In his , which was published originally in 1755, James Adair derided this unique political institution as a petticoat government—a direct jab, according to Paula Gunn Allen (Laguna Pueblo) at the power of the Ghigau.
Indeed, Allen argues that the honour accorded her by the Cherokee people offended the Euro-American belief in universal male dominance.
Scholar Rebecca Tsosie identifies three common characteristics: gender roles were not ranked hierarchically but rather considered to be complementary, in many cases women were able to transcend gender roles, and “the central role of Native women within their societies is often reflected in the religious or spiritual content of their cultures.” And, as scholars Shari M.
Huhndorf and Cheryl Suzack point out, “although Indigenous women do not share a single culture, they do have a common colonial history.
European men further believed that a woman should remain chaste and “virtuous,” according to their cultural and religious beliefs.
Settlers developed and held onto the mythical archetype of the virtuous Indian Princess willing to reject her own people for Christian civilization.
Indian agents had the power to act as justices of the peace or magistrates, giving them legal authority to monitor and control their Indian charges.
Any sexual relations that did not conform to monogamy in marriage were seen as un-civilized and counter to the government’s civilizing mission.
As the colonies consolidated to form the Dominion of Canada, Crown policies were created throughout the country with the goal of assimilating and “civilizing” First Nations peoples based on a European model.
These policies had profound effects on Aboriginal women across the country.