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

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.

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