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Métis is a French term referring to children of ethnically mixed unions. In North America, Métis (with capitalization) are members of ethnic groups indigenous to Canada and parts of the United States who trace their descent to Indigenous peoples of the Americas and French , English, and Scottish. The Métis in Canada are recognized as indigenous people under the Constitution Act of 1982; they number 451,795 as of 2011. Smaller communities identifying as Métis exist in the U.S.
The word "métis" (originally from the French adjective métis: 1. something that is half of one thing and half of another, and 2. someone whose father and mother are of different races, or mixed-race):1080 was first used in Europe in the early 1600s, with the spelling "mestis," and it appeared in a Portuguese publication in 1615, spelled "métice," in both cases referring to the children of mixed unions between Europeans and indigenous peoples in colonies worldwide. The term has since been used in the French language to refer to people with ethnically mixed ancestry. People who may be identified as "métis" live in many former French colonies today, including Guadeloupe in the Caribbean; sub-Saharan African countries like Senegal; North African Maghreb countries such as Algeria; and South-East Asian countries that were once part of French "Indochina".
In Latin America, a similar word is mestizo in Spanish-speaking countries, and in Portuguese-speaking countries, mestiço is also used. The English word mestee is a corruption of the Middle French mestis (the letters 's' both pronounced at the start of the Middle French period, and both silent at the end of the Middle French period).
It has also been used to refer to people of mixed race born generally to indigenous women and French men in New France and La Louisiane. The Métis in Canada married within their own group, and over time, created a distinct culture of their own.
The term mestee was widely used in the antebellum United States for mixed-race individuals, according to Jack D. Forbes, used for people of European and Native American ancestry, as well as European and African, or tri-racial. In the 19th century, the census takers recorded people of color as mulatto, also meaning mixed race. In former French colonies, a group known as free people of color had developed from unions between African or mixed-race women and French male colonists; often the men freed their children.
After the Civil War, the term "mestee" gradually fell into disuse when the millions of slaves were made freedmen. As Americans worked to re-establish the unification of the country during and after Reconstruction, they passed laws after the turn of the 20th century to enforce the "one-drop rule." By this anyone with any known Sub-Saharan African ancestry was legally "Black", a more restrictive definition than had previously operated in the South, especially on the frontier. Native American scholar Jack D. Forbes has attempted to revive "mestee" as a term for the mixed-race peoples established as free before the Civil War.
Worldwide, the word has been adapted since the early 20th century for a number of purposes. "Metisaje" was used from the 1920s to the 1960s in some Latin American countries to indicate cultural hybridity, and at times to invoke a nationalist sentiment. Cultural "Hybridity" theorists have used the term "métissage" to examine postcolonial themes, including Françoise Lionnet. Creolité is a cultural and literary movement that has common threads with "métis" identity, and has been a counterpoint to the Négritude movement, although it has also been used to indicate "race and gender specific" themes as well.
Métis people in Canada
The specific meaning of Métis in Canada varies depending on context. The Canadian Encyclopedia indicates that there is no complete consensus as on the definition of Métis in Canada. It uses the following definition:
It is important to define specific meanings for the term as used in this discussion, while cautioning that writers past and present have not achieved consensus on the matter. Written with a small m, métis is an old French word meaning "mixed", and it is used here in a general sense for people of dual Indian-White ancestry. Capitalized, Métis is often used but not universally accepted as a generic term for all persons of this biracial descent. It may variously refer to a distinctive socio cultural heritage, a means of ethnic self-identification, and sometimes a political and legal category, more or less narrowly defined.
History of Métis in Canada
The Métis people's history begins in the 17th century with the unions of various French colonists, typically trappers and traders, and Algonquian women, including but not limited to Mi'kmaq, Algonquin, Ojibwe, and Cree peoples. These unions began in the east, extending from the Atlantic coast to the Great Lakes. The fur trade and colonial development drew French voyageurs and coureurs de bois to the west, along with the later Hudson's Bay Company employees. Wintering partners of the fur trading companies typically took country wives for their months away from the eastern cities.
After the fall of New France in 1763, many Métis populations continued to establish themselves, often specializing in the fur trade and related hunting. Some served as interpreters as they often were fluent in both indigenous and European languages. English and Scottish traders also married indigenous women, often the daughters of high-ranking chiefs, forming an elite mixed society. As the eighteenth century ended, the fur trade moved westwards into the Plains. In 1812, Cuthbert Grant led a battle in the Pemmican War, flying the Métis flag. Many treaties throughout Canada were being negotiated in the nineteenth century, including in Ontario with the Robinson–Huron treaty. In 1870 the Métis at Red River, led by Louis Riel, resisted the colonial efforts of Canada, and negotiated entry into Canada as the province of Manitoba with promises to protect their rights. In 1885, the Métis were resisting Canadian colonialism with the Northwest Rebellion. The Métis were defeated and Riel was hanged as a traitor to Canada, but his role in history is controversial.
Métis in the western provinces faced scrip after 1885, and many were considered 'Road Allowance people'.[clarification needed] Racism towards Métis peoples in the west was a large part of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In the east, many Métis continued to live their lifestyles and were often considered invisible.
In 1982, Métis were included as indigenous people in the Canadian constitution. They are defined as an ethnic group with their own culture, distinct from First Nations and Inuit peoples. Métis peoples have formed a variety of political organizations to promote their interests, including the Métis National Council (MNC), the Canadian Métis Council (CMC), the Métis Federation of Canada (MFC) and the Métis Nation of Canada to name a few.
In 2003, the R. v. Powley 2003 SCC 43 ruled that a family of Métis people in Ontario had the right to hunt moose as part of their Métis aboriginal rights. This case was funded by the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO), a provincial affiliate of the MNC. The case established the Métis history in Ontario, which was long debated by many people. The case also established the Powley test, which helps to define who is Métis, and therefore eligible to rights as an aboriginal person.
On April 14, 2016, the Supreme Court in Daniels v Canada (Indian Affairs and Northern Development) 2016 SCC 12 reached a landmark decision giving full indigenous rights to approximately 700,000 Métis.
Métis people in the United States
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Métis people in French Indochina
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During the colonial period of French Indochina, unions formed between French colonials and the "Indochinese." From these unions hundreds of Franco-Vietnamese children were born.  These ethnically mixed children were called métis in French, tay lai in Vietnamese, luk khrung in Lao and Eurasian in English.
From 1890 to 1956, French colonial "Protection" agencies would scour the countryside for these mixed-race children, take them away from their mothers and put them in orphanages out of fear the children would otherwise become deviant.
- "Indochina War – Historical Dictionary – Métis". http://indochine.uqam.ca/. Retrieved July 13, 2017. External link in
- 2011 National Household Survey: Aboriginal Peoples in Canada: First Nations People, Métis and Inuit
- Peterson, Jacqueline; Brown, Jennifer S. H. (2001) "Introduction". In The New Peoples: Being and Becoming Métis in North America, pp. 3–18. Minnesota Historical Society Press. ISBN 0873514084.
- Robert, Paul (1973). Dictionnaire alphabétique et analogique de la langue française. Paris: Dictionnaire LE ROBERT. ISBN 978-2-321-00858-3.
- Ortolang. Centre National de Ressources Textuelles et Lexicales http://www.cnrtl.fr/etymologie/métis. Retrieved July 17, 2017. Missing or empty
- James Alexander, Simone A. (2001). Mother Imagery in the Novels of Afro-Caribbean Women. University of Missouri Press. pp. 14–5. ISBN 082626316X.
- Jones, Hilary (2013). The Métis of Senegal: Urban Life and Politics in French West Africa. Indiana University Press. p. 296. ISBN 0253007054.
- Lorcin, Patricia M. E. (2006). Algeria & France, 1800–2000: Identity, Memory, Nostalgia. Syracuse University Press. pp. 80–1. ISBN 0815630743.
- Robson, Kathryn and Jennifer Yee (2005). France and "Indochina": Cultural Representations. Lexington Books. pp. 210–1. ISBN 0739108409.
- Forbes, Jack (1993). Africans and Native Americans: The Language of Race and the Evolution of Red-Black Peoples. ISBN 978-0-252-06321-3.
- Acheraïou, A (2011). Questioning Hybridity, Postcolonialism and Globalization. Springer. pp. 139–40. ISBN 0230305245.
- "Hybridity in Contemporary Postcolonial Theory" (PDF). State University of New York Press, Albany, 2007. Retrieved July 17, 2017.
- James Alexander, Simone A. (2001). Mother Imagery in the Novels of Afro-Caribbean Women. University of Missouri Press. pp. 15–6. ISBN 082626316X.
- Jennifer S.H. Brown. "Métis". The Canadian Encyclopedia. online version. Historica Foundation. Retrieved October 31, 2012.
- Firpo, Christina (2010). "CRISES OF WHITENESS AND EMPIRE IN COLONIAL INDOCHINA: THE REMOVAL OF ABANDONED EURASIAN CHILDREN FROM THE VIETNAMESE MILIEU, 1890–1956.". Journal of Social History. 43 (3): 587–613. Retrieved July 13, 2917. Check date values in:
- Barkwell, Lawrence J.; Dorion, Leah; Hourie, Audreen (2006). "Métis legacy Michif culture, heritage, and folkways". Métis legacy series. 2. Saskatoon: Gabriel Dumont Institute. ISBN 0-920915-80-9.
- Barkwell, Lawrence J.; Dorion, Leah; Prefontaine, Darren (2001). Métis Legacy: A Historiography and Annotated Bibliography. Winnipeg: Pemmican Publications Inc. and Saskatoon: Gabriel Dumont Institute. ISBN 1-894717-03-1.
- The Rupertsland Institute (Alberta) – A service dedicated to the research and development, education, and training and employment of Metis individuals. It is affiliated with the Metis Nations of Alberta. Along with providing financial aid, the Rupertsland Institute helps Metis individuals acquire essential skills for employment.