Metis Fiddling: A Matter of Identity

UNCP Author/Contributor (non-UNCP co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Sarah Middleton (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP )
Web Site:
Dr. Joshua Busman

Abstract: The Metis, descendants of French and English fur traders and Native American women, have been politically and socially sidelined for centuries - branded as half-breeds or mixed - and the 1982 Constitution Act which finally granted them Aboriginal status in Canada is not the end of the story. In this paper, we will look at a brief history of the Metis struggle for recognition and identity and then focus in on the specific ways that the Metis fiddle tradition has mirrored this struggle. Although it could be dismissed as simply a holdover from French and British fiddle traditions of colonial times, we will see instead that the Metis fiddle has become a syncretic instrument that continues and exemplifies many of the traditions and values of Native heritage, including oral history, percussion, dance, and rhythm. Over the past two hundred years, the Metis have taken the fiddle and developed their own musical style which, although similar to European traditions, bears many uniquely aboriginal characteristics and values. This parallels the Metis’ struggle for identity as they have come to terms with what it means to be Metis in a world that often seeks to define race and identity solely by ancestry. Just as the Metis fiddle tradition has descended from several different traditions, but become its own distinct tradition, the Metis have also forged their own unique sense of identity and culture.

Additional Information

Honors Project
Esther G. Maynor Honors College
Language: English
Date: 2018
The Metis, Metis Identity and Culture, Native American Heritage, Metis Fiddle Tradition, Musical Styles
Métis -- History
Métis -- Ethnic identity

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