Kinship studies are the hallmark of anthropological research into Native American societies, while genealogical reconstruction is common in historical studies of the Metis. The study of kinship has a twofold outcome. It reveals the worldview of various indigenous societies as evidenced by their construction of family and other relationships. But it also serves as a means to document their differences, culturally and socially, from mainstream North American society. Genealogical research, conversely, reveals little about the mentalité of the Metis because its purpose is simply to establish a documentary link between living and historical generations. The primary records sought in such work are then used to reconstitute the lives of particular individuals within the family but are not used to evaluate the connection those individuals had to the establishment of communities or their role within a societal framework defined by a worldview. By merging kinship and genealogical methods, the research presented here reconstructs Metis genealogies in northwestern Saskatchewan, not to trace any one individual but rather to analyze the emergence of a community over time through family interconnections, and it seeks to articulate the worldview of the people as expressed through cultural norms and practices. By bridging the methodological approaches and sources, we can produce a transformative approach to studying the Metis.
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Brenda Macdougall; Speaking of Metis: Reading Family Life into Colonial Records. Ethnohistory 1 January 2014; 61 (1): 27–56. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00141801-2376069
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