The Metis cultural brokers and the western numbered treaties, 1869-1877
Throughout the history of the North West, Metis people frequently used their knowledge of European, Indian, and Metis culture to mediate Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal social, diplomatic, and economic encounters. Though acknowledged in Metis historiography, this aspect of Metis identity has not been the focus of scholarly analysis, which has primarily centred on Louis Riel, Metis resistance, and ethnogenesis. By closely examining the primary documents, it is evident that the Metis interpreters present at Treaties 1 through 7 were more than merely translators. Prior to negotiations these Metis had interacted with First Nations in a variety of ways, whether in the fur trade or in missionary endeavours. Metis people were well versed in Aboriginal language and cultural traditions, skills they had employed successfully in Rupert's Land prior to 1870. In drawing upon this amicable relationship between Metis and First Nations, Canadian officials in the North West recognized the positive effect of personal diplomacy on securing First Nations signatures to the treaty documents. In this thesis many examples will demonstrate that the actions of Metis people were critical in preventing violence between groups, thereby enabling the treaty process to begin. These Metis individuals moved within a middle ground of context that developed in the era prior to the 1870's, thus indicating a measure of continuity between the pre- and post transition period in the Canadian West.
Metis interpreters, Canada - North West - Treaty negotiations, Canada - First Nations - Numbered treaties
Master of Arts (M.A.)