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Who are the Métis? : Olive Dickason and the emergence of a Métis historiography in the 1970s and 1980s Inoue, Margaret

Abstract

This paper examines contribution that historian, Olive Dickason, has made to Métis historiography. In doing so, it also examines the ways in which the origins of Métis culture and identity were represented in historical studies of the 1970s and 1980s. The question of who the Métis are is being raised publicly as a result of the recent Powley court decision. However, the question of Métis origins is not a new one; the 1970s and 1980s saw the first major period examining the history of the Métis. It was during this same period that Dickason completed her studies and produced her early work on North American contact. When determining Métis origins, the convention has been to focus on prairie peoples of French Catholic descent. Some works, though, examine Métis people outside of the prairies, pointing toward a more diverse understanding of Métis peoples and origins. While Olive Dickason follows many of the conventional patterns, she expands the literature by revealing a fluid development of Métis identity from the point of contact. In order to be able to speak of the Métis peoples and determine who has aboriginal rights as a Métis person, identity needs to be determined not only from external historical sources, but also from internal sources within the Métis communities.

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