An Essay on Metis Heritage in the 21st Century
Metis Heritage is the summation of our inherited traditions, artifacts, culture, and links to the past. Most important, it is the range of contemporary activities, meanings, and behaviors that we obtain from them.
Metis Heritage includes, but is much more than simply having a Native ancestor. It is both tangible and intangible. It is a legacy of songs, foodways and recipes, language and nicknames, dances, and many other elements that we inherited from our ancestors and which help us to identify ourselves.
Metis Heritage is, and should be, the subject of active personal and public reflection, contemplation, and discussion. “Where did we come from?”; “What have we lost?”; “What is worth saving?”; “What can we, or should we, forget?”; “What memories can we enjoy, regret, or learn from?”; and (especially) “Who owns the past and the right to claim the identity of Metis?” These are all questions that need to be answered.
Metis Heritage also involves deciding who is entitled to speak for past generations and who should lead the current Metis Nation. Active public discussion about material and intangible heritage—the intellectual property of individuals, families, and communities—must take place as we move forward in the modern, multicultural world.
Metis Heritage is a contemporary activity with far-reaching effects. It can be an element of far-sighted work as a nation and is the platform for political recognition and reconciliation. It is a medium for intercultural dialogue, a means of ethical reflection, and the potential basis for economic development that benefits present and future generations.
Metis Heritage is simultaneously individual and communal; local and global. It is an essential part of our past, the present we live in, and of the future we will build for our children and their children.