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Representations of Women in Cree Legal Educational Materials: An Indigenous Feminist Legal Theoretical Analysis Open Access


Other title
Legal Education
Indigenous Feminism
Cree Law
Indigenous Feminist Legal Theory
Indigenous Law
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Snyder, Emily
Supervisor and department
Gotell, Lise (Women's and Gender Studies; Adjunct in Sociology)
Napoleon, Val (Law; Adjunct with the University of Alberta)
Examining committee member and department
Meagher, Michelle (Women's and Gender Studies; Adjunct in Sociology)
Altamirano-Jimenez, Isabel (Native Studies and Political Science)
Corntassel, Jeff (Indigenous Governance)
Department of Sociology

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Indigenous laws are complexly gendered yet there is a lack of research on this subject. As the field of indigenous law is growing, and as indigenous laws are being revitalized, it is crucial that gender analyses be included given that law and decolonization politics are not disconnected from broader social dynamics. In this dissertation, I engage in a discussion about the possibilities and challenges relating to research on indigenous laws and gender by examining Cree legal educational materials. This study focuses on: 1) how the educational materials, which are meant to advocate empowerment of Cree people and laws, represent Cree women as legal agents, and 2) whether and how indigenous feminist legal theory and methodology facilitate this research. Indigenous feminist legal theory provides an analytic tool that is attentive to gendered power dynamics in indigenous laws. This theoretical approach informs indigenous feminist legal methodology, which is used to examine discourse and representations. These theoretical and methodological approaches have not yet been articulated and I demonstrate that they are vital tools for anti-oppressive interpretations of law. My research shows that Cree women are represented in limited ways in the educational materials – first, through the absence of women, and second, through limited representations which include women only in relation to traditional gender roles and ‘women’s issues.’ Indigenous feminist legal analysis necessitates moving beyond these tendencies and aims to work with tensions as they arise in my analysis. The educational materials most often present Cree law in aesthetically pleasing ways, and indigenous feminist legal analysis demands more difficult aesthetics. While it is important to examine how and why these representations are being positively deployed, it is also crucial to examine what is lost when gendered realities are absent or erased. For Cree women to be represented as complex legal agents, Cree law and revitalization need to be gendered in the educational materials, and beyond. Indigenous feminist legal analysis encourages scholarship on indigenous laws that treats Cree law (and other indigenous legal orders) as a living intellectual and practical resource that can be critically engaged with to discuss and challenge gendered conflict.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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