French River Metis Tribe

MÉTIS CULTURE

Métis Flag

 

                                                

                     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%A9tis_Flag

The Métis Flag was first used by Métis resistance fighters in Canada prior to the Battle of Seven Oaks in 1816. The flag is either blue or red with a white infinity symbol superimposed on top. The blue flag is used to associate the Métis employees of the Northwest Company, while the red   represents the Métis who worked for the Hudson's Bay Company (see Anglo-Métis). The symbol represents the mixing of the European immigrants  and the First Nations peoples, which creates a new and distinct culture, the Métis.

The blue background flag has been accepted by the Métis National Assembly as the official flag of the Métis Nation of Canada. The red flag now stands as the provincial ensign for the Métis Nation of Alberta.

The white infinite symbol on the flag represents the faith that the Métis culture shall live forever. It can also be perceived as two conjoined circles, standing for the unity of two cultures, Aboriginal and European.

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    http://www.metisnation.org/culture/culture_links/flag.html    

 

Recognized merely as a horizontal figure 8 by many settlers, the Métis flag was carried by the French 'half-breeds' with pride. The figure in the centre of a blue field represents the joining of two cultures and as an infinity symbol, represents the immortality of a nation.

     As the Métis were strongly associated with the North West Company, a fur trading entity in competition with the HBC, they often fought for NWC causes. As part of a gift giving ceremony in 1814, NWC partner Alexander MacDonnell presented the Métis with this flag, which would soon become a trademark for the nation. Today, the Métis flag is still used and carried as a symbol of continuity and pride.

                                        

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The Métis Sash

                                        

              Woodland Métis Sash          Western Métis Sash

 Here are some excerpts from a Metis priest's prayer. "Metis people, God, have been wearing the sash proudly for many years. When I look at it, I notice that it is composed of many interconnected threads, many strands, many patterns, many colors contribute to the overall design of the sash. Our Metis culture God is like the sash. The lives of the Metis have been woven together from a variety of cultures, traditions and beliefs ... For example, God, we are the descendants of the English, of the French, of the Indian-Cree and Ojibway and Scots to name a few. We speak a variety of languages: English, Canadian French, Michif French, Michif Cree and Mashkegon. Look at the sash: it is a composite. It is a mixture. It is Metis. It is made of a variety of elements, like the lives of the Metis. Look at its pattern, its fabric, its colors. Nonetheless, these disparate elements form an integrated whole. Similarly, the different ethnic backgrounds and different languages to the Metis blend into one another to form a rich tapestry like the lives and culture of the Metis." 

Today, the sash is still worn by the Métis people.  Métis women ocasionally wear it over the shoulder, while others wear it the traditional way, around the waist & tied in the middle, with the fringes hanging down. 

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The sash did not only hold sentimental and cultural values to the Metis, it also served practical functions.  It was used as a tumpline (scarf that holds heavy objects to the back), first aid kit, rope, wash cloth and towel, saddle blanket and the ends could also serve as an emergency sewing kit on trips.

Taking its name from the Quebec town where it was produced, L'Assomption sash was also known as the "Ceinture Flechee".  It was not only functional but colourful and identifiable as Metis apparel.  Today, it is known simply as the "Metis Sash".

The distinct and identifying colours are : Yellow, Black, Red, White, Blue, Green and Purple.

YELLOW :  represents the East - the Yellow Race -  Depicting the sun and also the potential for prosperity.

BLACK:  represents the South - the Black Race - The dark period of repression and dispossession..

RED:  represents the West - the Red Race - The blood of the Metis shed through the years while fighting for our rights. Also one half of the traditional color of our people.

WHITE:  represents the North - the White Race - Our connection to the Earth and our Creator. The color light and of the infinity symbol of our flag representing our 2 peoples mixed and traveling together forever.  Also the other half of the traditional color of our people.

BLUE:  represents the depth of our spirit, the sky and the water and the color of our Flag.

GREEN:  represents Mother Earth and  for the forests. The growth, fertility, prosperity of a great Nation. Along with the expansion and success of the Métis Nation and the reclaiming of their honorable status in Canada.

PURPLE:  represents the depth of our spirit, our connection to the Creator and all living things.

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Métis National Anthem

Proud to be Métis

 

In the forest on the river, and across the western plain,
As the white man journeyed westward, to the land of Indian.


A new race was created, a new nation rose up strong.
Hardship as its destiny, and its curse to not belong.


In the land from which they came, in the land they helped to build.
They found themselves the alien, found their vision unfulfilled.


And despite their valiant effort, to defend what they believe.
When at last the battle ended, they were only left to grieve.

 

We are proud to be Métis, watch our Nation rise again.
Never more forgotten people, we’re the true Canadian.

 

From Across the plain they traveled, from Red River to the Peace.
Looking for their homeland, that would help them to replace
All the land that had been taken, and the dreams that had been dashed.


Their brave heroes now called traitors, and courageous deeds now past.
But their spirit was not broken, and their dreams never died.


Their determination strengthened even while the people cried,
As they waited for the battle, that would end their years of pain.
And the final bloodless battle, when the Nation rose again.

 

We are proud to be Métis, watch a Nation rise again.
Never more forgotten people, we’re the true Canadian.

 

For this newest generation, and the future ones to come.
With the past to motivate us, it will help to keep us strong.


As we build the Métis Nation, as we watch it rise again,
Our past lost it’s motivation, to inspire our future gain.

 

We are proud to be Métis, watch a Nation rise again.
Never more forgotten people, we’re the true Canadian.

 

We are proud to be Métis, watch a Nation rise again.
Never more forgotten people, we’re the true Canadian.

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                 TRADITIONAL METIS FOODS


(Recipes Link at bottom of page) 

Traditional Metis homes are well known for a pot of soup simmering on the stove, and a pot of tea ot the ready for family and visitors.  Oven-baked Bannock was a staple bread and eaten fresh as food did not sit for long in a large Metis family.  Extra wild meat was always shared in the community and borrowing of staple food products was a common practice. It is often said that the communal lifestyle of the Metis was disrupted by the introduction of electricity and freezers into the Metis communities. Hoarding of food was unnatural, not practical and unheard of.

Metis soups have survived throughout the centuries. Besides being a time-honoured comfort food for Metis families, Metis soup can heal, and prevent many illnesses by incorporating all kinds of nutritious foods in a single pot. Soup bones, fish, beans, barley, rice, peas, root vegetables, onions, tomatoes, macaroni, are some of the ingredients used in Metis soups and recipes exist only for combinations not measured amounts.

To feed unexpected visitors, the Metis simply added more to the soup pot. The old sayings, "You are what you eat," and "let food be your medicine and medicine your food," will bring to mind the old  Metis soup pot simmering on the stove.

Traditional food include:

LA GALLETE

(BANNOCK)

LES BAIGNE

(FRIED BREAD)

LA RUBABOO

(METIS SOUP)

LES BOULETTES

(MEATBALLS)

LES TORTIERE

(MEAT PIE)

SOUPE AU POIS

(PEA SOUP)

POUTINE AU SAC

(STEAMED PUDDING)

SOUPE AU BIN

(BEAN SOUP)

LE FLAON

(CUSTARD)

PEMMICAN

 

Audreen Hourie
Metis Cultural-Historical Researcher
1997

http://www.metisresourcecentre.mb.ca/history/recipes.htm

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Campfire Bannock

  • 4 cups flour
  • 8 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • about 3 cups cold water

Mix dry ingredients thoroughly and stir in enough water to make a thick batter that will pour out level. Mix rapidly with spoon until smooth. Pour into large greased frying pan and set on hot coals. Turn when bottom is brown. Cook until no dough sticks to a sliver of wood poked into the middle.

http://www.netwoods.com/cooking/bannock.html

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Metis Bannock Recipe #175091

We Metis love our bannock and this is my favourite recipe for it. It's great with soup, or just on it's own with jam or honey.
40 min | 15 min prep | SERVES 4 -6
3 cups all-purpose flour (or whole wheat flour)
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup margarine (or butter or shortening)
3/4-1 cup milk (or water)
  1. Mix flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
  2. Work in the margarine using hands until you make a nice crumble. If you have Olivina margarine in your area, I find this makes for the best bannock.
  3. Gradually mix in enough milk to make soft but not sticky. Knead.
  4. Shape into a ball, place on a greased baking sheet, then flatten into a circle about 1 inch thick.
  5. Bake at 425°F (220°C) for 25 minutes or until lightly browned.

http://www.recipezaar.com/recipe/print?id=175091

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Wild Rice Bannock

  •  3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 2 cups cooked cooled wild rice
  • 1/3 cup butter, diced small 

 

Mix all ingredients except water together. When mixed, pour water into the centre of the dry ingredients and mix as you would pie dough. Roll out to 1/4 " thick and cut into desired shapes. Deep fry at 550 F or in frying pan in canola oil over medium high heat. 

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COUREUR DE BOIS CASSEROLE

A recipe of the North Shore Metis

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 to 2 lbs of wild game suitable for roasting - caribou, moose, deer or hare

1/4 lb salted fatty lard

2 medium onions cut in pieces

2 cups of cold water

Make some grandfather's dough based on the bannock recipe

METHOD:

Preheat the oven to 325.  On the stove, in an ovenproof casserole - melt thin slices of the salted lard - add the pieces of onion and brown them lightly - add the pieces of meat- add the water - it should be very cold to that the meat retains its juice.

Cover the casserole and put in the oven.  Cook at 325 F half an hour, then lower the temperature to 225F and cook for between 3 to 6 hours, depending o nthe meat chosen.  Half an hour before the end of the cooking time, add some sliced potatoes and spoonfuls of dough (see the bannock recipe) to the cooking broth all around the meat.

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MÉTIS FIDDLE

http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=U1ARTU0001206

Métis Fiddle Music

     The fiddle is the main instrument used in Métis Music. In the early days, fiddles were hard to obtain and expensive. The Métis simply made their own from maple wood and birch bark. While most music is contained in a bar structure, traditional Métis fiddle music is not. The Métis style of fiddling is unique in North America and can be heard across Northern Western Canada and the United States. The fiddle plays the melody, tells the story, and many Métis legends are recorded in fiddle tunes. Rhythm is supplied by toe tapping or spoons and the uneven and irregular beats of the fiddle created a bounce in Métis jigging that is as unique as the fiddling itself. The extra beats make the Métis jig a rapid moving dance and though similar to the Scots - Irish stepdance, the Métis jig is definitely unique in style. Another Métis tradition is called Turlutage. This is essentially the beating out of rhythm with spoons or the low section, the dancer does a fancy jig step, accompanied by syllables hummed to simple melodies.

     There is a strong Gaelic influence in Métis fiddle music and some tunes have retained their original names while others have no name at all. Traditional Métis music and dance has survived over the centuries, however, oral tradition requires that master fiddlers continue to teach. Like the original Orkney fiddlers who over time began to play by note in the bar structure, Métis Fiddlers can also be influenced and the unique sound of Métis style fiddle would be lost.

     It is said:  If a Metis has a fiddle he doesn't need sleep" !

     The Metis are known as great fiddle players and step dancers.  Both the fiddle playing and the dancing came from the French and the Scots.  The Metis adapted them to their culture, often adding footwork from the Native dances and making their own fiddles.

     Traditional musical intruments of the Metis include: the fiddle, the concertina, the harmonica and spoons.  The main intrument, however, is the fiddle.

     Metis style fiddle music is an oral tradition handed down for centuries.  The fiddle plays the music, tells the story: many Metis legends are recorded in fiddle tunes and songs.

     Rhythm is supplied by toe-tapping or keeping time with spoons.  The irregular beats of the fiddle creates a bounce in the Metis step dancing or jigging that is as unique as the fiddle itself.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

                Gaetan Serré           www.gaetanserre.com