Many Roads to Red River: Métis Genesis in the Great Lakes Region: 1680-1815

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Many Roads to Red River: Métis Genesis in the Great Lakes Region: 1680-1815



Name of document:

Many Roads to Red River, Métis Genesis in the Great Lakes Region: 1680-1815

Type of document:

Excerpt from the book, The New Peoples, Being and Becoming Métis in North America.

Summary of the data:

‘Many Roads to Red River, Métis Genesis in the Great Lakes Region: 1680-1815’ is one of many articles written by Jacqueline Peterson regarding the Métis outside of the Red River Settlement. The Red River Settlement is well known as the site of the First Riel Rebellion and is viewed as the culmination of Métis political conciousness. Her work served to expand the history of the Métis people to the Great Lakes region. In this particular article, Peterson argues that there is evidence of a historically significant population of Métis in the Great Lakes region by the year 1815.

According to Peterson, intermarriage is the result of an agreeable and stable social environment. Métis communities in the Great Lakes region are the descendants of French fur traders and Aboriginal Women. Consequently, many of the Métis settlements in and around the Great Lakes centered around fur trading posts. In fact, according to Peterson, widespread intermarriage between employees of the fur trade and Aboriginal Women is one of the key characteristics of the Great Lakes fur trading industry. Peterson argues that these settlements were, “if not self-consciously métis before 1815-were a people in the process of becoming. We know this because their distinctiveness was fully apparent to outsiders, if not to themselves” (39).

Peterson describes the progeny of said intermarriage after 1700 as standing apart, “or more precisely, in between” (41). The resulting towns and villages “were visually, ethnically and culturally distinct from neighboring Indian villages and ‘white towns’ along the eastern seaboard, stretched from Detroit to Michilimackinac at the east to Red River in the northwest” (41). According to Peterson, the permanent settlements established between 1702 and 1815-shared two distinct characteristics. First, they were “occupationally monolithic” and dependent on the fur trade (41). As a result, there was social equality and wealth was distributed evenly. Secondly, the settlements were largely populated with Métis, who were eventually intermarrying between themselves.

Peterson’s article and other works focus mainly on the Métis settlement at Fort Michilimackinac, which was the “commercial hub of the Great Lakes fur trade” (41). However, the article also notes that men settled in Fort Nipigon and Kaministiquia (along with a number of other posts listed in the 'Specific Locations Mentioned' section) between 1727 and 1750. It was at these settlements that independent Métis communities would develop during the eighteenth century. According to Peterson, the Great Lakes settlements were the result of two things. First, in 1716 Louis de la Porte Sieur de Louvigny left Quebec for the Great Lakes region with 425 men as well as farmers, carpenters and an armourer. Secondly, licensed trade was reopened and amnesty was extended to all coureurs de bois. As a result of these two events the population in the region multiplied.

Peterson concludes that, “by 1815, tangible evidence of a 150-year long alliance between men of the fur trade and native women was everywhere and in abundance” (62). Additionally, she notes that by the end of the 1820s the population of Métis communities in the South and West of Lakes Superior and Huron had reached ten to fifteen thousand. Ultimately, according to Peterson, “many human roads led Red River, and several of them stretched from the southeast, from the Great Lakes country” (64). Peterson’s other works continue to explore this time period in the Great Lakes region, please see the 'Documents, links and URLs' section for links to her other work. While Peterson's work does not address Red Sky Métis Independent Nation directly, it provides one of the first descriptions of Métis communities in the Great Lakes region prior to 1850 as distinct and cohesive entities.

Important dates mentioned in the document:

1716: Louis de la Porte Sieur de Louvigny left Quebec with 425 men, plus farmers, carpenters and an armourer for the straits of Mackinac. Additionally, licensed trade was reinstated and amnesty to all coureurs de bois. These two events resulted in a growth in the population in the posts in the Great Lakes region.
1777: Estimated that there were 5000 people living on the waterways of the North West (Peterson, 62).
1815: According to Peterson, at this point there was "tangible evidence of a 150-year long alliance between men of the fur trade and native women" (62).
1820s: Estimated that there were 10-15, 000 Métis residents in communities South and West of Lakes Superior and Huron (Peterson, 63).
1822: The Métis living in the Great Lakes region had made a "distinctive residential imprint" (Peterson, 63).

Important people discussed in the document:

Louis de la Porte Sieur de Louvigny
Augustin Langlade

Specific location(s) mentioned in the document (if applicable):

Michilimackinac (Mickinac), Michigan
Fort Michilimackinac, Michigan
Detroit, Michigan
Kaskaskia, Illinois
Fort Miamis (Fort Wayne), Indiana
Fort St. Joseph, Michigan
Fort St. Louis (now Starved Rock State Park), Illinois
Madeline Island, Wisconsin
Kaministquia (region surrounding the Kaministiquia River, Ontario)
Fort Beauharnois, Minnesota
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
Fort Ouiatenon, Indiana
Vincennes, Indiana
Fort Nipigon, Ontario

Non-specific location(s) mentioned in the document (if applicable):

Saint Lawrence River
Ports of the Sea of the West (Forts stretching Lake Winnipeg and beyond)
Maumee River, Indianan & Ohio
Great Lakes Region
Lake Superior
Lake Huron

Specific event(s) identified in the document (if applicable):

Pontiac's Rebellion, 1763
War of 1812

Relevant citations:

Peterson, Jacqueline. "Many Roads to Red River, Métis Genesis in the Great Lakes Region: 1680-1815." The New People: Being and Becoming Métis in North America. Ed. Jacqueline Peterson & Jennifer S.H. Brown. Winnipeg: The University of Manitoba Press, 1985. 37-71. Print.

---. "Prelude to Red River: A Social Portrait of Great Lakes Métis." American Society for Ethnohistory 25.1 (1978): 41-67. Print.

---. "Red River Redux: Métis Genesis in the Great Lakes Region." Counters of a People: Métis Family, Mobility and History. Ed. Nicole St.-Onge, Carolyn Podruchny and Brends Macdougall. Oklahoma: The University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Publishing, 2012. 22-58. Web. 20 January 2015.

Was the information found online (yes/no)?:

Yes. The book Contours of a People: Métis Family, Mobility and History found online using Google eBooks.

Document links and URLs (if applicable):

N/A

Date of access:

Contours of a People: Métis Family, Mobility and History accessed 20 January 2015.

Webmaster if identified (for online documents only):

Google eBooks.


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