Warrior Women: Indigenous Women Share Their Stories of Strength and Agency




Klaws, Diane Frances

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Indigenous women who are single parents and who have had involvement with social services such as child welfare or social assistance have had to be strong and courageous to maneuver through these large institutions. Over the course of this research, I examined the concept of strength by asking the question “how do Indigenous women perceive their own strengths". This research is grounded in Indigenous methodologies through the worldview that all things are interconnected, all people and things have a soul, and that we have a physical effect on our surroundings as our surroundings affect us. The focus of my research interest is to gain a better understanding of Indigenous women’s strengths through their own lived knowledge and by contextualizing it within the experiences of oppression that they have had as a result of colonization. I undertake a literature review as well as field research to address my research question. For my field research I ask one simple question with probes to better understand their view of the strengths they possess: “Tell me your life story beginning with your earliest memories”. I use the research methodology of storytelling. Storytelling is another form of narrative methodology. Storytelling is about sharing stories from the past and present. To hear stories from the past is vital to our understanding of who we are as Indigenous people as this is how we learn where we come from and who we are. Storytelling is essential to re-claiming our histories. Data was collected from three Indigenous women who I interviewed twice. Two themes emerged from analyzing the data. One theme was oppressions and within the theme of oppressions emerged: assimilation, loss of traditional gender roles in the family, financial systemic oppression, physical and sexual abuses, and addictions. The second theme was strengths. The themes that emerged within strengths were: women being active and having agency, women as protectors of family and community, reconnecting with Spirit – Soul work, and women as keepers of tradition. Indigenous women’s voices and their experiences must continue to be researched and included in today’s education.



Indigenous Women, how do Indigenous women perceive their own strengths, methodology of storytelling, oppression