May 8, 2023
Indigenous Justice and Gender edited by Marianne O. Nielsen and Karen Jarratt-Snider offers a broad overview of topics pertaining to gender-related health, violence, and healing. Employing a strength-based approach (as opposed to a deficit model), the chapters address the resiliency of Indigenous women and two-spirit people in the face of colonial violence and structural racism.
The book centers the concept of “rematriation”—the concerted effort to place power, peace, and decision making back into the female space, land, body, and sovereignty—as a decolonial practice to combat injustice. Chapters include such topics as reproductive health, diabetes, missing and murdered Indigenous women, Indigenous women in the academy, and Indigenous women and food sovereignty.
As part of the Indigenous Justice series, this book provides an overview of the topic, geared toward undergraduate and graduate classes. Below read an excerpt from the editors’ Introduction to book.
There is, contemporarily, a resurgence of Indigenous voice, Indigenous sovereignty, and Indigenous rights. At the heart of these movements we see, hear, and feel the power of Indigenous womxn (explanation of term to follow). While Indigenous womxn’s agency is not new by any means, the collective acts to dehumanize and marginalize Indigenous womxn through reproductive injustice, patriarchy, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) and much more, has altered the Indigenous female space. While both historical repercussions and contemporary measures continue to commit offenses against the Indigenous female rights to body, land, and sovereignty, Indigenous rematriation is occurring within both rural and urban Indigenous communities and places around the globe. Rematriation is a “spiritually conscious movement led by Indigenous women” and embodies “the act or process of returning the sacred to the Mother” (https:// rematriation.com/). While the term “repatriation” is often utilized when referring to decolonization and the return of stolen items and/or remains to Indigenous communities, the root word “patriation” remains tied to the colonial, patriarchal context.
Rematriation is a concerted effort that places power, peace, and decision-making back into the female space, land, body, and sovereignty. While this book unearths the political, physical, emotional, and spiritual injustices forced upon Indigenous womxn, it more importantly exemplifies the abundance of Indigenous female movements and resilience. Rematriation is a justice movement for not merely Indigenous womxn but their children, communities, lands, health, reproduction, education, and basic human rights. In this book, we focus on the intersectionality of the Indigenous womxn’s experiences and how the interconnected nature of injustices against Indigenous womxn has in turn initiated an abundance of Indigenous people choosing to heal together. Our work is inspired by Indigenous grandmothers and is intentional with the abundant and bright futures of our daughters and granddaughters in mind.
In this book we use the terms American Indian, Native American, Indigenous, and First Nations to represent the original inhabitants of a certain space and land. Whenever possible we refer to people as from their respective Nations, tribes, clans, and communities. Similarly, for this introduction, we utilize the term “womxn” to represent the inclusivity of our LGBTQ+ and two-spirit community members. Because the term is relatively new, readers will notice not all contributing authors use it throughout the volume. We use it for inclusivity, with the intent of helping to de-marginalize those who have experienced marginalization for so long. This book is a concerted effort to personalize the Indigenous womxn’s experience and normalize the sustainable impacts and sovereign efforts Indigenous womxn are making within their respective communities and around the globe. Contemporary injustices geared toward Indigenous womxn are continuing impacts of colonization processes, such as assimilation, forced removal of children to boarding schools, and involuntary sterilization of womxn (Robyn 2018; Torpy 2000; Government Accounting Office 1976, and others) that disrupted the sacredness of Indigenous womxn within their communities.
Rather than focusing on dehumanizing Indigenous womxn through a “deficit” model or approach, we employ a more empowered approach that focuses on the strength and resilience of Indigenous womxn. In contrast, the “deficit” view picks out the perceived pathologies and reinforces the stereotypes and colonially based myths about Indigenous Peoples and their communities. As Coates (2004, 20) describes, the colonizers are on “a death watch” in that they expect Indigenous cultures to succumb to the inevitability of European strength. The deficit model, then, fails to accurately portray the actual situations of Indigenous Peoples. As Coates observed,
peoples as diverse as the Inuit and Maori, Chittagong Hill Tribes and Navajo, Sami and Mohawk have faced and survived the multiple forces of colonization. They changed, adapted, resisted, protested, accommodated, and otherwise responded to a series of efforts to undercut, undermine, and(Coates 2004, 22)
disrupt their societies. Yet, to a degree that the contemporary rhetoric about colonization does not fully explain, the indigenous peoples remember their central stories and customs, retain centuries-old value systems, and continue to respect and understand the land and resources of their people. To
a much greater degree than most outsiders recognize, long standing family and community relationships remain pivotal in their lives. Even in highly developed industrial countries, indigenous societies are not dead—and in most cases are not even dying.
The deficit model ignores Indigenous Peoples’ strengths and their very survivance. The social justice issues that arise out of colonialism, however, are difficult to discuss without falling into an insidious form of structural racism. Criminologists, sociologists, and other scholars have used this paradigm in conducting research and in teaching students. Social workers, criminal justice personnel, public health workers, and other service providers (many taught by these same academics) also have been making
this error for years, which in turn appears in their reporting, analyses, and acting upon these issues in such ways that reinforce perceptions of Indigenous clients and their communities as “less than.”
Mary Jo Tippeconnic Fox
Brooke de Heer
Lomayumtewa K. Ishii
Lynn C. Jones
Marianne O. Nielsen
Linda M. Robyn
Melinda S. Smith