Since I was young, I’ve loved the woods. I’m always out there.
August 31, 2019 1:58 PM   Subscribe

Self-Made Métis. Canadian scholar Darryl Leroux's research on "raceshifting" looks at the rise of groups and lawsuits claiming indigenous identities in eastern Canada, many as a strategy to contest the rights of recognized Indigenous peoples.
On Twitter, Leroux shared some explanations entered as court testimony:

Q: So, tell us what makes you "Métis" [Indigenous]?
Bob: Well, when I was young, we used to play "Cowboy and Indians... And, well, I always wanted to be an Indian.

Q: For the game?
Bob: I wanted to be an Indian. I read the "Last of the Mohicans" comic book over and over at the library, and I wanted to be one of the characters, I forget his name, but I'd say, "I want to be that Indian".
The fact that new claims to a Métis identity have piled up so quickly has led to widespread confusion among non-Indigenous people, who don’t tend to know how Indigenous peoples traditionally recognize kinship and belonging. If all French descendants with a seventeenth-century Indigenous ancestor suddenly claimed to be Indigenous there would be over six million new Indigenous people in Canada, more than tripling the current number. At a time when Canadians are in reflection about their history, and the meaning of truth and reconciliation, these claims can threaten Indigenous peoples in the most basic of ways, by undermining their sovereignty and self-determination.
posted by spamandkimchi (9 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
This is a really crummy way to undermine indigenous identity while pretending to support it.
posted by zenzenobia at 2:40 PM on August 31, 2019 [10 favorites]

What tha shit?

This is Cultural Appropriation writ large and it's disgusting.
posted by Faintdreams at 2:59 PM on August 31, 2019 [4 favorites]

Yes, this is some bullshit (see Joseph Boyden and other vague "1/64th blood" bullshit).

Also a good excuse to share Metis in Space!, featuring Chelsea Vowel who has written some great accessible books.
posted by anthill at 4:12 PM on August 31, 2019 [5 favorites]

That's an excellent article and does a great job of outlining some of the volatile politics in the fight for indigenous rights in Quebec. One thing worth highlighting from the article, though it doesn't elaborate on how the word is used in French Canadian culture, is the term sauvage (savage in English). We have Samuel De Champlain to blame for its origins and in English & French Canada it has a checkered history (to say the least) and has often been used as a slur and a justification for mistreatment of indigenous people. In anycase, the term recently cropped up in the news with Dior's release of its new perfume inspired by indigenous North Americans, called Sauvage.
posted by Ashwagandha at 5:19 PM on August 31, 2019 [7 favorites]

For anyone not steeped in Canadian history or those who may not know anything about the Meti people beside Louis Riel I'll note that the Meti are one of three aboriginal groups recognized under the constitution; that as a people is possible they've been fucked by the Canadian government even more than other aboriginal groups (hard as that is to believe), and they have only recently been able to bring things to task with the federal government.

The Meti people were essentially made landless by a script system designed to separate them from their lands, homes and support structures. One of the iconic symbols of the Meti is the Red River Cart. In part because after being dispossessed from their lands, and carrying the stigma of 'Half-Breed' (which meant being chased away from both white and first nation settlements); they found themselves living on the road allowances left behind when the government subdivided their land into homesteads for settlers in their historical carts as the only non-private space available. Though even then they technically were trespassing on Crown Land.

Since a Supreme Court ruling in 2013 that the Canadian Government failed to live up to it's promises the two parties have been have been in negotiations. Some of the provincial nations have recently signed self governance agreements with the federal government.

Finally as a member of the Meti Nation BC bugger these guys right in the ear.
posted by Mitheral at 7:05 PM on August 31, 2019 [19 favorites]

it reminds me of the Cajun people here in the other end of Francophone America. we got kicked out of Canada, ended up shacking up with the Houma people, and learned Louisiana from them. When the time came and the Houma applied for recognition, the USA used the fact that Cajun people and Houma people weaved the same and had a bunch of similar practices to declare that Houma were not a district people--the culture had been diluted, I suppose.

but also there was a bunch of oil under their land claim, so that didn't help.
posted by eustatic at 8:47 PM on August 31, 2019 [7 favorites]

When I was a provincial government customer service representative, there were a number of folks coming in with Metis cards, hoping to avoid taxation/receive gas rebates. Some major Metis associations provide cards indicating that the person had paid association dues; however, there is no vetting of the heritage claim. Some people are genuine, and aren't willing/able to undertake getting a true status card; others aren't genuine at all. As such, we turned away folks that didn't provide status cards; but told them to hold onto their receipts for possible compensation when the judgement finally takes hold in the Canadian system. If the governments do retroactive payments for tax exemption, it will be a lot of money returned to folks . Add proving your lineage to this, and it will be a mess.
posted by NorthernAutumn at 9:51 PM on August 31, 2019

Leroux is one of the guests on this podcast episode "The Serious Business of Self-Indigenization" from Media Indigena.
On its face, Indigenous identity would seem like it would be simple to understand who is and who isn’t First Nations, Inuit or Metis. That is, if you choose to look past the colonial elephant in the room. And yet, complicated and confusing as colonialism can make the identification process, it all comes down to knowing not only who claims which Nation or People—but which People or Nation claims them.

Featured voices this podcast include (in order of appearance): Writer, blogger and educator Cutcha Risling Baldy and Lakota activist and communications professional, Taté Walker; Kim TallBear, associate professor of Native Studies at the University of Alberta, and writer Terese Mailhot; CBC broadcaster and writer Waubgeshig Rice, and sports business columnist Jason Notte; Ken Williams, assistant professor, University of Alberta Department of Drama, and Brock Pitawanakwat, Associate Professor of Indigenous Studies at York University; Adam Gaudry, Associate Professor and Associate Dean of Native Studies at the University of Alberta, and Darryl Leroux, Associate Professor, Social Justice & Community Studies, Saint Mary’s University
posted by spamandkimchi at 7:22 PM on September 1, 2019

« Older Dr. Jen Gunter's vagenda: share accurate info...   |   The One About Where We All Realize Ross is Trash Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments