Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
For the Métis people of Canada, see Métis people (Canada).
A métis is a person born to parents who belong to different groups defined by visible physical differences, chiefly colour of skin. The term is French, and a cognate of mestizo in Spanish. In the Western hemisphere these terms usually describe someone born of a European father and an aboriginal mother, or someone descended from someone born of a European father and an aboriginal mother.
In Canada the term usually designates a member of an ethnic group descended from the marriages, before 1870, of English, Scottish, and French men and Cree and Saulteaux women in Rupert's Land. Because it designates an ethnic group, in this sense Métis is capitalized.
Francophones regularly use the term to mean anyone who is born from two different racial or ethnic groups. As such, the child of an African and a European would also be considered métis. A person with more combinations is often called a "quarteron".
In Canada today, the term is sometimes used in a broad sense to identify all mixed-blood (aboriginal and European) people and non-treaty members of First Nations. Historically, in the 18th and 19th centuries, the word Métis identified a chiefly north-west society, dating from the seventeenth century, which had its own culture and economic traditions. Confusion about the term persists because there is no generally accepted rule for establishing whether someone is Métis. Métis receive no continuing benefits from the Canadian government like those provided to status members of First Nations, so there has until recently been little reason to establish an official definition. The recent extension of certain collective aboriginal rights to Métis as a result of a Supreme Court of Canada decision may make such a definition necessary, however.
While not universally accepted as an official defintion, the Métis National Council has established the following requirements for those wishing to register as Métis:
- self-identifies as Métis
- of historic Métis Nation Ancestry
- is distinct from other Aboriginal Peoples
- is accepted by the Métis Nation.
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