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

  • Author / Creator
    Snyder, Emily
  • 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.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2014
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.