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Experience Metis Culture and History In the 1960’s in northern Alberta, Oliver Travis trailed bucking horses from the west across country from a few hundred miles away so the Metis families could start holding bush rodeos. Still to this day, these families and communities gather for rodeos along with First Nations and local ranchers to create another ‘rodeo’ family. The diversity of connectors speaks to the history of the Metis roles as guides for explorers and as interpreters between First Nations, Government, and settlers due to the ability to speak many languages. On the European side, French and English were fluent and on the First Nations side Cree, Dene, and Ojibway were common. In the beginning, the combination of Cree and French shaped a unique language known as Michif, which is still spoken today – remaining the official recognized language of Metis people. Difficult times came about with settlement of the west and the Government establishing reserves for First Nations. The Metis struggled to secure their homes and communities. Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont lead the Red River Resistance from 1869 - 1870, which resulted in the Manitoba Act establishing land rights for the Metis. In 1885, the Northwest Resistance sought to protect Metis land. As a result Louis Riel, at the age of 41, was charged for high treason and hung in November.

Michel Quesnelle, North-West Mounted Police scout, 1875. Photo Courtesy of Glenbow Museum (na-3409-1)

Louis Riel, an iconic historical Canadian character said, “I am more convinced everyday that without a single exception I did right. And I have always believed that, as I have acted honestly, the time will come when the people of Canada will see and acknowledge it.” The historical timelines, and the aim for reconciliation and rights, encompasses a people sustained by a vital work ethic, resilience, and faith. Metis families today, pull together for days of music, dance, traditional food, healing and laughter. The essence of Metis resides in their blood, their dance steps and generational customs. Riding upon their trusted four legged partners – the horse – and stepping light to the Jig in the evenings, strumming songs from dusk ‘til dawn, walking the trapline, cooking bone marrow with bannock on the fire, making the sign of the cross, laying tabaco to give back to the land what they take, home fire keepers (Mothers), the providers (Fathers), the leaders of survival, all these and more thrive in the heart of Metis people. By: Carmen Houle

John McGillis, Metis, on bucking horse “Piebald” at Vulcan Stampede, Vulcan, Alberta. Photo Courtesy of Glenbow Museum (na-4354-9)

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