“Métis”: Race, Recognition, and the Struggle for Indigenous Peoplehood

UBC Press
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Ask any Canadian what “Métis” means, and they will likely say “mixed race.” Canadians consider Métis mixed in ways that other indigenous people are not, and the census and courts have premised their recognition of Métis status on this race-based understanding.

According to Andersen, Canada got it wrong. Our very preoccupation with mixedness is not natural but stems from more than 150 years of sustained labour on the part of the state and others. From its roots deep in the colonial past, the idea of “Métis as mixed” has pervaded the Canadian consciousness until it settled in the realm of common sense. In the process, “Métis” has become a racial category rather than the identity of an indigenous people with a shared sense of history and culture.

Andersen asks all Canadians to consider the consequences of adopting a definition of “Métis” that makes it nearly impossible for the Métis nation to make political claims as a people.

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About the author

Chris Andersen is an associate professor, the associate dean (research), and the director of the Rupertsland Centre for Métis Research in the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta. He is also the current editor of aboriginal policy studies, an online, peer-reviewed journal dedicated to publishing on Métis, non-Status Indian, and urban Aboriginal issues in Canada and abroad. He is co-editor of Indigenous in the City: Contemporary Identities and Cultural Innovation (UBC Press, 2013).
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Additional Information

UBC Press
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Published on
May 12, 2014
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History / Canada / General
Social Science / Discrimination & Race Relations
Social Science / Ethnic Studies / Native American Studies
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