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Subscriber: null; date: 13 August 2022

Métis

Source:
Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language
Author(s):
Tom McArthurTom McArthur

Métis [Through French from Latin mixticius, mixed, from miscere/mixtum to mix. Compare miscegenate], 

also mixed-bloods, and pejoratively half-breeds. Canadian names for individuals and communities of Amerindian and European descent (usually from European fur traders and Native women), especially those who settled in the 19c in the valleys of the Red, Assiniboine, and Saskatchewan rivers: French-speaking Roman Catholic Métis (also called les bois brûlés: burnt woods) and English-speaking Métis (also called English half-breeds or Métis anglais). The latter were usually descendants of Scots employed by the Hudson's Bay Company and if so were also called Hudson Bay Scots or improved Scotsmen. For some, the term Métis is properly restricted to the French group. The Métis have founded various political and cultural organizations, mainly to pursue land claims, often in alliance with status and non-status Indians. The Constitution Act of 1982 recognized them as an aboriginal people. pidgin languages spoken by the Métis were used in the fur trade, centred in the Red River Valley, now in the province of Manitoba. The best-known English-based dialect is Bungee (from Ojibwa panki a little), also known as the Red River dialect. Howard Adams has recalled: ‘In all the twenty years I spent in my halfbreed home, a bed was known as a paillasse (pa-jas). Doughnuts made by Métis women were called “la bange” [French beignet]…. When I first went into mainstream society my Métis ways were ridiculed and my language of “Metchif patois”, a combination of English, French, and Cree, was openly mocked’ (Prison of Grass: Canada from the Native Point of View, 1975, p. 175). The writer Maria Campbell reported in an interview: ‘We talk English, but we talk such a broken mixture of French, English, Gaelic and Cree, all mixed together’ (to Doris Hills in ‘You Have to Own Yourself’, in Prairie Fire, 1988).