Indian Claims Commission Testimony Regarding Mixed-bloods as Part of, or Distinct from, the Chippewa Indians
The following is the result of Indian Claims Commission testimony of David B. Stoudt of the American Anthropological Association, Friday, September 21, 1962, regarding the issue of historical Metis, or half-breeds, as part of the Turtle Mountain and Pembina Bands, their historical development, and the exclusion of (or inclusion of) them as Indian, or as distinct from Indians.
Question: What do you understand "half -breed"' to be, or a mixed blood to be?
Answer: A person who first of all, would have to be a person of mixed biological background -- racially mixed.
Question: With some Indian blood in him?
Answer: Yes. Then, secondly, half-bred to me, is distinguished by a person who is sort of marginal with two different cultures in his or her background.
Question: In your study of the evidence did you discover that in many cases the half-breeds were members of these tribes or bands of Chippewas?
Answer: Yes, there were some that were biologically mixed who were living an Indian way of life and regarded themselves p as Indians.
Question: Where did you know the difference was, if some of them were members of the tribes and bands, how could you tell which ones were Indians and which ones were not?
Answer: By the references made by various observers who so consistently find it necessary in their recollections, sports, accounts, and the like, to make a distinction between two social groups, one of whom they called Indians, one of whom they called half-breeds.
Question: So you ended up with in some cases, considering half-breeds Chippewas and in some cases not, is that what it amounts to?
Answer: Yes. And this is a distinction that is based now primarily on cultural differences, not the biological ones. We have two processes running along here, sometimes independent, sometimes merged. One is a biological process, one is cultural.
Question: How is a half-breed determined, by the person himself or by somebody else?
Answer: I think I indicated this morning that I would prefer to make the distinction on the basis of their own self-identification and self-regard.
Question: So it could have been possible that many of these persons who called themselves half-breeds might have been full-blooded Indians, or vice versa, is that true?
Answer: The likelihood is here that if a person were full-blooded they wouldn't think of themselves as non-Indian.
Question: Well, if they were half-bloods, might they mistakenly perhaps consider themselves full-blooded Indians?
Answer: They might.
Question: It is very difficult to tell which is which in the study of history of these people, isn't that true?
Answer: Yes, and certainly it is difficult to tell how many of each there would be who are both biologically and culturally mixed, or persons, and distinguish that number from those who were biologically and culturally purely Indian.
Question: In these cases, where you had occasion to study these people, did you resolve any doubts in favor of the Indian being half-breed rather than a full-blood?
Answer: No, I don't believe I did.
Question: Would you say that the half-breed group of Chippewas was the larger percentage of it than other Indian tribes in North America at the time in question here?
Answer: I would be hesitant to make a statement like that.
Question: Have you studied any other tribes in North America in this connection?
Question: So you don't know whether there was a difference here than there was in other tribes?
Answer: I have the general feeling from review of the materials that in and near the subject area of this case there were a somewhat higher proportion of persons who were biologically and culturally mixed whom I called half-breed than in many other parts of North America, but I couldn't anchor this in exact numbers.
Question: That is just a feeling you have? There is no authority to give substance to that opinion?
Answer: The reason I have that feeling is they do emerge so early in the historical account.
Question: The half-breeds?
Question: How early did they emerge?
Answer: They make their appearance as soon as the Red River Valley settlements were made in the northeast area of the subject area.
Question: What time would that be approximately?
Answer: The very early 1800s.
Question: So that early in the history of this entire influence of the mixture evidenced itself, is that correct?
Question: And a great proportion of these people were of that mixture, is that true?
Question: But they nevertheless conducted themselves and were considered as Indian tribes, as members of the Indian tribes, is that right?
Answer: There might have been some that were members of an Indian group, yes.
Question: Do you mean it is possible that that could have been true? Don't you know as a matter of fact most of these tribes considered many of their half-breeds as full members of their tribes?
Answer: Oh, yes, indeed.
Question: And they were so considered by the United States in their dealings with them?
Answer: Very often, yes.
Question: Were there any cases where they weren't?
Answer: Well, I recall the McCumber Commission period, in which there was very systematic attempts to make this very kind of distinction between those who were, shall I say, legitimate members of the Indian group and those who were really not members of it, who were called half-breeds.
Question: Was that McCumber's doing, or his committee, that brought about that?
Answer: I don't remember the details of exactly how that committee was formed.
Question: At that time they we pretty active in striking people off the rolls that were against the approval of the McCumber agreement, isn't that so?
Question: But in McCumber's negotiations, or hearings that he held, he made no distinction between the members of that group, whether they were mixed-bloods or full-bloods, is that true? Wasn't the determination whether they were part Canadians or not?
Answer: I believe that was the major one.
Question: Even McCumber recognized as Indians those people of mixed-blood who were qualified members in his judgment of the Turtle Mountain group, is that right?
Answer: Yes, that is right.
Testimony before the Indian Claims Commission. Dockets #213, 191, 221, 246, and 350.
A collaborative effort of members of the Ojibwe and Metis communities