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A Métis is a person born to parents who belong to different groups defined by visible physical differences, regarded as racial, or the descendant of such persons. The term is of French origin, and also is a cognate of mestizo in Spanish, mestiço in Portuguese, and mestee in English. In the Western Hemisphere, this term usually is used to describe someone born or descended from the union of a European and an Amerindian. However, the term was used by other groups around the world, mostly in countries which were under French influence, such as Vietnam. It is still commonly used by Francophones today for any multiracial person.



In Canada, the term usually designates a constitutionally recognized individual born of an Aboriginal group, descended primarily from the marriages of Scottish and French men to Cree, Saulteaux, and Ojibwa women in southern Rupert's Land starting in the late 17th century, and the marriages of French women to Ojibway men starting in Quebec in the middle 17th century. Anglo- as opposed to Franco-Métis in Canada were at one time distinguished by language, the Franco-Métis speaking French and the Anglo-Métis (then known as the Country-born) speaking Bungee, a pidgin language derived from Scot-Gaelic and Cree. The use of Bungee has waned and Anglo-Métis increasingly identify simply as undifferentiated Métis or as undifferentiated anglophone Canadians with aboriginal antecedents.

Their constitutional rights are represented by a growing number of organisations in Canada, such as the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF), and the United States, including the Métis National Council. The MMF voices issues (mainly of self-government) directly to the Government of Canada and internationally, but these issues are usually limited to the Métis of the western regions of Canada. Other Canadian organizations serving Métis interests include the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada. The recently founded Council of Diaspora Métis is an organization serving Métis people living outside of North America, usually within the territory of the European Union.


Mestee is derived from Middle French Mestis (pronounced the same), which became Métis in modern French. This is cognate with Mestizo in Spanish and Mestiço in Portuguese, all ultimately deriving from Latin mixtus meaning "mixed". Many dictionaries incorrectly attribute it to a corruption of mestizo.

American Indian scholar Jack D. Forbes attempted to revive the term Mestee as a term for the old mixed-race groups in his book Africans and Native Americans: The Language of Race and the Evolution of Red-Black Peoples (1993)[1]. The term is not commonly used in the US.

See also



  • Barkwell, Lawrence J., Leah Dorion, and Audreen Hourie. Metis legacy Michif culture, heritage, and folkways. Metis legacy series, v. 2. Saskatoon: Gabriel Dumont Institute, 2006. ISBN 0920915809
  • Barkwell, Lawrence J., Leah Dorion and Darren Prefontaine. Metis Legacy: A Historiography and Annotated Bibliography. Winnipeg: Pemmican Publications Inc. and Saskatoon: Gabriel Dumont Institute, 2001. ISBN 1-894717-03-1

Simple English

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