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Changing Metis Identity and Membership Criteria

Changing Metis Identity and Membership Criteria

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A presentation given at the Metis Identity Symposium at Prince George, B.C. on May 11, 2013. The criteria for membership in various Metis groups is discussed.
A presentation given at the Metis Identity Symposium at Prince George, B.C. on May 11, 2013. The criteria for membership in various Metis groups is discussed.

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Published by: Lawrence J. Barkwell on May 17, 2013
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02/18/2014

Louis Riel Institute

Lawrence J. Barkwell

Changing Metis Identity “Ni miyeuten oota aen ayayek.”

Metis National Identity Spans over 300 years
• • • • A Nation with its own Bill of Rights (1849 & 1869) A Nation with its own unique language (1790) A Nation with its own national flag (1816) A Nation with its own national anthem (1817)

The Metis Asserted Their Rights
• • • • June 15, 1815, Treaty with Selkirk Settlers June 17, 1816, Battle of Seven Oaks Feb. 12, 1845, Dakota accept Cuthbert Grant’s Treaty terms. 1848, Battle of O’Brien’s Coulée, Jean Baptiste Wilkie, Francois Gosselin, Red Bear and Little Shell (800 Metis and 200 Chippewa) defeat the Dakota. • 1849, Alexander Isbister petitions Colonial Office for Metis Rights. • Sept. 20, 1851, Metis negotiate a Treaty with Governor Ramsey at Pembina
• July, 1851, defeat Dakota at The Battle of the Grand Coteau • Oct. 1869, Riel stops the survey, stops Lt. Gov. designate from entering Manitoba • May 12, 1870, Riel negotiates Manitoba’s entry into Confederation • May 1885, Metis fight at Batoche • Sept. 19, 2003, Supreme Court confirms Metis Harvesting Rights

Canada – Constitution Act 1982:
•The Canadian Constitution Act of 1982: Section 35 states ;

•(1) The existing treaty and aboriginal rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed; •(2) In this Act, the „aboriginal peoples of Canada‟ includes Indian, Inuit, and Metis peoples;

Markers of Metis Identity
• High mobility – arising from involvement in the transportation system, mail system and the buffalo hunt. • Multilingual – Acted as translators for every treaty in the Canadian and American west. Their own language - Michif. • Distinctive dress and clothing – known as the Flower-Beadwork People – the distinctive Metis sash.

Markers of Metis Identity

• Fierce independence within a democratic tradition. The Metis called themselves Otipemisiwak (oh-t-paym-soo-wuk) or Gens du libre, ―The Independent Ones.‖ • The Metis were individualistic in their socio-economic and political structures as opposed to tribal. Historically they resisted measures to limit free trade and any government structures where they were not represented by democratically elected representatives.

Metis Identity Depends Upon
• • • • • • • • • • The time period under discussion. Identity often changes over time. Where you live. Who your ancestors are. Your historical stories and mythology. How you identify yourself. “Outside naming” Who is the gatekeeper of the definition? (Federal government, Provincial government, or Metis government) Who is the genealogist? Whose history do you believe? What are your cultural practices? Which Metis community you belong to. Metis Elders tell me that ultimately, outside naming and recognition, is not relevant, they know who they are and who their relations are. However, to exercise your rights as a member of an Aboriginal rights bearing community under Section 35 of the Constitution Act, or Harvesting Rights under Federal and Provincial legislation, government recognition (Federal, Provincial and Metis) is important.

Identity 1830
• Great Nemaha Half Breed Tract (138,000 acres) • By the treaty of Prairie du Chien, July 15, 1830, land was set aside for a Half Breed reservation, in Richardson and Nemaha counties in Nebraska. This land, which became known as the Great Nemaha Half Breed Tract, was setaside for the Omaha, loway, Ottoe, Yankton, and Santee Sioux Half-Breeds. Dual status people took this scrip.

Identity 1847
• The LaPoint Band Half-Breeds who signed the second Treaty of Fond du Lac in 1847. The second treaty of Fond du Lac was signed by Issac A. Verplank and Henry Mower Rice for the United States and representatives of the Ojibwe of Lake Superior and the Mississippi on August 2, 1847 and proclaimed on April 7, 1848. This treaty ceded lands in a triangular area west of the Mississippi River, bounded by the Prairie du Chien Line, Mississippi River, Crow Wing River and Long Prairie River. Signing for the La Pointe Band Half-Breeds were:

• • • • • • • •

Chief: Vincent Roy Warrior: Jean-Baptise Cadotte Second Chief: Lemo Sayer Warrior: Jean-Baptise Roy Michel Bas-he-na Louison Godin John Sayer Chief: Louison Corbin

Identity 1870
• Manitoba Act of 1870, Section 31, 32, Scrip Applications • Any degree of Aboriginal ancestry plus any degree of Euro-Canadian or European ancestry. Could be first generation Metis. Could be adopted either custom or legal. Had to be living in Manitoba in 1870. If you had entered treaty (1- 1871 to 6 – 1876) you had to first withdraw from treaty. However USA Treaty Indians didn’t have to withdraw. • Support of two affidavits from community members.

Turtle Mountain Band Members at Batoche during the 1885 Resistance, and Metis who fled to Turtle Mountain after the Battle
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Allery dit Henry. Marguerite (Boyer) (b. 1835) Belgarde (Bellegarde), Pierre. (b. 1859) Champagne dit Beaugrand, “Elisa” Elizabeth (Vandal) (b. 1853) Champagne, Elise (Parenteau) (b. 1859). Champagne, Emmanuel dit Beaugrand.(1823-1904) Champagne dit Beaugrand, Elizabeth (Vandal) (b. 1859). Champagne, Marie (Gosselin) (b. 1844). Davis, Louis. (b. 1856) Deschamps, Madeleine (Turcotte) (b. 1859). Desjarlais, Emelie (Lafontaine) (1851-1943). Desjarlais, Marie (Venne) (b. 1854). Dumas, Michel (Le Rat or Watcheskon). (18491901) Fisher, Virginie (Tourond) (b. 1859). Fleury, Patrice Joseph. (1848-1943) Fleury, Virginie (Arcand) (b. 1870). Gariépy (Gurriepy), Jean Baptiste. (b. 1835) Gariépy, Philippe Elzéar. (1839-1900) Gariépy, Pierre. (b. 1826) Grant, Rose-Marie (Gariépy) (b. 1828). Lafontaine, Louis. (1842-1939) Laverdure, Joseph. (b. 1834) Laverdure, Pierre “Beau-blé” (b. 1838) Lepine, Josephte (Turcotte) (b. 1858). • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Marion, Louis. (b. 1840) Monet dit Belhumeur, Isabelle (Sauve). (1848). Montour, Pascal Jr. (1852) Nault, André Jr. “Nin Nin.”(b. 1860) Nault, Napoléon. (1858-1931) Ouellette (Ouellet), Joseph. (c. 1792-1885) Ouellette, Veronique (Dumas) (b. 1852). Parenteau, Agnes (Laverdure) (1850-1923). Pelletier, Marie-Madeleine (Lafontaine) (b. 1845). Smith, Pelagie (Dumas) (1854-1906). Tourond, David. (1851-1890) Trottier, Charles “Wahpass” (Rabbit). (b. 1839) Trottier, Michel. (1832-1885) Turcotte, Napoleon (b. 1851) Turcotte, Norbert (b. 1855) Vandal, Melanie, “Malvina” (Nault) (1843-1898). Venne, Alexandre. (b. 1856) Wilkie, Agathe (Fleury) (1844-1941). Wilkie, Madeleine (Dumont) (1840-1886).

Identity 1978
• • • • • Tony Lussier writing in 1978: Today a Metis is defined by the MMF as: A person of mixed blood - Indian and European (no matter what amount) The Manitoba Metis Federation Constitution states, a non-registered person of Indian descent. M.M.F. Constitution, 1976, Article III, Sec. (A). One who considers himself as a Metis An enfranchised Indian - one who has given up his/ her treaty rights. See Indian Act, Section 108, 109, Queen's Printer, Ottawa, 1951. One who received land scrip during the 1870s. In the Manitoba Bar News of August 1968, Mr. W. P. Fillmore discusses the issue of Half-Breed Scrip. In this article, he maintains that at the time of issuing of scrip a "Half-Breed" was apparently any person who could claim to have any ancestor of White blood," p. 124. One who is identified with a group that identifies as Metis. A native but not a registered Indian. In some Manitoba Metis Federation locals, a non-native can belong to the M.M.F. provided he/she is married to a Metis. For the sake of administrative records of the organization, that person is counted as a Metis. (Manitoba Metis Federation Constitution, 1976, Article III, Sec. 2(b).)

Identity 1992
• • The Metis Nation Accord (Oct. 7, 1992) defined Metis as follows: (a) Metis means an Aboriginal person who self-identifies as Metis, who is distinct from Indian and Inuit and is a descendant of those Metis who received or were entitled to receive land grants and/or scrip under the provisions of the Manitoba Act, 1870 or the Dominion Lands Acts, as enacted from time to time. (b) ―Metis Nation‖ means the community of Metis persons in subsection a) and persons of Aboriginal descent who are accepted by that community.
The full text of the proposed Metis Nation Accord, dated October 7, 1992 can be read in Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, Volume 4, Appendix 5D at pp. 376-382 (Ottawa: Canada Communication Group Publishing, 1996.)

• • • • • • •

Signatories: Y. Dumont: MNC/MMF Larry Desmeules: MNA Gary Bohnet: Metis Nation –NWT Norm Evans: Pacific Metis Federation Gerald Morin: Metis Society Saskatchewan Ron Swain: Ontario Metis Aboriginal Assoc.

Identity 1996
The 1996 report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples recommended that (4.5.2): Every person who: a) Identifies himself or herself as Metis and, b) Is accepted as such by the nation of Metis people with which that person wishes to be associated, on the basis of criteria and procedures determined by that nation Be recognized as a member of that nation for purposes of nation-to-nation negotiations and as Metis for that purpose.

Identity 2012
• Jean Teillet’s presentation to the Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples • The Supreme Court of Canada has given us a basic concept of individual identification. You self-identify as Metis. You have an ancestral connection to a historic Metis community, and you are accepted by the community. Broadly, that is the definition of "Metis" that the Supreme Court of Canada set out.

Identity: MNC Current
THE MÉTIS NATIONAL COUNCIL defines a person as Métis if the individual meets the following criteria: • self-identifies as Métis • is of historic Métis Nation Ancestry • is distinct from other Aboriginal Peoples, and • is accepted by the Métis Nation
2. Definition of Métis Terms • THE MÉTIS NATIONAL COUNCIL provides the following definitions for terms that describe and define a person as Métis: 2.1 "Métis" means a person who self-identifies as Métis, is distinct from other Aboriginal peoples, is of Historic Métis Nation ancestry, and is accepted by the Métis Nation. 2.2 "Historic Métis Nation" means the Aboriginal people then known as Métis or Half-breeds who resided in the Historic Métis Nation Homeland 2.3 "Historic Métis Nation Homeland" means the area of land in west central North America used and occupied as the traditional territory of the Métis or Half-breeds as they were then known. 2.4 "Métis Nation" means the Aboriginal people descended from the Historic Métis Nation which is now comprised of all Métis Nation citizens and is one of the "aboriginal peoples of Canada" within the meaning of Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. 2.5 "Distinct from other Aboriginal peoples" means distinct for cultural and nationhood purposes.

Identity: Metis Settlements Current
• A person who wants to become a member of a Metis Settlement must apply to the Metis Settlement Council for membership approval. In order to be considered for membership, the applicant must: – Have Canadian Aboriginal ancestry – Identify with Métis history and culture – Be 18 years old – Have been a member of a Metis Settlement or have lived in Alberta for the past five years. The Metis Settlements of Alberta are not represented by MNC. Members of the settlements may also hold membership in MNA

Metis Settlements (cont’d)
Indians and Inuit 75(1) An Indian registered under the Indian Act (Canada) or a person who is registered as an Inuk for the purposes of a land claims settlement is not eligible to apply for membership or to be recorded as a settlement member unless subsection (2) or (3.1) applies. (2) An Indian registered under the Indian Act (Canada) or a person who is registered as an Inuk for the purposes of a land claims settlement may be approved as a settlement member if • (a) the person was registered as an Indian or an Inuk when less than 18 years old, • (b) the person lived a substantial part of his or her childhood in the settlement area, • (c) one or both parents of the person are, or at their death were, members of the settlement, and • (d) the person has been approved for membership by a settlement bylaw specifically authorizing the admission of that individual as a member of the settlement.

United Nations
• Published by the United Nations (07-58681)—March 2008—4,000 • United Nations Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, Article 33 • 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to determine their own identity or membership in accordance with their customs and traditions. • This does not impair the right of indigenous individuals to obtain citizenship of the States in which they live. • 2. Indigenous peoples have the right to determine the structures and to select the membership of their institutions in accordance with their own procedures. • Canada affirmed the declaration on November 12, 2010.

Issues
• • • • • What is the definition of the ―Historic Metis Homeland‖ Custom Adoptions C&FS Adoptions out of the Metis Community Dual Status Consistency across Metis affiliates for an identity card. Different provinces and territories don’t accept each others cards. No national identity card as yet. • Accepting scrip records for identity is questionable, many non-Metis obtained scrip by presenting themselves as Metis.

Issues
• Membership for Metis who move from USA to Canada. • A transparent, independent and impartial appeal process for memberships that are refused. The implication here is that appeals should be heard by an Appeals Panel and not by the membership Registrar. • Paul Chartrand has commented that in the current situation Metis rights and identity are being developed not by Metis political action but by judicial activism and the judiciary in defining „Metis‟ for section 35 purposes seems bound to copy and reproduce the unfairness and arbitrariness which characterized the Indian Act system.

La fin, Ekosi Kinanaskomitinawaw
Marsi Ekeepay Itootayan

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