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Indigenous Citation Guide

The Word "Métis"

The use of the term and who chooses to identify as Métis/Metis is not always agreed upon, and remains a contentious issue. Be aware of this when writing about the Métis.

In general, 'Métis/Metis' with the capital 'M' refers to Indigenous People who emerged during the fur trade from the intermarriage of people of European and Indigenous descent. These people tended to coalesce around the Red River, and were at the heart of the Red River Resistance of 1897-70 and the Riel Resistance of 1885. The Métis who lived here were both French-speaking and English-speaking.

'métis/metis' with the lowercase 'm' is sometimes used to refer to people of mixed Indigenous and non-Indigenous descent who do not claim kinship ties from the historic Red River region.

Historically, the English speaking Métis at Red River sometimes were referred to and referred to themselves as Half-breeds, although this term is no longer in contemporary use. In addition, some Métis, particularly in Alberta and Saskatchewan, referred to themselves as Road Allowance People, which references the Road Allowance period following the Riel Resistance.

As a noun, Métis can be plural or singular. For example:

  • She is Métis
  • Alberta is the only province in Canada with designated land for the Métis

It can also be used as an adjective. For example:

  • Métis heritage
  • A Métis person

Here are a selection of books that deal with Métis Identity

Writing about the Métis

The Métis Resistances

In accordance with Principle 17 of Elements of Indigenous Style, the appropriate terms for the events in the history of the Métis and Canada in 1869-70 and 1885 are the Red River Resistance and the Riel Resistance.

Avoid the use of the term Rebellion, which is incorrect for a number of reasons:

  1. Rebellion is defined as "an organized armed resistance to an established ruler or government". In 1869-70, Canada had no jurisdiction over the territory of the Red River (the Hudson's Bay Company did). Although by 1885 Canada had claimed what is now Alberta and Saskatchewan, it had no established governing structures and had not negotiated with the Peoples who were already living there.
  2. The term Rebellion involves open conflict which, while it did occur, was never the goal in either 1869 or 1885.
  3. The term Resistance implies an opposition to an invading force, which more accurately captures the situation of the Métis in 1869 and 1885.