The hidden voices of Nuu'Chah'Nulth women

Moore, Jacky (2013) The hidden voices of Nuu'Chah'Nulth women. Ph.D. thesis, Canterbury Christ Church University.


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The role of women among Nuu’Chah’Nulth culture has received little attention. As Perdue (1) discusses, few sources exist from the eighteenth century about the lives of Aboriginal women, and what does exist has, in the main, been written from white European and male viewpoints, obscuring women’s voices and thinking.

I will examine the roles and responsibilities of Nuu’Chah’Nulth women today and over the last two hundred years since Cook’s arrival in Nootka Sound on the west-coast of Vancouver Island, during the turbulent, colonial times of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, to the traumatic era of the lives of Nuu’Chah’Nulth women in the second half of the twentieth century, times of intense cultural change. Whilst building on the research and written observations of explorers, naturalists, fur-traders and Indian agents I hope to give a unique and complex view of how the arrival of the mamalhn’i2 affected the lives of Nuu’Chah’Nulth women, how these women adapted change to their advantage wherever possible through the inspiring words of the women themselves. Thought-provoking, in-depth interviews with thirteen Nuu’Chah’Nulth women conducted over a three year span form the heart of this thesis, adding originality to a sound historical base.

I will argue Nuu’Chah’Nulth conceptions of gender roles have persisted until the twenty-first century despite the traumatic influence of colonialism and residential schooling. Maintaining traditional gender roles has allowed Nuu’Chah’Nulth women to adapt to changing circumstances and adopt new industries and practices whilst upholding their cultural identities as First Nation women. The strengths of their traditions empowered the women to resist change, including pressure from federal government to relinquish culture and language, bringing to life women long ago consigned to the shadows of historical anonymity. Continuity and diversity mark the lives of Nuu’Chah’Nulth women, their strengths creating the values and behaviours necessary to restore balance to their families and communities.

By examining women’s role in community and family life over the last two hundred years, I will argue Nuu’Chah’Nulth women were co-equal contributors to Nuu’Chah’Nulth life, balancing the areas in which women were (and are) the anchors of their culture whilst also acknowledging their interactions with new influences from the twenty-first century.

(1) Perdue, Theda (1998) Cherokee Women: Gender and Culture Change, 1700-1835. University of
Nebraska Press, Lincoln.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: F History United States, Canada, Latin America > F1001 Canada (General) > F1060 Canadian Northwest. Northwest territories > F1086 British Columbia
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman > HQ1075 Sex role
Depositing User: Mr Andrew Hudson
Date Deposited: 29 Jul 2014 13:30
Last Modified: 21 Sep 2016 17:10

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00