Education: Cultural Hegemony and Critical Consciousness

Colonialism, Neo-colonialism & Post-colonialism

Colonialism is the practice of establishing territorial dominion over a colony by an outside political power characterized by exploitation, expansion, and maintenance of that territory. It is the process of extending rights or retaining authority over people or territories.

Neo-colonialism is the use of political, cultural, or other pressures to control a certain people. 

Many European settlers inhabited Ojibwe land after signing a treaty for fur trade with the Native people. This is an example of colonization as the Europeans use force to establish territorial dominion over the Ojibwe and other indigenous nations.

A timeline of colonizing events shows

  • In 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act, requiring tribes to leave Wisconsin.
  • By 1850, President Taylor enacted removal policies, sending 300 men, women and children on a journey back to their original Wisconsin homes.
  • A total of 400 Native Americans were said to have died in this one of many colonizing operations in which the Federal government exploited Native people in the name of American expansionism. Native populations were disbanded and kill if they resisted.
  • The Wisconsin instance was later called “The Sandy Lake Tragedy”

In Lac Du Flambeau, there is a constant battle against the cultural hegemony and colonialism with which white settlers have attempted to control people confined to the Indian Reservation.

The Cultural Connections class at the public school attempts to support students in developing critical consciousness of their history and culture. Staff work to revive Ojibwe culture by pushing back on the administration and the current colonialism within the reservation.

Past & Present Examples of Colonialism at Lac Du Flambeau

Residential Schools and other schools during the first years of the expansion of the United States of America were used to try and domesticate Native Americans to conform to white people’s ways.

They tried to teach Native Americans Christianity hoping it would lead them to become more like the white man. They went so far as to take children from their families to remove their roots and history from causing distractions.

The people in charge of these schools thought this was the best way to create relations with the Native American tribes and possibly even give them ways to control the tribes.

The current political control over Indian spearing and hunting rights. Something that the government tried to take away from them, but they stood their ground.

As a result of historical stereotyping, white supremacy, and racial hatred, fueled by historical narratives they have been taught, many white people in the area are against allowing Native people to fulfill their rights. The spearing conflict is an example of Neocolonialism.

Neocolonialism, which is a “new kind of colonialism” where a country takes control without using force, like violence or military means. It occurs when cultural forces, like capitalism and globalization take control over a less powerful country.

Upon the death of a tribe member, a non-Native family purchased the island for summer camping and vacations.

This is an example of neo-colonialism because this territory was exploited through non-violent means, using money as a persuasion tactic.

After World War II, poverty drove many Ojibwe off reservations to find work.

The Volunteer Relocation Program-instituted by federal government sought to move Indian people off reservations. Government provided money for Native people to live off their reservations.

This is an example of neo-colonialism as the government is persuading Native people to assimilate into the dominant culture by offering money.

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