Native American feminism

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Native American Feminism or Native Feminism aims to define and establish the struggles of inter-sectional relationships between race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class and nations in North America for women.[1] How Native women identify themselves varies according to tribe, geography, and country of origin. In Canada, indigenous women call themselves 'First Nations' or 'aboriginal', in the United States; often they identify themselves as 'Native American' or 'American Indian', and in Mexico the term 'indigenous' is used. [2] Native feminism is a narrow branch of the more transnational Indigenous feminism which incorporates Indigenous perspectives and feminist theory and practice to create a more inclusive feminist practice for Indigenous people.

Paula Gunn Allen, Native American writer and activist, has written about Eva Emery Dye's incorporation of Sacagawea into her history of feminism, using the teenage guide as a symbol of strength of power. However, Allen notes that white feminism and tribal women's entanglement goes back to the first European settlers whose lives involved Native neighbors, and with whom they "often shared food, information, child care, and health care". [3] However, the coined phrase "feminist" or "feminism" is something that scholars have been battling back and forth; Kate Shanley, a native feminist, believes that native women misunderstand “feminism" and therefore do not want to associate with a white women’s movement.[4] But feminism has a special meaning to Native women, including the idea of promoting the continuity of tradition, and consequently, pursuing the recognition of Tribal sovereignty.[4][2] Tribal sovereignty should be central to the discussion of feminism, since it is truly a pivotal political concern in Indian Country.[2] In order for Native Americans to survive culturally and materially, they must fight and struggle for tribal sovereignty and nationalism so that they can govern themselves following their own institutions and worldview.[2] In order to accomplish this, Tribal sovereignty must be re-conceptualized from Native women's perspectives.[2] As Crystal Ecohawk states: Sovereignty is an active, living process within this knot of human, material and spiritual relationships bound together by mutual responsibilities and obligations. From that knot of relationships is born our histories, our identity, the traditional ways in which we govern ourselves, our beliefs, our relationship to the land, and how we feed, clothe, house and take care of our families, communities and Nations.[5]


  1. Ramirez, Renya K. "Learning across Differences: Native and Ethnic Studies Feminisms", American Quarterly, Volume 60, Number 2, June 2008, pp. 303-307 (article) Published by The Johns Hopkins University Press
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Ramirez, Renya K. "Race, Tribal Nation, and Gender: A Native Feminist Approach to Belonging, Meridians, Volume 7, Number 2, (2007), pp. 22-40 Published by Indiana University Press
  3. "Who Is Your Mother? Red Roots of White Feminism | Paula Gunn Allen (1986)". Retrieved 2016-04-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 Shanley, Kate. 1984. "Thoughts on Indian Feminism." In A Gathering of Spirit: Writing and Art by North American Indian Women, edited by Beth Brant. Rockland, ME: Sinister Wisdom Books.
  5. Ecohawk, Crystal, "Reflections on Sovereignty," Indigenous Women 3, No 1 (1999) pp. 21-22