Being A ‘Good’ Girl: Crafting Gender in Indian Residential Schools

Author(s): Sandie Dielissen

Year: 2014


There is a growing interest in exploring the feminine and sexual attributes of colonialism, particularly in an effort to unravel the often hidden, complex, and contradictory history of Aboriginal women’s lives during colonization. Institutions such as the Indian residential schools shaped the lives of Aboriginal girls by embedding western ideals of femininity in habitus. 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. This poster introduces how emphasis on the materiality of residential schools changed notions of femininity among Aboriginal girls. Specifically, this research examines customary gender roles and identities of Aboriginal girls and women, including alternative identities (eg. manly-hearted women and two-spirited) to understand how gender was created and shaped through the Christian-run Indian residential schools, transforming Aboriginal girls into ‘good’ girls and ‘proper’ womanhood.

Cite this Record

Being A ‘Good’ Girl: Crafting Gender in Indian Residential Schools. Sandie Dielissen. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 437402)

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Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): POS-98,24