Being A 'Good' Girl: Crafting Gender in Indian Residential Schools

Author(s): Sandie Dielissen

Year: 2015


As part of the project of colonialism in North America, churches and missionaries introduced their standards of childhood through the education of Aboriginal peoples. Indian residential schools determined what it meant for Aboriginal girls to become proper women. Western ideals of femininity, modelled behaviour, appearance and clothing, personal possessions, and household goods informed respectability, and Aboriginal girls were taught a Christian home life geared towards removing them from their otherwise savage, morally degraded, and uncultured behaviour. Being a ‘good’ girl was reinforced through the material culture and physical environment.  Viewed through a feminist lens, study of the material culture of these institutions provides tangible meaning to the role of education in crafting gender and re-creating identity among Aboriginal women and within Aboriginal communities. This paper explores the relationship between Aboriginal girls and the how the praxis of daily life in these institutions crafted new ideas of gender, gender roles, and gender politics.

Cite this Record

Being A 'Good' Girl: Crafting Gender in Indian Residential Schools. Sandie Dielissen. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Seattle, Washington. 2015 ( tDAR id: 434103)


Aboriginal Education Gender

Geographic Keywords
Canada North America

Temporal Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -141.003; min lat: 41.684 ; max long: -52.617; max lat: 83.113 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 572