Iskwekwak--Kah' Ki Yaw Ni Wahkomakanak : neither Indian princesses nor squaw drudges
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This thesis works towards deconstructing stereotypical images of Indigenous women that frequent the pages of popular literature. It calls attention to the ideological foundation of Euro-Canadian literature, which is informed by a White-christian-patriarchy. That literature, as an institution of the Euro-Canadian nation, propagates images of Indigenous women as Indian princesses, squaw drudges, suffering helpless victims, tawny temptresses, and loose squaws. Consequently, Euro-Canadian literature imprisons us in images that foster both racist and sexist stereotypes and that encourage violence against us. Margaret Laurence's short story "The Loons" and William Patrick Kinsella's "Linda Star" provide illuminating examples of some of those images. While these writers do not represent all non-Indigenous people who write about Indigenous women, both of these writers are extremely popular Canadian writers whose stories are often read in elementary schools, high schools, and universities. At the centre of this thesis is Maria Campbell's semi-autobiographical Halfbreed. Campbell's Halfbreed significantly challenges Euro-Canadian literature's White-christian-patriarchal ideology by contextualizing the narrative in an Indigenous-gynocratic ideology. Her book destabilized White-Euro-Canadian liberals' complacency when, as an indigenous woman, Campbell named Euro-Canadians oppressors and identified Euro-Canadian power structures that illegally, unjustly, and intolerably imposed on her people's way of life. This thesis concludes that Campbell's Halfbreed encouraged many Indigenous people to appropriate the White-Euro-Canadian colonizer's English language to write ourselves out of oppression by re-claiming our self--which is ideologically rooted in autochthonous and gynocratic cultures.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
Copyright DateSeptember 1992
native peoples in popular literature