What is the reality of Native American women’s religious experience?
According to being a successful woman was characterized by struggle. Women who were successful in terms of self-expression and creative fulfilment were considered as unusual and therefore had to face criticism from the society. It is this point of view from the society that made Sor Juana emphasize on the idea of women equality on the society. The work of Divine Narcissus shows feminine resistance over male domination. The native inhabitants fight for freedom of choice. One of the actors, Religion, is portrayed as a woman who is scorned by America for being confused and crazy to an extent of her words being disregarded. This act makes the Native American Women fight for their place in religion. The Native American Women fought against inequality in the religious world. Women united to overcome male domination. The alliances by indigenous women regardless of their ethnic distinctions, showed their willingness to participate in the colonial church.
The women experienced instances of discrimination that fuelled them to fight against it and ended up being the majority in the church. In Catalina de Erauso, it is clear that Native American Women had to fight to remain relevant in the society. The lieutenant nun struggled to be accepted in the society where she had to dress like a man and attend to responsibilities that were attended to by men. She shows the strength of women by taking up the responsibilities. Her memoir shows the importance of treating the Native American women with equality. The equality that the Divine Narcissus fights for. The Native American Women had a great membership in the church, and played an important role in the diffusion of religious values. They were contributed in religious activities in colonial institutions where there were missionary settlements, in churches, in schools, and in convents. Apart from being active church members, the women looked forward to being role models in the society. The women were characterized by the desire to grow out of the structures of inequality by converting into being Christians.
The experience of Native American Women in respect to how spirituality is used in empowering or disempowering women is different from Christian women. For the Native American Women, being spiritually strong was considered an unusual character that led the society to treat a woman as inferior. This made women to defend their rights in the society by uniting and participating in the church to fight against male domination. For the Christian women, most churches give women a chance to lead in the same positions with women. Although not all churches give women such opportunities, the Native American women faced more opposition in taking up front positions compared to Christian women. As expressed in the Divine Narcissus, fight for women equality was key in response to increased male domination. Even with the people trying to annihilate the religious views, the Native American women had the zeal to fight for their rights and views in the society.
The Native American opted to convert to Christianity instead of fighting the hegemonic culture where they interacted with Christian women and joined hands in fighting for their rights. Within the colonial era the Native American women experienced rejection and in equality and not even their zeal to fight against the inequality managed to have them overcome the culture as indicated by Smith in the “Heteropatriarchy & Three Pillars” and the Response from Native American Women”. This made them consider converting into Christianity where they managed to join hands with the Christian women and have their place established in the society. The Native American women who converted to Christianity had undergone same experiences and had opportunities in the colonial religious spaces and had a strong commitment as expressed by Talamante in “In Our Own Voices”. When they joined with the Christian women, they were able to redefine their roles in the society.
In Our Own Voices, chapter 9, “Seeing Red” by Ines Talamante
Andrea Smith, “Heteropatriarchy & Three Pillars” and the Response from Native American Women
Sor Juana, Response, poems, Divine Narcissus
Catalina de Erauso, Lieutenant Nun