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Hypatia 18.2 (2003) ix-xx

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Indigenous Women in the Americas

Anne Waters

I anticipate that this volume will nourish discussions in Native American, Indigenous, and Women's Studies, as well as in interdisciplinary courses. In respecting all of our relations, we present this journal in the spirit of healing the earth.

Several themes arise in this anthology. First is the need to coalition with ecofeminists in struggle against ecocide of our planet earth. Already at least one tribe has had to move from its homeland in the Northwest due to global warming. Traditional sources of sustainability are removed from our communities as businesses move in to pollute and/or control resources needed for sustainability.

The second theme is the incredible violence committed against Native women in the name of a continuing manifest destiny. Internalized oppression, violence turned against oneself, is devastating our communities as elders and youth stand by and watch generations of our people get lost in the confusion of cultural dissonance. The government interjecting alcohol and drugs into our poor communities has increased the level of violence. This violence gets turned inward because of the severe repercussions of turning it against the colonial culture. Although not much is mentioned about urban Indians and the need to desert our homelands for the cities in order to survive, this is also violence against our communities. "Return Home" needs to be heard by our young people in the cities, and spaces made for their entry within our communities when they return.

A third theme is the overlapping of racism, sexism, and capitalism to create an imperial system of domination over the earth's resources. Feminist discourse has not yet evolved to consider the effect of these intersections on women who are not of color. Just as racism, sexism, and capitalism affect us all, so also the intersections of these subordinations affect all of us, and women of both color and noncolor engage in daily practices to either support or deconstruct these power systems. Without analyzing how intersectionality works in women's lives, the feminist movement cannot struggle against this dimension of subordination.

Fourth, there is a need to heal ourselves and our communities. The call to know and learn from our elders the traditional understandings of our relations with all things of the universe, and how sustainable cultures may be able to offer [End Page ix] an alternative to capitalism, remains a challenge. We must understand the need and the ways to balance ourselves with all of our relations to stop the subjugation of earth's resources, so that the "age of global imperialism" will hopefully one day be a thing of history, or at least a thing of the past in the Americas.

In the first paper, "Gender, Race, and the Regulation of Native Identity in Canada and the United States," Bonita Lawrencetestifies to the struggles of Native people in North America against control and domination by the federal governments of Canada and the United States. Lawrence maps out the legal rhetoric used to maintain low numbers of Native people and to disenfranchise Native people from both government and tribal benefits.

Lawrence uses the context and language of decolonization in her analysis to re-member Native identity. She points out the effects of marriage and blood quantum laws placed upon Native communities by both the United States and Canada. These factors have rendered traditional articulations of Native identity almost moot in legal arenas. Traditionally, she tells us, to identify as Indian is to identify with land and community in a way that brings about unique responsibilities to all our relations.

Historical realities have shifted from open warfare against indigenous people to a denial of sovereign powers, particularly in relation to states and provinces, in order to control land and resources. The historic legal record marks each step of a long struggle to attain access and self-determination over our communities, economic enterprises, and landbase resources. Lawrence reminds us that land allotments in the United States were intended to break up communally held tribal landbases, and free up land for non Indians...


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pp. ix-xx
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Archived 2009
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