Strangers in Blood: Fur Trade Company Families in Indian Country

Posted in Books, Canada, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2014-04-21 00:57Z by Steven

Strangers in Blood: Fur Trade Company Families in Indian Country

University of Oklahoma Press
292 pages
6 x 9 in.
Paperback ISBN: 9780806128139

Jennifer S.H. Brown, Professor of History
University of Winnipeg

For two centuries (1670-1870), English, Scottish, and Canadian fur traders voyaged the myriad waterways of Rupert’s Land, the vast territory charted to the Hudson’s Bay Company and later splintered among five Canadian provinces and four American states. The knowledge and support of northern Native peoples were critical to the newcomer’s survival and success. With acquaintance and alliance came intermarriage, and the unions of European traders and Native women generated thousands of descendants.

Jennifer Brown’s Strangers in Blood is the first work to look systematically at these parents and their children. Brown focuses on Hudson’s Bay Company officers and North West Company wintering partners and clerks-those whose relationships are best known from post journals, correspondence, accounts, and wills. The durability of such families varied greatly. Settlers, missionaries, European women, and sometimes the courts challenged fur trade marriages. Some officers’ Scottish and Canadian relatives dismissed Native wives and “Indian” progeny as illegitimate. Traders who took these ties seriously were obliged to defend them, to leave wills recognizing their wives and children, and to secure their legal and social status-to prove that they were kin, not “strangers in blood.”

Brown illustrates that the lives and identities of these children were shaped by factors far more complex than “blood.” Sons and daughters diverged along paths affected by gender. Some descendants became Métis and espoused Métis nationhood under Louis Riel. Others rejected or were never offered that course-they passed into white or Indian communities or, in some instances, identified themselves (without prejudice) as “half breeds.” The fur trade did not coalesce into a single society. Rather, like Rupert’s Land, it splintered, and the historical consequences have been with us ever since.

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The New Peoples: Being and Becoming Métis in North America

Posted in Anthologies, Anthropology, Books, Canada, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2012-01-09 02:49Z by Steven

The New Peoples: Being and Becoming Métis in North America

University of Manitoba Press
October 1985
306 pages
30 b&w illustrations, notes, index
Paper ISBN: 9780887556173

Edited by

Jacqueline Peterson, Professor Emerita of History
Washington State University

Jennifer S. H. Brown, Professor Emerita of History
University of Winnipeg

The New Peoples is the first major work to explore in a North American context the dimensions and meanings of a process fundamental to the European invasion and colonization of the western hemisphere: the intermingling of European and Native American peoples. This book is not about racial mixture, however, but rather about ethnogenesis—about how new peoples, new ethnicities, and new nationalities come into being.

Most of the contributors to this volume were participants at the first international Conference on the Métis in North America, hosted by the Newberry Library in Chicago. The purpose of that conference, and the collection that has grown out of it, has been to examine from a regionally comparative and multi-disciplinary vantage point several questions that lie at the heart of métis studies: What are the origins of the métis people? What economic, political, and/or cultural forces prompted the métis to coalesce as a self-conscious ethnic or national group? Why have some individuals and populations of mixed Indian and white ancestry identified themselves as white or Indian rather than as métis? What are the cultural expressions of métis identity? What does it mean to be métis today?

In the opening section of the book, John Elgin Foster, Olive P. Dickason, and Jacqueline Peterson grapple with the chronologies and locations of the emergent métis peoples in the first centuries after contact. In the second section, essays by John Long on the James Bay “halfbreed,” Trudy Nicks and Kenneth Morgan on an indigenous métis community at Grande Cache, Alberta, Verne Dusenberry on the landless Chippewa of Montana, and Irene Spry on the métis and mixed-bloods of Ruperts Land reveal the difficulties in generalizing about métis groups, some of whom have only recently begun to apply that label to themselves. Sylvia Van Kirk, R. David Edmunds, and Jennifer S. H. Brown explore the other side of métis genesis: the individuals and groups who never coalesced into lasting métis communities. The foreword is by Marcel Giraud and the afterword by Robert K. Thomas. First published in the mid-1980s, The New Peoples is considered a classic in the field of métis studies.

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