Date of Award:

2015

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Arts (MA)

Department:

History

Advisor/Chair:

Victoria Grieve

Abstract

Intimacy and family have been pillars of the North American fur trade since its conception. This is especially true for fur trading companies centered in Canada, specifically the Hudson’s Bay Company and the Northwest Company. Kinship ties formed through intimate relations between European fur traders and indigenous women allowed the fur trade to flourish and created an environment for stable, mixed heritage family units to emerge. As mixed heritage children grew into adulthood, they learned to identify with both sides of their parental cultures. However, the connections they formed with each other proved the most valuable and a separate, distinct culture emerged. In Canada this group of people are known as the Métis, a French word meaning mixed. The fur trade continued its move west and eventually reached the Pacific Ocean. This region known as the Pacific Northwest was the farthest removed from fur trade headquarters in Montreal and was home to many different Indigenous Nations. These nations, in combination with fur traders many of whom where Métis, also created families and a new culture once again came into being. It shared aspects of Métis, European, and indigenous cultures, but was something distinctly new. Through the examination of education, kinship ties, language and borders, this groups understanding of self and community came into focus.

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