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The role of property in gender diversity among the Indigenous societies in North America

Faculty Advisor




Indigenous societies, Two-Spirit identities, property ownership, colonialism, North America

Abstract (summary)

This study explores the relationship between Indigenous gender diversity, namely Two-Spirit identities, and property ownership and understandings of the land in Indigenous communities in North America, as compared to that of Western colonial ideology. As a society's economic structure can be understood by studying its mode of production and whether property is seen as private or communal, I consider the influence of economic structures in Indigenous gender diversity: If pre-colonial Indigenous societies were inclusive of all genders, then is the absence of private property ownership in these Indigenous societies one of the reasons for their inclusive and equal societies? Along with the harsh socio-cultural changes brought on by colonial assimilationist policies, Indigenous economies and modes of production were also drastically altered under colonization. Accompanying these Western economic influences was a colonial emphasis on patriarchy and cisheteronormativity, which negatively impacted Indigenous non-binary gender identities, suppressing Two-Spirit identities. From an anthropological perspective, I explore these economic changes in the mode of production among various Indigenous groups in North America to reveal associated shifts in perspectives on gender diversity and Two-Spirit identities. Through a holistic lens, I discuss the role of colonial economic influences as part of the sociocultural changes to the status of Two-Spirit identities in Indigenous societies in North America.

Publication Information



Item Type

Undergraduate Thesis



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