In Canada, the Métis are defined as an aboriginal people and culture. They are descendants of indigenous (First Nations / American Indian) women and their colonial-era French (or sometimes Scottish or English) trapper husbands. The majority of the Métis people have combined Algonquian and French ancestry. Significantly, the descendants of these mixed race marriages formed communities, first around hunting, trapping and fur trading, that to this day have a unique and specific culture which is important to the self-identification of a Métis person.
When buffalo herds were more plentiful, some Métis people spent part of their year following a nomadic buffalo-hunting lifestyle. During the rest of the year they followed a more European way of life in settled homesteads with traditional jobs.
The most significant concentrations of Métis people are in the prairie provinces of Canada. Métis people also exist in fewer numbers in some of the neighboring northern United States.
The original home of many Métis was the Red River colony of what is now Manitoba. At the 1870 census of that area, 9,700 of the 12,000 inhabitants were listed as Métis. Data from that census and other sources was used to compile the family information in:
- D. N. Sprague, and R. P. Frye. The Genealogy of the First Métis Nation (Winnipeg: Pemmican Publications, 1983). WorldCat 866460704; FHL Book 971.27 D2s.
- Diamond Jenness. The Indians of Canada (Toronto [Ontario] ; Buffalo [New York] : University of Toronto Press, 1977) WorldCat 3610725; FHL Book 970.1 J435i.
- Public Archives of Canada. National Map Collection, Maps of Indian Reserves and Settlements in the National Map Collection = Cartes des réserves et agglomérations indiennes de la Collection nationale de cartes et plans, 2 vols. (Ottawa, Ontario : National Map Collection, c1980- ). WorldCat 7468433; FHL Book 970.1 C157m.
Métis Scrip Records (free) --Library and Archives Canada. The records generally consist of the following: affidavits and applications, land and money scrip notes, scrip certificates, receipts, and a number of textual files consisting of letters and memoranda outlining government policies, rulings, and procedures.
Search Strategies. First search the same Canadian or American records you would search for anyone else in the same area. After exhausting those sources, it may be useful to look up specialized government records related to the Métis people.
See also Canada First Nations.