BIA Memo to congress, Feb 11, 1971
A February 11, 1971, memo by the Bureau of Indian Affairs discussed the issuance of Pembina Judgement Funds in relation to how many people of Metis ancestry would possibly be eligible for distribution of Treaty funds. In discussing the Metis, the memo states:
“Metis (French for "half") does not merely mean "half-blood" or "half-breed", but has a much broader connotation, referring to a large cultural and sociological element formed during the buffalo hide trading era in the northern Plains. The Metis have French and other European ancestry, and Plains Chippewa, Plains Cree and other Indian ancestry. By the early part of the last century the Metis had developed a distinct culture, marginal to that of the tribal peoples and the Anglicized societies of both the United States and Canada. They were also linguistically distinct, having developed the "Metis jargon" which is sometimes called "Cree" but is predominantly French with many Chippewa and Cree elements.”
“By the late 1880's the Turtle Mountain area became inundated with Metis who had fled Canada after unsuccessful rebellions in 1869-70 and 1885. These people, together with some Metis who have evidently long been associated with the Pembina Band, and the conservative (called "full blood") Turtle Mountain or Pembina Chippewas formed the modern Turtle Mountain Band, the political entity constituted in 1932. The non-Metis or original Pembina form a small, conspicious conservative Indian minority on the reservation or in the Turtle Mountain area. It is not known how many other members of the Turtle Mountain Band will be able to trace Pembina ancestry to any useful rolls. Research does indicate, however, that annuity payments made under the 1863 treaty involved, almost exclusively, Chippewa Indian names, the well-known French or other European names of the Metis being absent. Some Metis, apparently those who have long been associated with the Pembinas, are able to trace their ancestry to persons whose names were distinctly Chippewa and who were undeniably Pembina”.
The memo continues…
“A non-reservation based element must also be considered in the disposition of the award. Pembina descendants, in unknown numbers, are found among the group generally called "Landless Indians of Montana". Most of these people are Metis, and as mentioned previously, some Metis will be able to trace Pembina ancestry to old annuity rolls. Some of the landless people are traditional Chippewas who, for a variety of reasons, were unwilling or unable to enroll with the organized Turtle Mountain and Chippewa-Cree groups. An area called "Hill 57" in Great Falls is probably the best known community of the landless people. Others are found elsewhere in Great Falls, and in Hays, Wolf Point, Helena, Chinook, other towns and cities, and among various reservation-based groups, generally as the spouses of enrolled tribal members.”
“Past efforts to enroll the landless people with organized reservation-based groups have been largely unsuccessful, although some were enrolled in the 1930's with the Chippewa-Cree Tribe. There have been several organizations among them such as the "Little Shell Band of Chippewa Indians of Montana", also known as the "Landless Indians of Montana, petitioners in Indian Claims Commission docket No. 191, and the "Montana Landless Indians, Inc." It should be emphasized here that while rolls of landless Indians of Montana have been developed and are available to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, such rolls were made primarily in an effort to seek means of obtaining Federal services and land for these people and to assist them in affiliating with reservation based tribes. While they are relied upon to reflect the Indian blood of the persons listed thereon, they are not of value in determining Pembina ancestry.”
A collaborative effort of members of the Ojibwe and Metis communities