From New Peoples to New Nations: Aspects of Metis History and Identity from the Eighteenth to the Twenty-first Centuries

From New Peoples to New Nations: Aspects of Metis History and Identity from the Eighteenth to the Twenty-first Centuries

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By Gerhard J. Ens and Joe Sawchuk
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2015
World Rights
704 Pages 14 Images
ISBN 9781442627116
Published Dec 2015
Online discount: 15%
 $48.95    $41.61
ISBN 9781442649781
Published Dec 2015
Online discount: 25%
 $95.00    $71.25
ebook (EPUB format)
ISBN 9781442621503
Published Jan 2016
Online discount: 14%
Full purchase $48.95

From New Peoples to New Nations is a broad historical account of the emergence of the Metis as distinct peoples in North America over the last three hundred years. Examining the cultural, economic, and political strategies through which communities define their boundaries, Gerhard J. Ens and Joe Sawchuk trace the invention and reinvention of Metis identity from the late eighteenth century to the present day. Their work updates, rethinks, and integrates the many disparate aspects of Metis historiography, providing the first comprehensive narrative of Metis identity in more than fifty years.

Based on extensive archival materials, interviews, oral histories, ethnographic research, and first-hand working knowledge of Metis political organizations, From New Peoples to New Nations addresses the long and complex history of Metis identity from the Battle of Seven Oaks to today’s legal and political debates.

Gerhard J. Ens is a professor in the Department of History at the University of Alberta.

Joe Sawchuk is a professor emeritus in the Department of Anthropology at Brandon University.


Part I: Hybridity and Patterns of Ethnogenesis

Chapter One: Race and Nation: Changing Ethnological and Historical Constructions of Hybridity

Chapter Two: Economic Ethnogenesis: The Fur Trade and Metissage in the 18th and 19th Centuries

Part II: The Genesis and Development of the Idea of the Metis Nation to 1930

Chapter Three: Fur Trade Wars, the Battle of Seven Oaks, and the Idea of the Metis Nation, 1811–1849

Chapter Four: Louis Riel and the Religion of Metis Nationalism, 1869–1885

Chapter Five: L’Union Nationale Métisse Saint-Joseph, A.H. Tremaudan, and the Reimagining of the Metis Nation, 1910–1930s

Part III: Government Policy and Metis Status in the 19th Century

Chapter Six: The Manitoba Act and the Creation of Metis Status

Chapter Seven: Extinguishing Rights and Inventing Categories: Metis Scrip as Policy and Self Ascription

Chapter Eight: Indian Treaty versus Metis Scrip: The Permeability of Status Categories and Ethnicities

Chapter Nine: The United States/Canada Border and the Bifurcation of the Plains Metis 1870–1900

Part IV: Economic Marginalization and the Metis Political Response 1896–1960s

Chapter Ten: St. Paul des Metis Colony 1896–1909: Identity as Pathology

Chapter Eleven: Political Mobilization in Alberta and the Metis Betterment Act of 1938

Chapter Twelve: The Liberals, the CCF, and the Metis of Saskatchewan, 1935–1964

Chapter Thirteen: Social Science and the Metis, 1950–1970

Part V: Politics, the Courts, and the Constitution: Reformulating Metis Identities

Chapter Fourteen: A Renewed Political Awareness, 1965–2000

Chapter Fifteen: Reformulated Identities, 1965–2013

Chapter Sixteen: The Metis of Ontario

Chapter Seventeen: The Metis of the Northwest Territories

Chapter Eighteen: Ethnic Symbolism: Re-interpreting and Recreating the Past


From New Peoples to New Nations represents a thorough and comprehensive study of the multiple inventions of Metis ethnicity and nationality through history. This book brings the critical debates surrounding national historiography to Metis studies and will stimulate debate throughout anthropology and history in Canada and beyond.”

David Dinwoodie, Department of Anthropology, University of New Mexico

“Gerhard Ens and Joe Sawchuk have produced a compelling piece of work – one that will inform and contribute to ongoing debates within Métis studies for years to come. In From New Peoples to New Nations these two eminent scholars combined years of scholarly research, analyses, and interpretations on the Métis to produce an innovative and illuminating study anchored in the belief that Métis ethnicity and identity are constructed both from outsider views and the Métis’ own self-identities in a never-ending dialogic process. This is a ‘big’ book both in the historical time span covered and geographic space encompassed and I welcome the two authors’ efforts. Few academics would have been willing to undertake such a herculean task.”

Nicole St-Onge, Department of History, University of Ottawa

‘Ens and Sawchuck have written the most comprehensive and balanced view of Métis history to date, which will provide much-needed context for all who seek to better understand who the Métis are and the centuries of struggle they have faced…. Highly recommended.’

B.F.R. Edwards, Choice Magazine vol 54:02:2016

From New Nations to New Peoples offers an important update to Métis history and historiography… Ens and Sawchuck’s novel approach to the topic allows them to convincingly posit that Métis ethno-genesis is perpetual and continues to the present day via "dialogical processes".

Émilie Pigeon, Labour/Le Travail vol 78:2016

‘As a result of its diligent research and unique analytical perspective, From New Peoples to New Nations will be a valuable resource for anyone interested in historical and contemporary Métis identities.’

Gabrielle Legault, BC Studies winter 2016/17

Canada Prize in the Humanities and Social Sciences (Canada) - Short-listed in 2017
CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title (United States) - Winner in 2016