The Indians and the Metis: genealogical sources on Minnesota’s earliest settlers

The Indians and the Metis: genealogical sources on Minnesota’s earliest settlers

Minnesota History Magazine
Volume 46, Number 7 (Fall 1979)
pages 286-296

Virginia Rogers

Editors Preface

GENEALOGISTS have long hesitated to do research on Minnesota’s Indian and métis or mixed-blood population. The fact that Indian and related métis peoples participated in a largely ond culture may have convinced them that few sources were available. Even historians, although aware of the existing sources, have shunned a study which appeared to them to have little value for the writing of general history. In spite of such common prejudices, institutions like the Minnesota Historical Society for a long time have been accumulating resources of real value in genealogical studies of Indians and métis.

What written records are available on people who left few written records of their own? What are the specific problems involved in doing genealogical research on Indian and métis families? How can research on individual members of the Indian and métis communities aid in understanding the culture to which they belonged? We hope that in examining the pages that follow, readers of Minnesota History, whatever their ethnic, cutural, or professional background, will be stimulated to take an increasing interest in an area of genealogical research that has been ignored too long. In the process, perhaps they will become aware of the special value of genealogical research for all students of history.

THE STUDY of ordinary individuals of the past is a fairly new interest in the United States. Generalizations about how the individual farmer or farmwife or worker lived centuries ago may have long interested people, but the facts of the individual’s life and the specifics of his familyy relationships, except in the case of the great or famous, was until recent years the province of the genealogist and the local historian…

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