The Métis are descendants of marriages of Cree, Ojibway, Saulteaux, and Menominee aboriginals to French Canadians, Scots and English, and are one of three recognized Aboriginal peoples in Canada, along with the First Nations (Indians) and Inuit (Eskimo). Their homeland consists of the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec, as well as the Northwest Territories. The Métis Homeland also includes parts of the northern United States (specifically Montana, North Dakota, and northwest Minnesota)
Their history dates to the mid-seventeenth century. The Métis spoke or still speak either Métis French or a mixed language called Michif. Michif is a phonetic spelling of the Métis pronunciation of Métif, a variant of Métis. The Métis today predominantly speak English, with French a strong second language, as well as numerous aboriginal tongues. Métis French is best preserved in Canada, Michif in the U.S., notably in the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation of North Dakota, where Michif is the official language. The encouragement and use of Métis French and Michif is growing due to outreach within the provincial Métis councils after at least a generation of decline.
The Métis figured prominently in the history of Canada, having been very valuable and indispensable fur traders, voyageurs (coureur des bois), frontiersmen, pioneers, and middlemen who communicated between the First Nations peoples and the European settlers and colonialists. Well known for their tracking, guiding, and interpretive skills, Métis were often employed by the Northwest Mounted Police, as they are today by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
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