Louis Riel's Last Memoir

Please note that these memoirs were translated from French to English and that some portions of the sentences are not clear, or may be grammatically incorrect due to the translation.
Jesus, remember! Mary, intercede for us!
St. Joseph, pray for us!

The Metis of the North West

The Metis have as paternal ancestors the former employees of the Hudson's Bay and North-West Companies and as maternal ancestors Indian women belonging to various tribes.

The French word Metis is derived from the Latin participle mixtus which means "mixed"; it expresses well the idea it represents.

Quite appropriate also, was the corresponding English term "Half-Breed" in the first generation of blood mixing, but now that European blood and Indian blood are mingled to varying degrees, it is no longer generally applicable.

The French word Metis expresses the idea of this mixture in as satisfactory a way as possible and becomes, by that fact, a suitable name for our race.

A little observation in passing without offending anyone.

Very polite and amiable people, may sometimes say to a Metis, "You don't look at all like a Metis. You surely can't have much Indian blood. Why, you could pass anywhere for pure White."

The Metis, a trifle disconcerted by the tone of these remarks would like to lay claim to both sides of his origin. But fear of upsetting or totally dispelling these kind assumptions holds him back. While he is hesitating to choose among the different replies that come to mind, words like these succeed in silencing him completely. "Ah! bah! You have scarcely any Indian blood. You haven't enough worth mentioning." Here is how the Metis think privately.

"It is true that our Indian origin is humble, but it is indeed just that we honour our mothers as well as our fathers. Why should we be so preoccupied with what degree of mingling we have of European and Indian blood? No matter how little we have of one of the other, do not both gratitude and filial love require us to make a point of saying, "We are Metis."

The memoir written here was taken from the following source.
Hold Your Head High: History of the Metis Nation in Western Canada. Written by A.H. deTremandam. 1936

Translated by Elizabeth Maquet. 1982

Part 2

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Copyright Michael J. Durocher, 1997