Gender Roles In The Chippewa Indians

953 Words 4 Pages
Historically, the Chippewa Indians placed their male and female members in rigid, gender-specific roles; the men were warriors and protectors, leaving their families to hunt and go to war, while the women tended to hearth and home, raising the children, caring for the home, and planting and harvesting the food they were also responsible for preparing. As this was once also the typical attitude towards gender roles in European-American families, it would seem that the two worlds would naturally blend and accept each other. However, as was typical with most circumstances regarding Native Americans, they were perceived as lazy, ignorant, heathens requiring conversion to Christianity, yet in reality they passed down values of generosity, strength, …show more content…
Her story unfolds beginning with “Saint Marie” which demonstrates her assimilation attempt and mission to find love and acceptance, as she seeks to embrace her light skin and limited Indian blood. Entering the Sacred Heart Convent, she wishes to “pray as good as they could” and become “a saint they’d have to kneel to” (43). Unfortunately, Sister Leopolda, the women that taught and took in Marie, could only see the perceived Indian weakness and evil in Marie’s soul. “She always said the Dark One wanted me most of all, and I believed this…I had confidence in Leopolda. She was the only one of the bunch he even noticed” (46). Using pain and torture in her efforts to rid Marie of her inner evil, backfires on Sister Leopolda, when she pushes Marie to her breaking point. In running away from the convent, Marie runs straight into the arms of Nector Kashpaw, in “Wild Geese”. He views her initially as “a skinny white girl from a family so low you cannot even think they are in the same class as Kashpaws” (63), but after their confrontation as “a wounded animal that hasn’t died well, or worse, it’s still living, so that I have to put it out of its misery” (63). Marie continues to thrive, and in spite of Nector’s infatuation with Lulu Nanapush, he ultimately marries Marie, and they have five children. These life disappointments could easily have destroyed Marie’s inner strength, however, she remained true to her generous and enduring spirit, taking in both June, and, years later, her son. She knows doing so would create greater hardship for her, with numerous mouths she already couldn’t properly feed, yet did so and soon loved her completely, “It wasn’t long before I would want to hold her against me tighter than any of the others” (86). Her strength perseveres, and eventually earns her the respect of her mother-in-law, Rushes Bear, as expressed when disowning her son, in

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