Rad Reading: Queering Resurgence: Taking on Heteropatriarchy in Indigenous Nation Building

Image is a dark blue background with white and grey swirls at the top. The white POC logo is at the bottom with a white feather on either side. A quote reads: “What difference does itmake which gender holds up the colonial system? Don’t we need individuals, communities and nations that are no longer willing to prop up an unjust system that is designed to destroy the fabric of our nations?” with Leanne Simpson, the author’s name, underneath

Image is a dark blue background with white and grey swirls at the top. The white POC logo is at the bottom with a white feather on either side. A quote reads: “What difference does itmake which gender holds up the colonial system? Don’t we need individuals, communities and nations that are no longer willing to prop up an unjust system that is designed to destroy the fabric of our nations?” with Leanne Simpson, the author’s name, underneath

In our reading of the week, Canadian feminist scholar and poet Leanne Simpson ponders how to truly address the issue of heteropatriarchy in Indigenous communities and the role queerness, gender fluidity, and self determination play in Indigenous political resurgence. (heteropatriarchy is essentially homophobia and patriarchy - which establishes the straight (white) male as the beacon and most important member of society) She argues that simply having women or queer people in positions of leadership in a tribe still upholds colonial power structures. While having women of positions of power is of course important, she argues that this shouldn’t be the end goal. She notes that Indigenous political success is often measured within a federal framework - by celebrating how many Chiefs are female, but rejecting women’s labor as educators, parents, and community leaders in other ways as success. Simpson notes that “This unrecognized labour, inspiration and unending contribution forms the backbone of our families and communities, and family and community are the backbone of our political systems.” Similarly, simply recognizing that tribes traditionally valued gender and sexuality outside of a patriarchal system does nothing if we don’t act on this and restructure our communities around these beliefs to undermine and critique colonialism.  

Like colonialism, heteropatriarchy works to separate people from their land and culture and takes away individual agency. True Indigenous community empowerment will not occur, she says, without making combatting heteropatriarchy part of our decolonialism activism.


Read it HERE! Queering Resurgence: Taking on Heteropatriarchy in Indigenous Nation Building by Leanne Simpson

Abaki Beck