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Metis Legacy Series: Book Review

Metis Legacy Series: Book Review



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CM Magazine book reviews of the Metis Legacy series of history and culture books. Published by Pemmican Publications (Winnipeg) and the Gabriel Dumont Institute (Saskatoon)
CM Magazine book reviews of the Metis Legacy series of history and culture books. Published by Pemmican Publications (Winnipeg) and the Gabriel Dumont Institute (Saskatoon)

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Published by: Lawrence J. Barkwell on Mar 22, 2010
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CM Magazine: Book Reviews of the Metis Legacy Series:
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyrightnotice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.Published byThe Manitoba Library Association ISSN 1201-9364
CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 19 . . . . May 24, 2002
 Metis Legacy.: A Metis Historiography and Annotated Bibliography.
Lawrence J. Barkwell, Leah Dorion andDarren R. Prefontaine, editors.Winnipeg, MB: Pemmican Publications,2001.512 pp., pbk. & cl., $ 69.95 (pbk.), $84.95(cl.).ISBN 1-894717-03-1 (pbk.), ISBN 1-894717-04-X (cl.).
Subject Headings:Metis-BibliographyMetis-Historiography.Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.
Review by Alexander Gregor.
**** /4
The ancestors of today's Metis Nation were the children of the unions between North American Aboriginal mothers and European fathers. They developed into a distinct  people with a group consciousness necessary to promote their collective causes. A Metiswas not a French-Canadian, nor a Canadian, nor a Scot. Neither were they First Nationsor Inuit. They created for themselves and future generations a unique culture, a groupidentity and declared themselves a "New Nation." The Metis forged treaties and declared a Bill of Rights that marked this identity as a "New Nation."
This large (500-plus 8 1/2"x11" pages) and expensively produced (almost seventypages of photographic plates, many in colour) is very much a group enterprise:sponsored by the Canada Millennium Partnership Program, it is based on thecollaboration of the Louis Riel Institute of the Manitoba Metis Federation (based inWinnipeg), and the Gabriel Dumont Institute of Metis Studies and Applied Research
(based in Saskatoon). In addition, it has been supported, financially or "in-kind," bysome twenty agencies and organizations both in Canada and the United States,ranging from the Canadian Museum of Civilization to the University of MontanaCenter for the Rocky Mountain West.
The compilation has been motivatedby a concern for the state of MetisStudies both in Canada and the UnitedStates. Although written by and primarilyfor scholars, it is presented in a way thatensure its interest to a broad generalreadership; indeed, the goal of fosteringa better understanding of the issues andprospects of Metis Studies in the largercommunity is implicit in the undertaking.In general, the balance between thesetwo objectives has been successfullymaintained.
The first section of the book comprises a sort of "state-of-the-art" review of Metishistoriography. This assessment is premised on the claim that, until recent years,that historiography written in the main by "Euro-centric males" - had been biasedand limited. It focused on individuals, and on political, social, and military topics,ignoring almost completely such matters as language, religion and spirituality,women, oral traditions, and on. The entry in recent years of Metis scholars from arange of disciplines has, it is argued, started to set that account aright, both inbalance and scope; on the basis of their work, it is clear the area need no longerremain an incomplete and biased appendix to the mainstream of North Americanhistoriography. The area is now in the process of being studied in its completeness.The next challenge and one, if this book is to be used as evidence, that has not beenmet as yet will be to show this revised history in its proper relationship to the"mainstream," so-called. There is an inherent danger that in reclaiming the historythe new scholars may inadvertently isolate it in yet a different way. But howeverincomplete, this present study is nonetheless a necessary and reassuring beginning.
The book itself is divided into three distinct parts, the first having to do with thecurrent state of scholarship in the field. As an initial step in this reassessment, thefirst chapter of Part One proceeds through the task of "Deconstructing MetisHistoriography," with sections devoted to the "Epochs of Metis History," "EmergingVoices of Metis Women," "Metis Identity and Community Studies," "Metis OralTradition and Spirituality," "Metis Culture and Language," "Metis Resistances andPolitical Activism," "Metis People and the Land," "Educational Resources About theMetis," "Metis Literary and Artistic Sources," "Canadian Military Service," and"Contemporary Issues". Following this overview, a series of free-standing chapters(representing the new genre of scholarship) deal with various historical issues,periods, and settings in both countries: touching on geographical settings (e.g., "TheEmergence of the Metis Nation in Manitoba," by Bruce J. Shore; and "The SpringCreek (Lewistown) Metis: Metis Identity in Montana," by Martha Harroun Foster); onindividuals (e.g.," Resistance Activist Elzear Goulet," by Todd Lamirande); on Metismusic; on the Michif language; on the clothing and decorative arts of the Metis; andon Metis perspectives in contemporary art. A very useful final chapter deals with the
issue of multiculturalism, as it is understood in contemporary social policy, and thespecial nature and circumstances of the Metis community in respect of that policy.Two additional sections of the book deal, respectively, with "Metis MaterialCulture": a very attractive set of colour photographs of Metis crafts and artifacts,along with a primarily black and white but just as engaging collection depicting Metislife, historical and contemporary. The third and final section of the book includes acomprehensive annotated bibliography which will be of immense use to anyonewishing to pursue topics further or to use the book as an instructional tool. (The onlycomplaint to be made here is that the bibliography is organized solely on analphabetical basis.) This bibliography of print sources is followed by an equally usefulcompilation of videos, audiotapes, CD's and CD-ROM's.
Metis Legacy 
makes an important contribution, both as an opportunity to reviewand reassess the state of Metis Studies, and as an occasion to showcase examples of that new scholarship and of the teaching and research resources now available in thefield. The book is an excellent example of the potential of effective scholarlycollaboration between the academy and the community; and it will prove a veryuseful resource in any senior years or undergraduate courses and programs that inany way touch on the Metis experience.
Highly Recommended.
 Alexander Gregor is a professor of higher education at the University of Manitoba.
CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 14 . . . . March 7, 2008
 Metis Legacy (Volume II): Michif Culture, Heritage and Folkways.
Lawrence J. Barkwell, Leah M. Dorion & Audreen Hourie, eds.Saskatoon, SK: Gabriel Dumont Institute:Winnipeg, MB: Pemmican Publications,2006.254 pp., pbk., $45.00.ISBN 978-0-920915-80-6.Subject Headings:Métis.Michif language-Canada.Métis-Social life and customs.Grades 4 and up / Ages 9 and up.

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