Saint-Laurent, Manitoba: Evolving Métis Identities, 1850-1914

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University of Regina Press, 2004 - History - 137 pages
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For the past 25 years there has been great interest in the study of all aspects of the Red River Metis and their history. This has been paralleled by an increase in pride for, and greater affirmation of, Metis identity by the descendants of these first families. This is especailly true when one visits and speaks to the residents of the small Manitoba village of Saint-Laurent du Lac. However, this study contends that this was not always the case. Between 1850 and 1914 the residents of Saint-Laurent experienced a series of social and economic changes with both internal and extenal origins that affected them in a variety of ways. This author contends that, first, prior to 1880 the Metis of Saint-Laurent led a more diversified life than the Metis specialized in bison hunting. Second, their self-identification as MEtis did not follow clear and steadfast "rules" as has been argued in past studies. Third, economic variations within the lakeshore community had been growing from 1850 onward and produced complex social inter-relationships that affected self-identity. After 1914, only a fraction of the descendants of families identified as "Metis" in 1870 considered themselves or were considered by others as being of Metis origin. The reasons for such identification had more to do with economic well-being, lifestyle and class position than with genealogy and ancestry.
 

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Contents

Adapting to a New Order 18501871
23
The Crucial First Decade 18711881
41
Des Etranges arrivent 18811891
55
The Fragmentation of a Métis Community 18911901
71
Bibliography
121
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About the author (2004)

Nicole St-Onge is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of Ottawa.

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