Negotiating Métis culture in Michif: Disrupting Indigenous language shift
Author(s)Iseke, Judy M.
Contributor(s)The research was supported by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Canada Research Chairs Program, and Canadian Foundation for Innovation Fund. Support for this research was also provided by Lakehead University.
Colonization, Globalization, Indigenous Language Shift, Indigenous Language Revitalization, Michif language, Metis peoples
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AbstractLanguage contact, shift, and multilingualism are social processes inherent within power relationships under colonization and globalization that have shifted the values of languages and impacted cultures based upon political power. To explore understandings of language, colonization and globalization in regard to Indigenous peoples, the article considers the case of language negotiations amongst the Métis - Indigenous peoples of Canada and Northern United States who speak Michif. Michif is a contact language created in the 1800’s under the forces of colonization but which is increasingly affected by the dominance of the English language under continuing colonization and globalization. This article shares discussions with Métis Elders who focus attention on 1) The Meaning of Nehiyewak Language in Métis Communities, 2) Negotiating Identities through Language in Métis Contexts, and 3) Importance of Sharing Stories in Indigenous Languages and Relationships to Land. Discussion follows of lifestyles, racial categories and repression of identities, languages and relationships to self and culture, relationships to English, and language revitalization. Conclusions suggest some of the many forms that Michif language retention and revitalization might take as options for the future.