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For other uses, see Half-Breed.
Paul Kane's oil painting "Half-Breeds Running Buffalo", depicting a Métis buffalo hunt on the prairies of Dakota in June 1846.

Half-breed is a term, now considered derogatory, used to describe anyone who is of mixed race, though it usually refers to people that are half Native American and half European or white[1]

Use by governments[edit]

In the 19th century the United States government set aside lands in the western states for people of American Indian and European or European-American ancestry known as the Half-Breed Tract. The Nemaha Half-Breed Reservation was established by the Treaty of Prairie du Chien of 1830.[2] In Article 4 of the 1823 Treaty of Fond du Lac land was granted to the "half-breeds" of Chippewa descent on the islands and shore of St. Mary's River near Sault Ste. Marie.[3]

The Canadian government used the term half-breed in the late 19th and early 20th century for people who were of mixed Aboriginal and European ancestry.[4] The North-West Half-Breed Commission established by the Canadian government after the North West Rebellion also used the term to refer to the Métis residents of the North-West Territories. In 1885 children born of Métis parents or "pure Indian and white parents" were defined as half-breed by the commission and were eligible for "Half-breed" Scrip. [5][6][7]

In popular culture[edit]

  • The villain of Mark Twain's novel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, is a Native American-European-American man named "Injun Joe"; he is referred to as a "half-breed", often together with a derogatory adjective, such as "stinking," and has a violent and homicidal personality, which is attributed to his heritage.
  • Several Western films feature characters with both White and Native American blood, who are more often than not referred to as "half-breeds" as an insult; such characters include "Keoma" from the eponymous film, and "Chato" from Chato's Land.
  • "Half-Breed" is a song recorded by Cher and released as a single in 1973. On October 6, 1973, it became Cher's second U.S. number one hit as a solo artist, and it was her second solo single to hit the top spot in Canada on the same date.[8]

Further reading[edit]

  • Hudson, Charles. Red, White, and Black: Symposium on Indians in the Old South, Southern Anthropological Society, 1971. SBN: 820303089.
  • Perdue, Theda. Mixed Blood Indians, The University of Georgia Press, 2003. ISBN 0-8203-2731-X.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]