The struggle to reject the psychology of colonialism
One of the major problems facing the Metis Nation is that of the effects of colonialism, which has led to a colonial mentality.
A colonial mentality is the internalized attitude of ethnic or cultural inferiority felt by a people as a result of colonization. It corresponds with the belief that the cultural values of the colonizer are inherently superior to one's own, or that there is shame to expressing ones culture or true self – leading to a propensity to try to hide (or downplay) these differences.
This colonial mentality is apparent in how many people of native or Metis descent hid their identity, language, and culture, and/or withheld knowledge of it from their children during much of the 20th century. This has led to great confusion, especially among the Metis people, many of who assimilated and adopted the overall mentality of their colonizers in order to make life easier for themselves and their offspring in a racist and colonial world.
Even today, as many people are finding and reclaiming their true heritage as indigenous people, the colonial mentality is in effect and is affecting the Metis Nation. As a result, many Metis came to view their own traditional culture and identity through the lens of colonial prejudices, many people of Metis heritage have internalized the institutionalized, racist culture of their colonizers; dismissing their own indigenous native roots as backwards, and something to be ashamed of.
Because of this, some Metis people – while embracing the mixed nature of their heritage on the surface – harbor an insidious need to differentiate themselves from other indigenous people by clinging to the European colonial side of their heritage to provide a psychological ‘buffer’ against people they have been taught are inferior to the colonialists. Due to this internalized colonial affinity, many people discount the wisdom and beauty of their own indigenous ancestors, seeing the ways of the colonizers as inherently superior, therefore making themselves superior by proxy. Unfortunately, when we believe in their superiority, our motivation to fight for our own liberation is splintered and our ability to engage in self-determination is affected.
Working toward decolonization requires us to consciously assess how our minds have been affected by colonization. Only then can we take those actions needed to reject the colonial programming with which we have been indoctrinated. We also need to assess the claims of colonial society regarding its superiority over our indigenous ways. When we regain a belief in the wisdom and beauty of our indigenous selves and reject the colonial lies that have inundated us and affected us for generations, we can finally release our true identity and liberate ourselves from the effects of colonization.
A collaborative effort of members of the Ojibwe and Metis communities