-Wa ‘The Chief Speaks,’” The Indian Voice, Vol. 4. No. 7. July 1972, 3 and 4, 4. 66. Chief George, “Tyee-Wa-Wa ‘The Chief Speaks,’” 4. 67. Don Whiteside (Sin A Paw), “Review of the Lavell Case: Another Indian Tragedy or An Opportunity for the Possible Return to the Traditional Judicial Authority of the Tribal and Band Council,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 4. No. 1. January 1973, 5. 68. Whiteside (Sin A Paw), “Review of the Lavell Case,” 5.  23  inextricably linked to the first, was that Native men’s power would be challenged by the introduction of White men into First Nations communities. The fact that the Indian Act granted Status to non-Native women upon marriage to Indian men was not widely discussed in the Voice. For example, columnists discussed the Lavell case often. Jeannette Lavell was the respondent in an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. Her original case challenged the sexist membership sections of the Indian Act. Lavell claimed that the provisions violated Indian women’s rights to “equality before the law” under Section 1 (b) of the Canadian Bill of Rights.69 Whiteside listed many reasons that leaders feared the Bill of Rights and its power to interfere with their rights; however, he also stated that if Native leadership were stronger “the Lavell case would be a court action that all Indians would welcome and support” and contended that all possible solutions would require the establishment of strong leaders willing to listen to their people.70 Voice coverage did demonstrate that some people felt Native leaders were not listening to those most affected by the Indian Act’s sexist citizenship regime. Through most of 1972 and 1973 The Indian Voice described women’s political challenge to the Indian Act. At the Second Annual Native Women’s Conference, the Voice reported that the Status issue was causing heated debate and that many women delegates felt strongly that it should be left up to their Chiefs and counsellors as to who would be accepted as Indian onto the band lists.71 Representatives from across Canada presented reports about  69. Attorney General of Canada v. Lavell, [1974] S.C.R. 1349; and R.S.C. 1985, Appendix III, An Act for the Recognition and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms [S.C. 1960, c.44]. The Canadian Bill of Rights was implemented in 1960 and was Canada’s first legal document outlining human rights law. Section 1 (b) reads as follows: “It is hereby recognized and declared that in Canada there have existed and shall continue to exist without discrimination by reason of race, national origin, colour, religion or sex, the following human rights and fundamental freedoms, namely, (b) the right of the individual to equality before the law and the protection of the law” 70. Whiteside (Sin A Paw), “Review of the Lavell Case,” 5. 71. Held 22-24 March 1972 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  24  establishing a national women’s organization.72 A triumphant Voice story, which ran in January 1973 entitled, “Council Supports Women’s Fight,” republished the Native Council of Canada’s perspective on the issue of women’s Status. It seemed as though the NCC was attempting to balance the concerns of women and the official positions of male-dominated organizations that did not support removing section 12 (1) (b).73 The published statement revealed that the NCC felt the Indian Act clause was discriminatory to women and that the Act should not be respected if it would “divide the Indian people on the basis of their choice of marriage partners.”74 Further, the NCC stated it would support the National Committee on Indian Rights for Indian Women to seek funds from the Secretary of State and other agencies for the purpose of continuing their efforts.75 At the same time the NCC was not willing to undermine the authority of male leaders and added: The Native Council of Canada in no way wishes to prejudice the position that maybe [sic] taken by the National Indian Brotherhood or its member organizations not it its action intended to weaken or refute the demands of the Status Indian organizations in Canada to the full protection of their special rights that are guaranteed by the Indian Act.76 However, Voice editorial staff seemed pleased later that year with the Native Indian Brotherhood’s position on the August 1973 Supreme Court decision on the Lavell case. The court’s 5-4 decision found that the Indian Act membership provisions did not violate Indian women’s rights to “equality before the law” under the Bill of Rights. The Native Indian Brotherhood had defended the membership sections of the Indian Act, but expressed willingness to address women’s concerns about the issue of Indian Status. The Voice published 72. “Native Women’s Conference – Sask. (Special to The Indian Voice)”, The Indian Voice, Vol. 4. No. 4. April 1972, 5. 73. “Council Supports Women’s Fight,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 4. No. 1. January 1973, 1 and 2, 1. 74. “Council Supports Women’s Fight,” 1-2. 75. “Council Supports Women’s Fight,” 2. 76. “Council Supports Women’s Fight,” 2.  25  a comment about the resolution passed at the NIB’s General Assembly. The statement reproduced from the NIB about their consultation with the Canadian government about revisions to the Act was as follows: “One goal of the projects is to revise the Indian Act by a formulation of a fair, equitable, and just system of membership, a system fair both to individual people and fair to the reserve communities.”77 Stories that illuminated the gendered politics of Native nationalism continued to make their way on the pages of the Voice. For example, the paper covered a Vancouver intervention in which a number of Aboriginal women and their allies from Vancouver Status of Women gathered downtown to hand out leaflets and “mourn” the death of Bill of Rights’ possibility for liberating Native women. The article pointed out that some women felt that the Bill of Rights should be used to alter the discriminatory sections of the Indian Act. For these women the Supreme Court decision in August was frustrating. Kitty Maracle was present as a spokesperson for the Homemakers and read a statement written by BCIHA President, Rose Charlie, highlighting the Association’s perspective on the issue: Indian women are losing their Status due to marriage to non-Indians contrary to the Bill of Rights. Divorced and widowed Indian women and their children are forced off reserves because of losing their Status. Indian women’s Status must be decided at the band level and not by Indians Affairs at Regional District or Ottawa. We need and want BC Indian women to meet together to get our rights. We must have financial support, a grant from Regional Indian Affairs to hold these meetings. We have asked before for this grant from Regional Indian Affairs, but got only put-downs to see the Chiefs or the Secretary of State or someone else. Jean Chrétien, Minister of Indian Affairs provides grants for Indian organizations to work for their rights. We need and deserve a grant to protect our rights. We are losing the few rights we now have. We have been deprived and depressed for too long. Our anger is reaching a boiling point. Support us financially through your agency for these are due us. The Status of Indian women must become better… In lieu of flowers please send donations…78  77. In February 1973 the Canadian federal government gave Indigenous leaders the go ahead to write an Indian Act that they approved of with Harold Cardinal at the helm of the new project. There was no word on consultation with Indigenous women’s organizations about the issue. “Harold Cardinal Jubilant,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 4. No. 2. February 1973, 1 and 2; and “National Indian Brotherhood Resolution re: Lavell Case,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 4. No. 9/10. September/October 1973, 2.  26  Whether the above description of the state of affairs is entirely accurate is inconsequential – what does matter is that over and over again columnists and BCIHA members publicly called attention to the apparent lack of support for Native women’s rights. That they are described as doing so on the streets of Vancouver and at the bureaucratic level simultaneously is significant. Dual tactics helped the organization highlight the realities of the impact of the Indian Act on women’s lives and argued that Native communities should hold the power to determine their citizenship, not the Canadian government. Contributors to the paper attempted to prove there was support for women’s rights by men involved in the Native nationalist movement. Bill Wilson, a University of British Columbia law graduate and legal advisor to the BC Association of Non-Status Indians (BCANSI), was quoted in Voice articles, in one instance calling male leaders who were against the women “chauvinist pigs.” Ironically, the unlikely champion of women’s rights had previously been considered, according to Kitty Bell, as “the number one male chauvinist in the Indian movement.”79 In the piece, he rescinded his previous position and credited a year working with the BCANSI for his “broader, more flexible outlook.”80 Perhaps it was due to his amended position on women’s issues that he became a regular presence in Voice stories. According to the paper he spoke to women at an assembly in Penticton in the winter of 1973, stating that women had to exercise their leadership “if they want(ed) a voice in their own destiny.”81 The meeting provided a spotlight for addressing the issue of the reserve/urban  78. “Women Mourn Bill of Rights,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 4. No. 9/10. September/October 1973, 3 and 7, 7. 79. Kitty Bell, “Women Victims of Double Discrimination,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 5. No. 11/12. November/December, 1973, 10. 80. Bell, “Women Victims of Double Discrimination,”10. 81. By January 1975 Bill Wilson would be a representative on the UBCIC Council. The Indian Voice, “Women Victims of Double Discrimination,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 5. No. 11/12. November/December 1973, 7.  27  binary and women reportedly spoke out about the inherent value of regaining Status and being part of their families again even if they did not want to go back to their reserves.82 Writers for the Voice also continued to report acts of discrimination by Native men. Bell observed that when Charlie could not represent the Homemakers at a meeting about whether women would be allowed representation on the negotiating team for the settlement of land claims in 1974, no other women delegates were permitted to speak. In reflecting on the incident Bell said that “during coffee breaks women gathered to discuss the obvious attitudes of male chauvinism of segments of the male dominated assembly.”83 Donna Thompson was quoted as saying, “The men should be reminded who organized the Union… I think that’s the reason they are against the recognition of women is because women are more efficient than them.”84 The prevailing attitude expressed by women was that changes to the Indian Act were of primary importance. In August 1974 the UBCIC made a recommendation that revisions be put on hold until all land claims were settled. The Indian Voice was quick to publish a response that disagreed with the Union’s position.85 Bell interviewed Bill Wilson for the paper in December of 1974 and January 1975. He charged that “‘(m)ale dominated organizations don’t give a damn’” and stated that the Supreme Court decision was a political one to appease male leaders who opposed revisions to the Act.86 Further, he accused UBCIC Council members of sexism: “the majority of people involved in  82. “Indian Women Who Lose Status,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 5. No. 11/12. November/December 1973, 13. 83. Kitty Bell, “Women’s Rights,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 5. No. 5. May 1974, 3. Wilson had apparently attempted to speak on behalf of the women, but without success. 84. Bell, “Women’s Rights,” 3. 85. Kitty Bell, “Until Land Claims Settled UBCIC Urges Postponement of Indian Act Revision,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 6. No. 8. August 1974, 1. 86. Kitty Bell, “‘Male dominated organizations don’t give a damn,’” The Indian Voice, Vol. 6. No. 12. December 1974, 1, 2 and 8, 2.  28  the Union don’t respect women… they consider women as inferior people, to be their slaves and should keep their proper place in the kitchen.”87 In the 1975 interview he went so far as to call the UBCIC a “secret society” and blamed their lack of action at the grassroots level on the two to three years of guaranteed core funding still on its way.88 Utilizing the voices of men such as Wilson appears to have been a strategic move on the part of Voice columnists. It points out that men’s support of these issues may have been necessary. Further, without their own UBCIC representative, it would have been helpful to have an advocate on the Union. It may also have been to draw attention to the fact that a man who believed in supporting women’s rights was young and educated. This complicates the picture painted by older male leadership that these young men were the issue. It raises questions about whether older male leadership had been shifting blame onto a new generation of university-educated men or if these young men were rethinking inherited sexism. Read as an intervention that accentuates not just gender dynamics, but also ideas about community and citizenship, examples from The Indian Voice reveal how complex these issues were. Voice stories provided insight into ways of looking at community and citizenship as fluid and changing rather than fixed. They emphasized some peoples’ willingness to either return to, or embrace, Indigeneity that was not threatened by women’s power or the changing place of Native peoples in Canadian society. Regardless of their potentially enlightened opinions, Bell was quick to publicly reproach Wilson and other men when their actions were seen as contradictory to women’s and children’s needs. Bell’s 1975 Voice exposé described reactions to an ill-fated manoeuvre, orchestrated by Wilson, to end power struggles within the Union and with the provincial and federal governments. He had hoped that all organizations in the province would reject funding. The  87. Bell, “‘Male dominated organizations don’t give a damn,’” 8. 88. Kitty Bell, “Bill Wilson Tells It As He Sees It,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 7. No. 1. January 1975, 1, 8, 10, and 12, 1.  29  Homemakers rejected his proposal on the basis that it would adversely impact whether individuals received their welfare cheques.89 While Wilson and other Union members did not directly advocate welfare cut-offs, the result of their rejection of funding was the closure of DIA district offices through which the welfare cheques were distributed. Bell reported on Chiefs’ and Band Councils’ refusal to negotiate with the DIA head office to ensure that people would not starve. According to Bell, early in the fiasco Doris Ronnenberg resigned from her position as Director of Health and Welfare for the BCANSI. She called the organization “a small group of misguided men” and charged that, “Indian women and children will bear the brunt of this poorly planned decision.”90 The Voice published a separate story on the Homemakers opposition to the decision. Charlie accused the Union of poor leadership: “We firmly believe that this ultimatum issued by these irresponsible leaders is an encroachment of those in power on the grassroots level of native people to at liberty to choose whether or not they wish to refuse government funding.”91 Further reports indicate that at the IHA’s Annual Conference in June 1975, women attacked male delegates. Mrs. Agnes Dick addressed Union Executive Phillip Paul telling him that men were “stomping on little children and ignoring the anguish of mothers.” Trying to drive home the severity of the situation Doreen Pelkey of the Saanich band demanded of Wilson: “How do you explain your policy to an Indian child? It just cries and cries and does not understand why there is no food in the house.”92 Voice portraits portrayed women opposed to male-dominated organizations and the shameful reception that they received in response. Apparently, some women who attended the conference received threatening phone calls. One 89. Kitty Bell, “Committee ‘Misguided Men’” The Indian Voice, Vol. 7. No. 5. May 1975, 8. 90. Bell, “Committee ‘Misguided Men’” The Indian Voice, Vol. 7. No. 5. May 1975, 8 91. “Rose Charlie Against UBCIC Decision,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 7. No. 6. June 1975, 1 and 2, 1. 92. “Phillip Given Hell by Homemakers,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 7. No. 6. June 1975, 1 and 19.  30  woman alleged that her Band office was broken into and vandalized by a group of young men from her own community. In a shocking public statement this woman said that the leader of the attack told her there was no use charging him because he had the support of Union executives who would pay for his legal defence.93 Taking a stand against male leadership’s decisions when they had a negative impact on the lives of Native peoples appears to have had consequences for women. It is not clear from these sources whether male leaders were refusing to help their citizens or condoning supposed acts of violence. In either case, some Native women may have perceived male leaders as tacitly consenting to violence against them. Unpredictably, in the fall of 1975 the Voice declared that the funding fiasco ended as suddenly as it had begun.94 Although there is no explanation, articles in the spring and summer of 1976 reported on the Homemakers agenda given their permanent seat on the new UBCIC Council.95 Bell’s coverage of the 13th Annual IHA conference emphasized that, having attained a seat on the Union, the BCIHA would continue to stress the role of Native women in the fight for social justice. Bell asserted that “Indian women must break the physical and psychological chains that have controlled, demeaned, and restricted them.”96 An October news story revealed that the Association was encouraging women living on reserves to get involved in the joint  93. “Women Threatened,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 7. No. 6. June 1975, 13. 94. Post-UBCIC funding fracas the organization was “preparing to reorganize.” Ultimately, only four of the 188 BC Bands backed UBCIC funding rejection and “according to Ottawa officials no money was returned or rejected by either bands or organizations. And the second quarterly funds have all been applied for.” Unfortunately, the closure of district offices for months still had a significant impact on people’s lives. Kitty Bell, “Movement Collapses” The Indian Voice, Vol. 7. No. 9. September 1975, 1. 95. Kitty Bell, “UBCIC on the Move Again,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 8. No. 4. April 1976, 1 and 2; “Homemakers Awarded A Seat,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 8. No. 5. May 1976, 15; “Homemakers Get UBCIC Support,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 8. No. 5. May 1976, 17; and “Homemakers President Urges Union of All Chiefs,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 8. No. 6. June 1976, 2 and 3. 96. Rose Charlie also and called for the establishment of a provincial Women’s Centre for the removal of restrictions and discrimination and for development to improve conditions and circumstances of women in the province. She insisted “the centre should have at least one Native woman.” Kitty Bell, “Women Must Break Chains,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 8. No. 9. September 1976, 2.  31  program proposed by NIB and DIAND for new housing. Again, women’s activism through the IHA and the notion of community were linked: “The objectives of that first organization, the Homemakers, are the same as they are today, namely, to attain a betterment of life in all aspects affecting Indian people.”97 While the Voice focused on BCIHA activities in BC in the mid-1970s, it also continued to publish about the Association’s involvement organizing nationally around Indigenous women’s rights. In January 1974 the Homemakers were part of an assembly of women in Vancouver who formed the Committee of Indian Rights for Indian Women (IRIW).98 The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) was also formed at this time; Rose Charlie’s election to the Executive as the representative for BC was celebrated in the newsletter.99 Not until the end of 1976 would these organizations really start to push their agendas. In this time, however, there was little sign in the Voice of changes in men’s attitudes towards Native women organizing to change the Indian Act. In the summer of 1977 an article by Karen Fish in The Indian Voice outlined why Indigenous men were opposed to changes to Status legislation. Fish quoted Douglas Sanders, from the McGill Law Journal, “…Status Indians feared that white men, as husbands of Indian women, would come onto reserves and take over. White wives of Status men were not seen as posing the same threat to the Indian reserve community.”100 Using this “expert” opinion to buttress her statement, Fish asserted “Indian women involved in the fight for equality and the fight to regain their heritage are opposed by their own people – by the all male, Status National Indian Brotherhood and by Status women who have a stake in the 97. “Indian Women and Housing,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 8. No. 10. October 1976, 7. 98. “National Committee of Indian Rights for Indian Women,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 6. No. 1. January 1974, 2. 99. “Native Women Elect Executive,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 6. No. 2. February 1974, 11. 100. Karen Fish, “Native Women Fight Unique Battle,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 9. No. 8. August 1977, 17 and 19, 17.  32  Status quo.”101 In the Voice, the Indian Act Status provision was seen as having been supported by male leaders whose power to be the sole providers of citizenship it protected. The issue of whom the Act worked for and whom it worked against would come up again in the paper’s coverage of the ongoing debates about Status. Early in 1978 Sandra Nicholas Lovelace, a member of the Maliseet Nation from the Tobique Reserve in New Brunswick, issued a formal complaint to the United Nations regarding Section 12 (1) (b) of Canada’s Indian Act.102 Through the summer the Indian Voice reporters followed the story. In May, Indian Rights for Indian Women was reported to have a draft of revisions to the Act that they would be sharing with the Department of Indian Affairs.103 June’s headline declared: “Federal Government is Going Ahead With Indian Act Changes.”104 Kitty Sparrow commented that despite resistance from the UBCIC and other Indigenous leaders the Federal government was going ahead on revisions to the Indian Act, including section 12 (1) (b).105 In the same edition Bill Wilson re-emerged on the side of Indigenous women and attacked Grace McCarthy and Indigenous male leaders. Lynne Jorgensen, of Spahomin (near Merritt, BC) quoted Wilson stating that it was time to deal with: the question of Native Indian women’s rights and the revision of the Indian Act. Women have been thrown off their reserves, torn from their families, and disinherited from the lifestyle that has existed for 20 000 years by supposed Indian organizations that are dealing in your (Indigenous people’s) interests.106  101. Fish, “Native Women Fight Unique Battle,” 19. 102. “NB Woman Takes Canada to UN Over Section 12 (Jan.25, CNNS),” The Indian Voice, Vol. 10. No. 2. February 1978, 19; and The Tobique Women’s Group & Janet Silman. Enough is Enough: Aboriginal Women Speak Out. Toronto: The Women’s Press, 1987. 103. “Indian Rights for Indian Women Steps Up Action Plans (April 13, CNNS),” The Indian Voice, Vol. 10. No. 5. May 1978, 7 and 8. 104. Kitty Sparrow, “Federal Government is Going Ahead With Indian Act Changes,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 10. No. 6. June 1978, 1. 105. Sparrow, “Federal Government is Going Ahead With Indian Act Changes,”1.  33  Over a year later, Native men’s organizations in BC were accused of still refusing to deal with women’s demands. By 1980, Voice writers presented dealings between the BC Indian Homemakers and male leaders as rockier than they had ever been before. Sparrow noted that at the first annual conference on the Constitution, Chief Mary Pious, of Fort George, was ruled out of order over and over again as she demanded answers from Chiefs and male leadership. Speaking on behalf of the Homemakers she was recorded as stating: We have been told by the Prime Minister to go home and talk to Indian men… Go and talk to Chiefs, he said, for without their support the government will not make a move on its own to end discrimination… So I have come to as an Indian woman and a Chief to ask you when you will take a stand to support the rights of your women to remain Indian.107 According to Sparrow, no answers were forthcoming. A month later at the 16th Annual Homemakers Assembly the BCIHA officially withdrew their support from the Union that they had helped to create. Citing their reasons for resigning their seat on the UBCIC the Homemakers’ statement declared that despite the desire to support a united voice for Indian people in the province, the women representatives on the Union Council were reduced to the status of observers and that the seats were merely tokens.108 June also brought news on the legal front – Canada had defended its position on Section 12 (1) (b) to the UN Human Rights Committee. Although the federal government did  106. “Profile: Lynne Jorgenen, Reporter,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 10. No. 2. February 1978, 15; and Lynne Jorgensen, “McCarthy, Organizations Under Fire by Wilson” The Indian Voice, Vol. 10. No. 6. June 1978, 1 and 2, 2 107. Kitty Sparrow, “Male Chiefs Challenged on Clause in the Indian Act by Female Chief,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 11. No. 5. May 1980, 5. Fort George has since been renamed Prince George, BC. 108. The Native Women’s Society of BC had also been given a seat on the UBCIC Council after the organization reformed in 1976. Kitty Sparrow, “Indian Homemakers Withdraw from UBCIC,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 11. No. 6. June 1980, 10.  34  acknowledge that the Indian Act was in need of reform, it would not undertake the task.109 According to Sparrow, Indian Rights for Indian Women reacted by accusing the Canadian government of presenting a “distorted history” of patrilineal descent in all First Nations and of “denying that the actual motive for the enactment of section 12 (1) (b) was the reduction of the Indian population and control of Status Indians.”110 Further, IRIW demanded that Canada’s response be made public and amendments be made after consultation with the people and organizations concerned – including women’s representatives.111 Perhaps to drive home the point that full consultation was needed on the issue of Status, the Voice published an article in July that drew attention to this. Chief Mary Pious was in the spotlight again, taking on male leaders at “the male dominated First Nations Constitutional Conference held in Ottawa in April.”112 Sparrow said that Pious delivered her message despite being interrupted several times. Pious demanded to know, “As Indians, how can we demand our rightful place in Canadian Society without addressing the very basic issue of Indian citizenship.”113 Speaking to the Chiefs on their responsibility to ensure social justice for women and to resist continued attempts by the Canadian state to define Indigeneity she said: I am here to say that the Indian women of Canada have the same rights as Indian men. We are members of the founding Nations of Canada. It is a right we intend to retain until death. And it is a right we will pass on to our children and their children… How much longer are we going to allow a foreign govt [sic] to define for us who our people are? …Just remember this, “Where your birth water falls you cannot change.”114 109. Kitty Sparrow, “Discrimination of Women Taken to UN,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 11. No. 6. June 1980, 1. 110. Kitty Sparrow, “Canada’s Response to UN Inaccurate Charges IRIW,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 11. No. 6. June 1980, 1 and 10, 10. 111. Sparrow, “Canada’s Response to UN Inaccurate,” 10. 112. Kitty Sparrow, “Support of the Native Males Needed to End Discrimination Against Women says Chief Pious,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 11. No. 7. July 1980, 3. 113. Sparrow, “Support of the Native Males Needed to End Discrimination Against Women says Chief Pious,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 11. No. 7. July 1980, 3. 114. Sparrow, “Support of the Native Males Needed to End Discrimination,” 3.  35  Chief Pious’ questions pointed out the flawed rationale behind men’s concerns about assimilation through miscegenation. The article asserted that women were willing to accept that their partners or husbands were not Indian and therefore, not entitled to Status, if men were willing to do the same. Passing on Indian Status to one’s children, on the other hand, was declared to be a matter of birthright.115 As tensions mounted between male Indigenous leaders and women activists on the pages of The Indian Voice, the argument was also heating up on the floor of the House of Commons. Sparrow described one scenario on July 7th, when Flora MacDonald, former Conservative external affairs Minister “lambasted the Prime Minister… for inaction.”116 MacDonald apparently related that sixty hours before at a Liberal convention Trudeau had said that human rights were not negotiable. Speaking to the question of Status for Indian women she was quoted as saying: “I presume that was what the pm [sic] meant – that human rights are not negotiable including the rights of Indian women.”117 A month later Sparrow commented on the July 17th moratorium declared by Minister of Indian Affairs on discrimination an enshrined in the Indian Act. The Minister made it clear that despite the Canadian government’s position, it remained up to the 500 bands across Canada to intervene on behalf of their women and ask that the membership clause no longer apply for them. He also made it clear that Indian Affairs had no intention of reinstating women who had already been stricken from Band lists.118 By October 1980 the Voice declared that an underwhelming two percent of Band Councils had  115. Sparrow, “Support of the Native Males Needed to End Discrimination,” 3. 116. Kitty Sparrow, “MacDonald Lambasts PM on the Indian Women’s Rights Issue,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 11. No. 7. July 1980, 3. 117. Sparrow, “MacDonald Lambasts PM,” 3. 118. Kathleen Bell-Younger, “Moratorium on Section 12 (1) (b) Declared by Munro,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 11. No. 8. August 1980, 2. Sparrow pointed out that all twenty-three women in Parliament at the time were part of a united front to pressure the federal government to take action on the Status issue.  36  taken action on the issue of Status.119 Not surprisingly, in an article published the same month UBCIC President George Manuel was said to have called invoking the Charter of Rights on gender issues “an aggressive and hostile act against Indians.”120 Yet, the question of who was an “Indian” and who was not remained largely answered – women and children who had lost Status and been removed from their communities had a solid foundation in which to root their claims to their legitimate heritage. The ripples of these debates about gender and citizenship put further strain on the relationship between the UBCIC and the BCIHA. The Homemakers continued to use their newspaper to cover their side of the issue, while pursuing their mandate of seeking social justice for Indigenous women. For the women of the Association, male domination was not just about men being in charge. The IHA had supported the formation of the UBCIC to deal with negotiating with government on behalf of Native peoples. As represented in the Voice, the Homemakers challenges to Union members’ sexism seems to have been about how leaders were leading – about the type of leadership being enacted. Members of the IHA criticized the UBCIC, and other male-dominated organizations, for their lack of grassroots activism and connection to on-the-ground community concerns. At the same time the IHA was shown attempting to balance a representative role to government with their seeming concern for what Aboriginal people and communities really needed and wanted. Sometimes this meant that they highlighted their work with provincial and federal governments and/or the very men’s organizations they were critiquing. The connections among gender, colonization, and nationalism meant that the IHA used the framework of Canadian law while asserting their ideas about how to change it. The Indian Voice was a forum for the Homemakers and other women to 119. Kathleen Bell-Younger, “Section 12(1)(b) In Effect Because of Lack of Band Action,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 11. No. 10. October, 2. 120. Kitty Sparrow, “Charter of Rights’ Resolutions Is An Aggressive, Hostile Act Against Indians Says Manuel,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 11. No. 10. October 1980, 5.  37  challenge sexism. Its narratives centered women within the discourse of Native nationalism and declared them firmly rooted in their Indigenous identity and roles as female citizens of their Nations.  38  V. Conclusions The Indian Voice can be viewed both as an intervention in dominant discourses about Native nationalism and women’s rights. It was a forum in which some Aboriginal women imagined and sought a politic free from inherent or inherited sexism. Unfortunately, in 1984, due to funding issues, the Indian Voice stopped its presses.121 Women’s perspectives represented in The Indian Voice framed questions and concerns about issues of identity and community within Aboriginal nationalist politics. The paper produced striking examples of the complicated debates that emerged from sexism within Native politics and discourse. Voice columnists commented on the systemic impoverishment of women and children due to the gendered allocation of resources and access to homes and social networks on reserves. Aboriginal womanhood and the necessity of women’s political involvement were highly contested in the context of shifting ideas about Indigenous identity, gender, power, and nationalism. Some women’s opinions highlighted how women worked with and against stereotypes about hegemonic femininity and “Indian” identity within a shifting and highly charged political climate. The paper published debates about how gender shaped nationalist policy concerns. Contributors relayed discussions about the consequences of legal definitions of Indigeneity, and thereby, the lives of Native women. On the pages of The Indian Voice women found a voice at a time when the Canadian state and the official position of Aboriginal male leadership left women out of the story.122 The Indian Voice drew attention to Aboriginal women’s very real needs. These needs arose because contemporary male political leaders’ views on, and goals for, self-determination  121. Charlie, “The history of Aboriginal women's activism and organizing in British Columbia,” 2008. The BCIHA continued its work for social justice and for Native women’s rights into the 1990s. 122. Audrey Huntley and Fay Blaney, “Bill C-31: Its Impact, Implications, and Recommendations for Change in British Columbia – Final Report,” Aboriginal Women’s Action Network, December 1999.  39  did not take women’s issues seriously. Observations in the newspaper pointed out that the onthe-ground effect of political manoeuvring had disproportionately negative consequences for women and children on reserves across the province.123 Drawing on the value of women’s situated knowledge, which included discourses about gender-specific roles, the representations of women in the paper were multi-layered and complex.124 The Voice painted Native women as well-intentioned mothers, grandmothers, or caregivers who were concerned about maintaining traditions and practices. Stories also depicted women as grassroots activists shaping their communities and political leaders working on the front lines opposing sexism, misogyny, and violence against women and children. Further, the discourse about citizenship in The Indian Voice called attention to how the state, supported by many First Nations male leaders, defined Indigeneity in such a manner that it directly interfered with women’s access to power.125 In the Voice, Native women’s political activism and support for self-determination was not considered mutually exclusive from resisting male domination or fighting for women’s rights. The newspaper’s reporting on women-centered activism was novel. Native women were under-represented in discussions about self-determination. They experienced gender-based oppression as a result of colonialism and sexism.126 Indigenous women were not, however, passive in their relationships to the political forces that shaped Native nationalism. The Voice represented women demanding access to power within and outside of their own communities while refusing to accept sexism as a part of self123. “Rose Charlie Against UBCIC Decision,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 7. No. 6. June 1975, 1-2. 124. Suneri, “Moving Beyond the Feminism Verses Nationalism Dichotomy,” 143-148. 125. Audrey Huntley and Fay Blaney, “Bill C-31: Its Impact, Implications, and Recommendations for Change in British Columbia – Final Report,” Indigenous Women’s Action Network, December 1999. 126. “Stolen Sisters: A Human Rights Response to Discrimination and Violence Against Indigenous Women in Canada,” Amnesty International October 2004; and “International Women’s Day 2007: Ending Impunity for Violence Against First Nations Women and Girls,” Assembly of First Nations, <http://afn.ca/article.asp?id=3412, Accessed 21 March 2007.  40  determination. The depiction of the Homemakers’ commitment to advocating women’s needs and ideas about citizenship can be viewed as evidence of a radical stance on sovereignty.127 On the pages of The Indian Voice, women negotiated the gendered politics of Native nationalism or they challenged the sexism and inattention to issues of the local community. Voice articles simultaneously painted women as totally committed to their communities even as they challenged exclusionary and sexist citizenship laws. Native women were depicted utilizing their positions as women to advance their goals for citizenship and nationalism, giving credence to the oft-quoted term: “A nation is not defeated until the hearts of its women are on the ground.”128 As Rose Charlie asserted in a 2008 interview, almost a quarter of a century after the paper’s final edition was printed, Native women proved to the world that that they were their nations.129  127. 1980-1983 box, BCIHA Collection, AMCS; BCIHA, Seventh Annual Convention minutes, Wednesday, 20 May 1970; Sparrow, “The Family Unit is the Foundation of Indian Culture Says Charlie,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 12. No. 6 June 1980, 3; Sparrow, “IHA Challenge Provincial Jurisdiction to Apprehend Native Children,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 13. No. 5. May 1981, 1-2; and Bell-Younger, “IHA President Flays Indian Leadership,” The Indian Voice, Vol. 13. No. 5. May 1981, 9. 128. For example: BC Native Women’s Society Poster, n.d. (usually described as a Cheyenne proverb). 129. Charlie, “The history of Aboriginal women's activism and organizing in British Columbia, 2008.  41  Bibliography Primary Sources: Native Voice. Vancouver, Native Brotherhood of BC (1946-1968, 1970-1989). The Indian Voice. Vancouver, Indian Homemakers’ Association of BC (1969-1984). 1980-1983 and Child Apprehension boxes. British Columbia Indian Homemakers’ Association Collection. Aboriginal Mothers’ Centre Society. Vancouver, BC. Attorney General of Canada v. Lavell. [1974] S.C.R. 1349. British Columbia Indian Homemakers’ Association. Seventh Annual Convention minutes, 1970. R.S.C. 1985. Appendix III. An Act for the Recognition and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms [S.C. 1960, c.44]. Secondary Literature: Acoose, Janice / Misko-Kìsikàwihkwè (Red Sky Woman). Iskwewak - Kah΄ Ki Yaw Ni Wahkomakanak: Neither Indian Princess Nor Easy Squaws. Toronto: Women’s Press, 1995. Alfred, Taiaiake. Wasáse: Indigenous Pathways of Action and Freedom. Broadview Press, 2005. Anderson, Kim and Bonita Lawrence. Eds. Strong Women Stories: Native Vision and Community Survival. Toronto: Sumach Press, 2003. Anderson, Kim. Recognition of Being: Reconstructing Native Womanhood. Toronto: Sumach Press, 2000. Anzaldúa, Gloria E. and Analouise Keating. Eds. This Bridge We Call Home: Radical Visions for Transformation. New York and London: Routledge, 2002. Armstrong, Jeannette. “Land Speaking.” In Speaking for the Generations Ed. Simon Oritz, 175-194. Tuscon: University of Arizona Press, 1998. Armstrong, Jeannette. “‘Sharing One Skin: Okanagan Community.” In The Case Against the Global Economy. Ed. J. Munder, 460-470. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1996. A.W.A.N. Bill C-31: It’s Impact, Implications, and Recommendations for Change in British Columbia – Final Report. Vancouver: December 1999. Banerjee, Sikata. “Warriors in Politics: Religious Nationalism, Masculine Hinduism and 42  the Shiv Sena in Bombay.” Women and Politics, 20 3 (1999): 1-26. Banerjee, Sikata. “Gender and Nationalism: The Masculization of Hinduism and Female Political Participation in India.” Women’s Studies International Forum 26 2 (2003): 167-179. Bear, Shirley with the Tobique Women’s Group, “You Can’s Change the Indian Act?” In Women and Social Change: Feminist Activism in Canada. Eds. Jeri Wine and Janice Ristock. Halifax: James Lorimer, 1991. de Beauvoir, Simone. The Second Sex. First published, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1952. Blaney, Fay. “Aboriginal Women’s Action Network,” In Strong Women Stories: Native Vision and Community Survival ed. by Anderson, Kim and Bonita Lawrence, 156-170. Toronto: Sumach Press, 2003. Blaney, Fay. “Backing Out of Hell.” In Bringing It Home ed. Brenda Lee Brown, 19-33. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 1996. Boccara, Guillaume. “Rethinking the Margins/Thinking from the Margins: Culture, Power, and Place on the Frontiers of the New World.” Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power 10 (2003): 59-81. Brant, Beth. Writing as Witness: Essay and Talk. Toronto: Women’s Press, 1994. Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. Routledge, 1990. Carter, Sarah, et. al. Unsettled Pasts: Reconceiving the West Through Women’s History. Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2005. Chowdhury, Indira. The Frail Hero and Virile History: Gender and the Politics of Culture in Colonial Bengal. Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998. Clayton, Daniel. “Absence, Memory and Geography.” BC Studies, 132 (Winter 2001/02): 65-79. Clayton, Daniel. Islands of Truth: The Imperial Fashioning of Vancouver Island. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2000 Cruikshank, Julie. Life Lived Like a Story: Life Stories of Three Yukon Native Elders. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2004. First published in 1990 by the University of Nebraska Press. Cruikshank, Julie. The Social Life of Stories: Narrative and Knowledge in the Yukon Territory. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1998. 43  Derné, Steve. “Men’s sexuality and women’s subordination in Indian nationalisms.” In Gender Ironies of Nationalism: Sexing the Nation, 236-258. Ed. Tamar Mayer. London & New York: Routledege, 2000. Fisher, Robin. Contact and Conflict: Indian-European Relations in British Columbia, 1774-1890. Vancouver: UBC Press, 1992. Fiske, Jo-Anne. “Child of the State, Mother of the Nation: Aboriginal Women and the Ideology of Motherhood.” Paper presented to the Joint Meetings of the Atlantic Canada Studies and B.C. Studies Associations, May 21-24, 1992. Fournier, Suzanne and Ernie Grey. Stolen From Our Embrace: The Abduction of First Nations Children and the Restoration of Aboriginal Communities. Toronto: Douglas and McIntyre, 1997. Gunn Allen, Paula. Off the Reservation: Reflections on Boundary-Busting, BorderCrossing, Loose Canons. Boston: Beacon Press, 1998. Hall, Stuart. “Gramsci’s Relevance for the Study of Race and Ethnicity.” Journal of Communication Inquiry. 10 2 (1986): 5-27. Harris, Cole. “How Did Colonialism Dispossess?: Comments from an Edge of Empire.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 94 (1) (2004): 165-182. Harris, Cole. Making Native Space: Colonialism, Resistance, and Reserves in British Columbia. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2002. Hernández, Daisy and Bushra Rehman. Eds. Colonize This!: Young Women of Colour on Today’s Feminism. New York: Seal Press, 2002. Highway, Thomson. Kiss of the Fur Queen. Doubleday Canada, 1999. hooks, bell. Sisters of the Yam: Black Women and Self-Recovery. Cambridge, Massachusetts: South End Press Classics, 2005. First published 1994. hooks, bell. Feminism is for Everybody. Cambridge, Massachusetts: South End Press, 2000. Howard-Bobiwash, Heather. “Women’s Class Strategies as Activism in Native Community Building in Toronto, 1950-1975.” American Indian Quarterly Vol. 27. Nos. 3 & 4 (Summer & Fall 2003): 566-582. Jaimeson, Kathleen. Indian Women in Canada and the Law: Citizens Minus. Ottawa: Minister of Supplies and Services, 1987. King, Thomas. Green Grass, Running Water. Toronto: Harper Collins Publishers Ltd., 1993. 44  Lawrence, Bonita. “Gender, Race, and the Regulation of Native Identity in Canada and the United States: An Overview.” Hypatia 18 (2) (Spring 2003): 3-31. Lawrence, Bonita. “Rewriting Histories of the Land: Colonization and Indigenous Resistance in Eastern Canada.” In Race, Place, and the Law, ed. Sherene Razack, 21-46, Toronto: Between the Lines, 2002. Lee, Gordon R. “Final Report – Native Women’s Programme Review.” Prepared for the Secretary of State, February 1978. Maracle, Lee. I am Woman: A Native Perspective on Sociology and Feminism. Vancouver: Press Gang Publishers, 1996. First published in 1988 by Write-On Publishers Ltd. Marsden, Susan. “Adawx, Spanaxnox, and the Geopolitics of the Tsimshian.” BC Studies 135 (Autumn 2002): 101-135. Mayer, Tamar. Gender Ironies of Nationalism: Sexing the Nation. London & New York: Routledge, 2000. McClintock, Anne. Imperial Leather: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest. Routledge, 1995. Mihesuah, Devon Abott. Indigenous American Women: Decolonization, Empowerment, and Activism. Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 2003. Miller, Christine and Patricia Chuchryk. Eds. Women of the First Nations: Power, Wisdom and Strength. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1996. Miller, J.R. Skyscrapers Hide the Heavens: A History of Indian-White Relations in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1989. Miller, John S. A National Crime: The Canadian Government and the Residential School System, 1879-1986. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999. Monture-Angus, Patricia. Journeying Forward: Dreaming First Nations’ Independence. Halifax: Fernwood Publishers, 1999. Narayan, Kirin. “How Native is a Native Anthropologist.” in Women Writing Culture, Eds. Ruth Behar and Deborah A. Gordon, 23-41. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1995. Oulette, Grace. The Fourth World: An Indigenous Perspective on Feminism and Aboriginal Women’s Activism. Halifax: Fernwood Publishing, 2002. Perry, Adele. On the Edge of Empire: Gender, Race, and the Making of British Columbia, 1849-1871. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001. 45  Pickles, Katie and Myra Rutherdale. Contact Zones: Aboriginal and Settler Women in Canada’s Colonial Past. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2005. Price, Richard T. Ed. The Spirit of the Alberta Indian Treaties. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 1999. Razack, Sherene. “Gendered Racial Violence and Spatialized Justice: The Murder of Pamela George.” Race, Space, and the Law. Ed. Sherene Razack. Toronto: Between the Lines, 2002. Riley, Denise. “Am I That Name?”: Feminism and the Category of ‘Women’ In History. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1981. Scott, Joan. Gender and the Politics of History. Revised Ed. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999, first published 1988. Sinha, Mrinalini. Colonial Masculinity: the ‘manly Englishman’ and the ‘effeminate Bengali’ in the late nineteenth century. Manchester & New York: Manchester University Press, 1995. Sparke, Matthew. “A Map that Roared and an Original Atlas: Canada, Cartography, and the Narration of Nation.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 88 (3) (1998): 463-495. Smith, Andrea. Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide. Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 2005. Smith, Andrea. Native Americans and the Christian Right: The Gendered Politics of Unlikely Alliances. Duke University Press, 2008. Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. Decolonizing Methodologies. Zed Books, 1999. Smith-Rosenberg, Carroll. Disorderly Conduct: Visions of Gender in Victorian America. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1985. “Stolen Sisters: A Human Rights Response to Discrimination and Violence Against Indigenous Women in Canada.” Amnesty International, October 2004. Strong-Boag, Veronica. Finding Families, Finding Ourselves: English Canada Encounters Adoption form the Nineteenth Century to the 1990s. Oxford University Press, 2006. Tennant, Paul. Aboriginal People and Politics: The Indian Land Question in British Columbia, 1849-1989. Vancouver: UBC Press, 1990. The Tobique Women’s Group & Janet Silman. Enough is Enough: Aboriginal Women Speak Out. Toronto: The Women’s Press, 1987. 46  Treaty 7 Elders and the Tribal Council with Walter Hildebrant, Sarah Carter, and Dorothy First Rider. The True Spirit and Intent of Treaty 7, (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queens University Press, 1996. Turpel-Lafond, Mary Ellen. “Patriarchy and Paternalism: The Legacy of the Canadian State for First Nations Women,” In Women and the Canadian State. ed. by Caroline Andrews and Sandra Rodgers, 64-78. Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 1997. Valaskakis, Gail Guthrie, et. al. Eds. Restoring the Balance: First Nations Women, Community, and Culture. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2009. Venne, Sharon. “Understanding Treaty 6: An Indigenous Perspective,” in Aboriginal Treaty Rights in Canada: Essays on Law, Equality, and Respect for Difference. Ed. Michael Asch. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1997. Voyageur, Cora J. “They Called Her Chief: A Tribute to Fort MacKay’s Indomitable Leader, Dorothy McDonald.” In Unsettled Pasts: Reconceiving the West Through Women’s History. Eds. Carter, Sarah, et. al. 355-361. Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2005. Voyageur, Cora J. “The Community Owns You: Experiences of Female Chiefs in Canada.” In Out of the Ivory Tower: Feminist Research for Social Change. Eds. Andrea Martinez and Meryn Stuart, 228-247. Sumach Press, 2003. Walmsley, Christopher. Protecting Aboriginal Children. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2005. Whiteside, Don. “Efforts to Develop Aboriginal Political Associations in Canada, 18501965.” Aboriginal Institute of Canada, 10 January, 1974. Wickwire, Wendy. “Stories From the Margins: Toward a More Inclusive British Columbia Historiography.” Journal of America Folklore, 118 (470) (Fall 2005): 453-474. Wickwire, Wendy. “Women in Ethnography: The Research of James A. Teit,” Ethnohistory 40:4 (Fall 1993). Video: Red Power Women. Directed by Cleo Reece. 1999. Websites: “International Women’s Day 2007: Ending Impunity for Violence Against First Nations Women and Girls.” Assembly of First Nations. http://afn.ca/article.asp?id=3412. Accessed 21 March 2007. The People’s Paths Home Page. “The Leonard Peltier Case,” 47  http://www.yvwiiusdinvnohii.net/LeonardPeltier/LPDCCanada.htm. Accessed 3 September 2009. “What Kevin Annett has done to Harriet Nahanee,” http://mytwobeadsworth.com/HarriettNahanee31207.html. Accessed 3 September 2009.  48  

Cite

Citation Scheme:

        

Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics

Share

Embed

Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                        
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            src="{[{embed.src}]}"
                            data-item="{[{embed.item}]}"
                            data-collection="{[{embed.collection}]}"
                            data-metadata="{[{embed.showMetadata}]}"
                            data-width="{[{embed.width}]}"
                            async >
                            </script>
                            </div>
                        
                    
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:
http://iiif.library.ubc.ca/presentation/dsp.24.1-0067761/manifest

Comment

Related Items