The Jesuits claimed:
"Not a cape was turned, not a river entered, but a Jesuit led the Way"
The People said:
The Jesuits (black robes) are damnable liers (liars).
Even the most amateur of historian knows the actual explorers of New France (Canada) were without question the Coureurs de Bois and Metis.
The First People had little desire to
They however led the way for the Coureurs de bois and Metis
They were fully aware of the four seas to the north/south, east/west,
they believed their own location was the best.
It is important to remember that no culture is
static in nature and evolves over time, hopefully for the better. I must
apologize for the lack of attention given to the coastal mixed-blood peoples in
the Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic and Gulf of Mexico regions of North America. These
peoples are excluded only because none of my known mixed-blood ancestors
originated from these regions.
The focus of my research however is the North
West Algonquian Metis culture as being distinct from the South West Mississippi
or Missouri Metis or the other Mixed Blood Peoples of America. The Red River of
the North West from a Canadian perspective has been traditionally acclaimed as
the cultural apex of the Metis culture. The Metis culture however finds it's
apex not in the Red River but in the story of the Grand Kitchi Gami (Lake
Superior) also known as the 'Old North West'.
people of the Grand Kitchi Gami are the Ojibwa that could be identified by their
moccasins. It is interesting that the first People of Canada identified their
neighbors by cultural traits like their clothing, methods of cooking etc.
Europeans use religion, skin color, warlike nature, etc. They use these old
world attributes and then attempt to assume the First Nation People used
the same criteria.
Modern historians, political and religious folks still view the People with a European perspective. They still attempt to impose their prevailing system of beliefs and values when viewing other cultures.
My original objective was not to research the
Metis culture nor the Indian culture but to trace my Canadian ancestors. While
conducting research into source documents, traders diaries etc. I was forced to
record dates, locations, cultures, clans, people and events to assist in my
quest. Before long it became too big and had to be placed on my computer. Over
the years it grew and grew. I now have over 15MB of data on line. It is now my
turn to share my collection to those who might be interested.
is Metis: Basically it is a cultural tradition
based on a premise of First Nation ancestry or adoption into that tradition. The
word Metis, is derived by the French, from the Ojibwa word Wissakodewinmi that
figuratively means half burnt woodsman, not quite a full fledged woodsman. The
Cree called the Metis Otipemsewak that means their own boss, as distinct
from French or English people. The Cree viewed the English as being slaves to
their Company. In fact many were in fact indentured slaves as were the French.
The Metis culture evolved from the Coureurs des Bois, Voyager and the
Indian cultures. The Voyagers were of two types, the French Voyager pork eaters
(mangeur de lard) and the more Metis type Winter Voyager winterer (hivernant)
who normally took country wives.
The Jesuit Father Vivier in 1750 first
introduced the derogatory term half breed. He believed the very existence of
being Metis was against the Laws of God. The English first called the Metis
'those Peddlers' (about 1750) and later called them 'those Canadians'. The
French were called 'those French Canadians'. The English would later also adopt
the French term Half Breed. The term mixed blood was introduced by the American
English during the 1800's treaty process.
The Jesuit also called the Metis, Couriers des
Bois meaning illegal runners of the forests but more commonly used the terms
savage, heathen or half-breed. The A.F. Ewing Commission of 1935 decided to be
Metis, "a person had to either look like an Indian or be able to establish
Indian ancestry. They also had to live the life of an ordinary Indian and
non-treaty Indians would be included" as Metis. Malcolm Norris a member of
the Commission maintained that, "if a person has a drop of Indian blood in
his veins and has not assimilated in the social fabric of our civilization he is
a Metis." This assimilation assumption is a European belief that is based
on paternalistic logic.
(VI)-Louis Garneau, a Metis, born 1789 in the
North West, son Frenchman (most likely (V)-Jean Baptiste Garneau (born 1762) and
Sowayguay Ojibwa is the motivation for this North West historical perspective.
These, my ancestors, worked Lake Superior, La Pointe, Red Lake, Pembina, Red
River and Manitoba. Records and family tradition indicate they acquired
‘Country Wives’, possibly Dakota Sioux and positively Ojibwa (Chippewa). It
would appear that two generations of Garneau's worked for the North West Company
and one or more for the Montreal Companies.
or more may also have worked for the French Trading Company. It is likely the
Garneau's are Voyagers, Nor'wester and Coureurs des Bois. The family married
into the Cadotte family who arrived in the West in 1671 and made it their
permanent home about 1755. This family introduced Huron (Wendat) and Iroquois
into the family. We also know that the Thomas clan, who joined the Garneau clan
in marriage, arrived Hudson Bay, North West Territories 1789 and became some of
the first recorded Prairie Metis with a Cree ancestry. I say recorded because
the taking of native wives or the recording of Metis children was forbidden by
the Hudson Bay Company until the 1790's. This section attempts to view history
from this Mixed Blood Nature of the North West Territories. It therefore speaks
of the Metis Nation of the North West.
bring some order to our understanding of the evolving Territories culture, you
can visualize three classical periods.
trading periods are:
The exclusion of the English is because they
had little real impact on the formation of early Canadian culture until after
the 1790's when they adopted the Canadian Metis method of conducting business.
Their unique contribution only began in 1812 in the Red River and with their
acquisition of the North West Company in 1821.
Another more European perception of the trading
Metis, Mixed Blood or Half Breed peoples
are the only indigenous people of the Americas. The three major founding
cultures of Canada are the Indian, Inuit and Dene who themselves are of Mixed
Blood Origin. It is noteworthy that the European cultures are reluctant to admit
that they also are all of Mixed Blood Origin or Half Breeds. The Native
Americans inherently knew this great truth and therefore freely accepted all
people as their brothers. Most European people do not hold this great truth and
thereby created a transitional culture called the Metis. Metis therefore is a
transitory state of mind, a figment of our imagination, a cultural anomaly. That
it still remains an anomaly surely speaks to unresolved Canadian cultural
By the year 2000, some estimate that 50 percent
of the population of Western Canada will have Native blood and will therefore be
Metis by any genetic measure. As a result of four hundred years of persecution
only about one million Canadians will freely admit to Native origins by the end
of the twentieth century. If we don't understand the Historic Metis condition we
are consigning our children to repeat the errors of the past. We don't have a
large Aboriginal Native population with strong brotherhood and integration set
of beliefs and values to accommodate the transformation of the Canadian, Asian
and European Half Breeds into a 21st century Canadian Metis culture.
a Stereotype The new world defines its
cultures primarily by their clothing, so it comes as no surprise that the Metis
adopted a unique attire. A short shirt, red woolen cap, deer skin leggings, the
azion (breech cloth) and a pair of deer skin moccasins. The thighs are left bare
like the Indians. Lets not forget the blue capote, inevitable pipe, gaudy sash,
gay beaded bag or pouch that hangs from the sash, the fiddle and you have a
pro-type Metis. This attire evolved over time but it is noteworthy that present
day Metis usually search back into their roots to recover components of a
cultural attire and then their real culture of principles, beliefs and values.
The Metis culture was originally called
irrepressible, made up of unassuming gens libre (freemen) who were humble and
filled with peals of laughter, songs of merriment, campfire stories of tall
tales of foaming rapids, birch rimmed lakes, shallow winding streams and 'Oh
Yes' lets not forget the Grand Buffalo Hunts. I was fortunate to have experience
the tail end of this dying culture that is now going through a 'Grand
The Aboriginal American culture had already
accommodated, Buddhist Chinese, East Indian, Judaism, Celtic, Viking, Norwegian
and Basque before the arrival of the Spanish, Dutch, French, and English. The
Spanish diseases, as it is called, had already killed tens of millions of the
Aboriginal peoples before the French and English ventured into this region of
the world. Most historians for the last few hundred years claim that America
gave Europe the French disease, syphilis that took a terrible toll in Europe.
The theory goes that syphilis must have been brought to Europe by Columbus as
there was little trace of the disease before 1492. Recent evidence points to
Hull, England where an excavated priory unearthed evidence of the disease in
many of the 14th century monks prior to the Columbus trip. Other evidence also
suggests this disease is evident in Italy (Greater Greece) about 700 B.C. It is
now suggested that Columbus spread this terrible disease to the Americas.
Metis as a cultural issue did not surface in
Canada until the 17th century. The Roman Catholic Jesuit Order is the first to
introduce this cultural cast system into Canada based on the color of one's
skin, their religion and/or value system. Their classification is White French,
Black Slaves, Savage Indian, Protestant English, and those Coureurs des Bois or
Metis who are at the low end of the scale. It is noteworthy that the Jesuit
classified the Protestant English as lesser than black or Indians. They also had
another value scale of Catholic, Pagan and Protestant being the worst evil. This
implied that if you are a Protestant and English then you are grouped into the
same class as the Coureurs des Bois regardless of your skin color.
The voyagers average height was 5 feet 6 inches
with a few being greater than 5 feet 8 inches. He could paddle 15-18 hours per
day and still joke beside the campfire. He could carry 200 to 450 pounds
merchandise. The voyagers always sang while they paddled, songs of their canoe,
country, life, loves, church, old ballads, humorous jingles, poems, but always
to the stroke of the paddle, sometimes as frequently as one per second. Canoe
racing was one of the chief delights of these voyagers. These attributes were
passed to their decedents the Metis.
An American perspective suggests the more
significant Metis Colonies include Sault Ste Marie, La Pointe, Detroit, Mackinac,
Chicago, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Prairie Du Chien, St Paul, St Louis, Winnipeg and
many more lesser historical locations. The Metis colonies are described as
charming with Acadian simplicity. They have time for friendliness, politeness
and a note of picturesqueness to their attire. They have a simple faith, and a
childlike objectivity. They accepted the Indian at his own valuation, which was
not low, whereas the American Frontiersman could scarcely find words for his
contempt of what he considered a thieving, shiftless, dirty race.
If you want to find out more
please go to the
Nation of the North West