The Métis are mixed-race people, a mixture of European and First Nations peoples.
While many nations have such mixed people, Canada is unique in the control that the Métis had over the prairies in the 19th century, and a culture that is neither Aboriginal nor European.
But, after losing a war against the Canadian federal government the Métis also lost most of their farmlands along the prairie rivers and were marginalized for more than a century. The First Nations ("Indians") ended up on reserves and the Whites got most of the good land. The Métis lived in the places in between.
It's not a big deal that a mixed-race people like the Métis survived, but it's a miracle and a blessing that the Métis culture also survived their dark ages.
The Métis now face a slow but steady recognition of their culture, not as an historical oddity, but as a living thing.
The various people involved in creating the information on this page acknowledge that it is so brief as to be inaccurate, incomplete, and misleading and reprehensible even on good days. But they hope that interested people will take the time to find out the truth from more reliable sources.
The songs that follow are the creation of Lollie "Heronfeathers" Singer and J. Trottier. Lollie admits that, while she is a mixed-race person, she has no experience of or participation in Métis culture.
The Métis In The 1800's
In the 1800s, Egerton Young, in Indian Wigwams and Northern Campfires, said, "These Métis are physically superior to their French and Indian ancestors. Victorious in every conflict, and then magnanimous to their foes, they extorted from them their respect as well as their fear."
D. Bruce Sealey, in The Métis; Canada's Forgotten People, says, "These Métis people are the true Natives of Canada. Indians and Europeans are immigrants - only the millennia separated their penetration into the New World. The meeting of the two races produced a mixture which was not from another land but whose sole roots were in the New World. Over the centuries they developed into a strong, vigorous, hybrid race that spread throughout the West and evolved into a nation."
Lollie says that we've grown past the concept that any race is superior, but J. Trottier says the compliments are welcome, considering the struggles the Métis had in the 20th century.
Lollie says, what do you expect? The whites who went to chase beaver and buffalo on the prairies were tough almost beyond modern comprehension. The First Nations individuals they met there were survivors of a series of diseases that, for the people there, were far more devastating than the Bubonic Plague had been to Europe. The product of these people were bound to be be remarkable.
As the surviving First Nations tribes were forced to sign treaties and enclosed into Reservations, the Métis took over much of the commerce and trade. Then the Canadian government decided to set its hand on the prairies, and the conflicts began.
Marie brought home a little silver bell she'd picked up in a thrift shop. Paul asked why she'd bought it - especially since it was a souvenir of Tennessee.
"Ignore the writing on it," she said. "It'll be our little bell of freedom." She set it on the TV. "It means 'I am Métis; I signed no treaty. Ever.'"
To The Songs They Made
To Songs from the Play