My blogger name reflects that history, as âpihtawikosisân literally means ‘half-son’ in Cree.On one extreme of little ‘m’ métis identity, one must actually be half First Nations and half not.
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There are also discussion about connection to culture as a métis, so it is not always focused on blood. Big ‘M’ Métis tends to be an socio-political definition, referring to the blend of First Nations and European cultures resulting in the genesis of a new identity.
However, the cultural connection referred to is generally First Nations culture, not a distinct métis culture. There is less focus on “race”, although kinship ties are very much present.
What I knew but did not understand, is that we were related to pretty much everyone in Alberta, lots of people in Saskatchewan and a bunch of people in northern BC.
Some of our relations lived on Stoney reserves, others lived on Cree reserves, still others had farms near places like Keephills, Smokey Lake, Rivière Qui Barre and so on.
I point this out because although the term Métis predates that official recognition, it was not necessarily the most common term in use.
Often we were referred to in the Prairies as the Road Allowance People.
(I warned some of you I’d be rehashing supposedly ‘old’ territory!
) If you were to boil down common approaches to Métis identity, you generally end up with two categories, sometimes overlapping, sometimes entirely separate, sometimes with all sorts of anomalies left over and scattered about.
You, my egg-nog drinking friend who thinks it’s appropriate to quiz me on my ‘background’ are using the little ‘m’ definition. This is the category I’ve encountered most in Quebec.
As a racial category, one is little ‘m’ métis when they are not fully Indian or non-aboriginal. This is not the only term that was used, we were also called half-bloods, half-breeds, michif, bois brûlé, chicot, country-born, mixed bloods, and so on.
The term ‘halfbreed‘ still got tossed around a lot when I was growing up and was pretty ubiquitous in my parent’s and grandparent’s time.