Ininí Ádisókán (Man Stories): Masculinities Among the Mámíwininí (Algonquin People)
This dissertation investigates the meaning and function of ‘masculinity’ among Algonquin peoples in contemporary and historical contexts in lands claimed by Canada. As an Algonquin scholar, I examine historical sources alongside interviews with other Algonquin people to consider the relationship between ‘roles,’ as discussed by the interview participants, and the erroneous identity politics and status/non-status debates emergent in Algonquin realities via the Indian Act and the current land claim process. The purpose of this study is to explore and examine modes of Algonquin masculinity and their reinvigoration alongside understandings and articulations of other Indigenous masculinities. As such, the research question is: How do Algonquin people view masculine identities among our people, and how do these identities interact with identity politics and the gendered process of settler colonialism? The response to the research question is three-fold. First, selected theoretical positions are considered as lenses of analysis for the literature and interview responses which inform the work in the dissertation. Second, the complexities of identity politics impacting Algonquin masculinities are examined. Finally, it is argued that the roles and responsibilities of Algonquin people are formative and central to modes of Algonquin masculinity. The results of this study indicate that the crucial focus of the participants on “roles” and “responsibilities” functions to liberate individual Algonquin people from the colonial (and colonizing) discourse of status/non-status by producing understandings of self-worth through ethics of behaviour rather than imposed identities. By focusing on “roles” and “responsibilities,” Algonquin individuals move away from the erroneous gender binaries that perpetuate hetero-patriarchy. It is not just those who identify as men who can take on protectorship and provision. A “role” is something you enact, you perform; “status” is something that is assigned. In this way, the discussion of Algonquin masculinities in this dissertation pushes toward greater openness at the same time that it binds understandings of ethical behaviour back to the community and to the land.