Who Can Call Themselves Métis?

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Canada, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation on 2018-01-03 04:36Z by Steven

Who Can Call Themselves Métis?

The Walrus
2017-12-29

Chris Andersen, Dean of the Faculty of Native Studies
University of Alberta


iStock / selimaksan

With the latest census surge in the Métis population, it’s time to start talking about how we define the term

The Métis are an Indigenous people that originated in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century on the northern plains of what is now southern Manitoba. Centred historically in and around Red River (now Winnipeg) and intimately tied to the buffalo-hunting economy, the Métis became a powerful force by the middle of the nineteenth century, pushing back against the Hudson’s Bay Company’s claims to economic monopoly and later leading two armed resistances against the Canadian state. Despite this powerful historic presence and the fact that the 1982 Constitution Act enumerated the Métis, along with First Nations and Inuit, as one of three Aboriginal peoples in Canada, the term has, in recent years, largely fallen into racialized disrepute.

Today, many people understand “Métis” not as an Indigenous nation but as denoting people with a mixture of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal ancestry. The Government of Canada has used the term in this manner in multiple policy contexts. Inconsistent usage of Métis has produced confusing and even contradictory results in the heart of some of Canada’s most powerful institutions, including the census. This has exacerbated an already-confusing state of affairs in the minds of the general public and many policy actors about who the Métis people are and the kinds of relationships with government to which we aspire…

Read the entire article here.

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Who gets to be Metis? As more people self-identify, critics call out opportunists

Posted in Articles, Canada, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation on 2017-11-24 22:38Z by Steven

Who gets to be Metis? As more people self-identify, critics call out opportunists

National Post
2017-11-23

Graeme Hamilton


Robin Robichaud shows his t-shirt after a meeting for the Wobtegwa aboriginal community, a new Metis group.
Christinne Muschi /National Post

The arrival of new players is stirring up tension with established Métis groups and raising concern among First Nations leaders

SHERBROOKE, Que. – The scent of burning sage lingers in the air as drummers begin a song of welcome. They are traditions dating back centuries, but on this Sunday afternoon the ceremony opens a gathering of one of the country’s youngest Aboriginal groups — the two-year-old Wobtegwa Métis clan.

The meeting, held in a high school auditorium, has brought together members from a corner of Quebec stretching northeast from Montreal past Quebec City and south to the United States border. Some of those present have long known of their Indigenous roots; for others the discovery has come recently. But they have all come together to push for government recognition of their rights.

“This clan is sovereign on its territory,” Yves Cordeau, band chief for the Lac-Mégantic region informs the group.

If the claim comes as news to many in Quebec, it’s because the province’s Métis awakening is recent. Raynald Robichaud, the Wobtegwa’s clan chief, says even members of his own family discouraged him from returning to his Aboriginal roots. “We knew we had a great-grandmother who was aboriginal, but our family absolutely did not want to talk about it, because they were afraid,” he says. “For us now, the fear is gone, and people are coming back.”…

…Checking a box on a census or connecting to family heritage is one thing. But as groups like the Wobtegwa lay claim to special services and territorial rights — in some cases, the same land as other Aboriginal groups — a backlash to the influx of new Métis is emerging. Some critics question the motivation of those who “become” Métis, and the impact of their activism on more established groups. Others question the right to self-identify at all…

…Leroux, Gaudry and organizations representing western Métis maintain that mixed ancestry alone does not make one Métis. True Métis — as recognized by the Constitution as one of Canada’s three aboriginal groups — must have roots in Manitoba’s historic Red River settlement, they say. That can include Métis all the way west to British Columbia and into Ontario, but not as far east as Quebec and the Maritimes

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Metis: Race, Recognition, and the Struggle for Indigenous Peoplehood

Posted in Books, Canada, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation on 2014-08-21 00:39Z by Steven

Metis: Race, Recognition, and the Struggle for Indigenous Peoplehood

University of British Columbia Press
2014-05-12
284 pages
6 x 9 in.
Hardcover ISBN: 9780774827218

Chris Andersen, Research and Associate Professor of Native Studies
University of Alberta

Ask any Canadian what “Métis” means, and they will likely say “mixed race” or “part Indian, part white.” Canadians consider Métis people mixed in ways that other indigenous people — First Nations and Inuit — are not, and the census and the courts have premised their recognition of the Métis on this race-based understanding.

Chris Andersen argues that Canada got it wrong. He weaves together personal anecdotes, critical race theory, and discussions of history and law to demonstrates that our understanding of “Métis” — that our very preoccupation with mixedness — is not natural but stems from more than 150 years of sustained labour on the part of the state, scholars, and indigenous organizations. From its roots deep in the colonial past, the idea of “Métis as mixed” pervaded the Canadian consciousness through powerful sites of knowledge production such as the census and courts until it settled in the realm of common sense. In the process, “Métis” has become an ever-widening racial category rather than the identity of an indigenous people with a shared sense of history and culture centred on the fur trade.

Andersen asks all Canadians to consider the consequences of adopting a definition of “Métis” that makes it nearly impossible for the Métis Nation to make political claims as a people.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword / Paul Chartrand
  • Introduction
  • 1. Mixed: The History and Evolution of an Administrative Concept
  • 2. Métis-as-Mixed: The Supreme Court of Canada and the Census
  • 3. The Métis Nation: A People, a Shared History
  • 4. Métis Nation and Peoplehood: A Critical Reading of the Supreme Court of Canada and the Census
  • 5. A Case of (Mis)recognition: The NunatuKavut Community Council
  • Conclusion; Notes; Works Cited; Index
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Marginalizing Métis histories through Treaty Territory Acknowledgment

Posted in Articles, Canada, History, Law, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation on 2013-10-05 04:57Z by Steven

Marginalizing Métis histories through Treaty Territory Acknowledgment

Big M Musings
2013-10-03

Chris Andersen, Research and Associate Professor of Native Studies
University of Alberta

In the last decade or so, it has become a fairly accepted practice in Indigenous Studies circles for scholars presenting on Indigenous issues to begin their talks with some form of acknowledgment of the Indigenous peoples upon whose territories they are presenting. In western Canada, home of several so-called “numbered treaties”, scholars often go further to more specifically acknowledge the treaty territory upon which they present: “I’d like to acknowledge our presence on Treaty 4 territory…” or even the historical names of the peoples on those territories. Scholars have also begun to acknowledge their presence on treaty territories in their book manuscripts and articles. Others – among them graduate students – have added treaty acknowledgments to the signature lines of their emails, some taking the time to find the proper Indigenous terms for the territory. In certain cases, universities have even begun to acknowledge this presence during their convocation ceremonies…

…However, while many of us are aware of the historical treaty process, far fewer are aware of the options Métis were given to “surrender” their Aboriginal title. Certainly, it is possible to envision the Manitoba Act as a form of treaty, since it involved its own forms of negotiation between Métis representatives and Ottawa. Likewise, various historians have noted instances in which Métis individuals and families signed into treaty with their “First Nations” relatives….

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Moya `Tipimsook (“The People Who Aren’t Their Own Bosses”): Racialization and the Misrecognition of “Métis” in Upper Great Lakes

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Canada, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2011-01-23 20:18Z by Steven

Moya `Tipimsook (“The People Who Aren’t Their Own Bosses”): Racialization and the Misrecognition of “Métis” in Upper Great Lakes

Ethnohistory
Volume 58, Number 1 (Winter 2011)
pages 37-63
DOI: 10.1215/00141801-2010-063

Chris Andersen, Associate Professor of Native Studies
University of Alberta

Scholars have long noted the central place of racialization in the last five centuries of colonial rule and likewise the crossracial encounters and eventual colonial intimacies regulated in its shadow. In the conceptual terrain posted by these demarcations, this article explores how, in the absence of extensive documentation on historical self-ascriptions, contemporary ethnohistorians examining upper Great Lakes fur trade settlements have attempted to come to terms with the historical social ontologies that long preceded official attempts to regulate them. Specifically, we examine the racialized logics governing the retrofitting of these settlements as “métis” and “Métis” and, secondarily, the recent creep of juridical logics into ethnohistorical conversations. Rather than challenging ethnohistorical conclusions that these settlements were/are Métis, this article challenges how they are ethnohistorically imagined as such, and in doing so it appeals for a Métis “counter-ethnohistory” alternatively anchored in an analytics of peoplehood.

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