'Ethnic’ Assimilates ‘Indigenous’: A Study in Intellectual Neo-Colonialism


This article discusses the marginalization that happens when Native Studies is subsumed within the department of Ethnic Studies, as opposed to being its own department. For Wheeler, this is not necessarily intentional every time, but often results in the corrosion of a robust, analytical “understanding of difference,” an important distinction to recognize. Wheeler asserts that this illustrates “contemporary intellectual neo-colonialism” which homogenizes First Nations, Inuit, and Métis cultures and histories; this neo-colonialism fails to recognize the established Nations, governments, and territories as Indigenous inhabitants prior to European colonization. Wheeler notes the rise of the Third World Movement in the 1960s linked international colonialism to internal colonialism and its relation to establishing departments and centers dedicated to studying racial and cultural minorities. Wheeler demonstrates that internal neo-colonialism has unique outcomes for Indigenous peoples; evident in socioeconomic inequities such as over-incarceration, mortality rates, and employment.


Publication Information

Wheeler, Winona. "Ethnic’ Assimilates ‘Indigenous’: A Study in Intellectual Neo-Colonialism.” Wicazo Sa (Red Pencil) Review 13, 1 (1998): 43-74.

Wheeler, Winona
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