Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
September 2004

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia


Mixed-blood Indians



[This text was originally published in 1907 by the Bureau of American Ethnology as part of its Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico . It was later reproduced, in 1913, by the Geographic Board of Canada. The work done by the American Bureau was monumental, well informed and incorporated the most advanced scholarship available at the time. In many respects, the information is still useful today, although prudence should be exercised and the reader should consult some of the contemporary texts on the history and the anthropology of the North American Indians suggested in the bibliographic introduction to this section. The articles were not completely devoid of the paternalism and the prejudices prevalent at the time. While some of the terminology used would not pass the test of our "politically correct" era, most terms have been left unchanged by the editor. If a change in the original text has been effected it will be found between brackets [.] The original work contained long bibliographies that have not been reproduced for this web edition. For the full citation, see the end of the text.]



Mixed-bloods. To gauge accurately the amount of Indian blood in the veins of the white population of the American continent and to determine to what extent the surviving aborigines have in them the blood of their conquerors and supplanters is impossible in the absence of scientific data. But there is reason to believe that intermixture has been much more common than is generally assumed. The [Inuit] of Greenland and the Danish traders and colonists have intermarried from the first, so that in the territory immediately under European supervision hardly any pure natives remain. The marriages of Danish fathers and [Inuit] mothers have been very fertile [.]. According to Packard (Beach, Ind. Miscel., 69, 1877) the last full-blood [Inuit] on Belleisle str., Labrador, was in 1859 the wife of an Englishman at Salmon bay. The Labrador intermixture has been largely with fishermen from Newfoundland of English descent.


Some of the Algonquian tribes of Canada mingled considerably with the Europeans during the French period, both in the E. and toward the interior. In recent years certain French-Canadian writers have unsuccessfully sought to minimize this intermixture. In the Illinois-Missouri region these alliances were favoured by the missionaries from the beginning of the 18 th   century. As early as 1693 a member of the La Salle expedition married the daughter of the chief of the Kaskaskia. Few French families in that part of the country are free from Indian blood. The establishment of trading posts at Detroit, Mackinaw, Duluth, etc., aided the fusion of races. The spread of the activities of the Hudson 's Bay Company gave rise in the Canadian Northwest to a population of mixed-bloods of considerable historic importance, the offspring of Indian mothers and Scotch, French, and English fathers [these are called the Métis]. Manitoba, at the time of its admission into the dominion, had some 10,000 mixed-bloods, one of whom, John Norquay afterward became premier of the Provincial government. Some of the employees of the fur companies who had taken Indian wives saw their descendants flourish in Montreal and other urban centres. The tribes that have furnished the most mixed-bloods are the Cree and Chippewa, and next the Sioux, of N. W. Canada; the Chippewa, Ottawa , and related tribes of the Great lakes; and about Green bay, the Menominee. Toward the Mississippi and beyond it were a few Dakota and Blackfoot mixed-bloods. Harvard ( Rep. Smithson. Inst . 1879) estimated the total number in 1879 at 40,000. Of these about 22,000 were in United States territory and 18,000 in Canada. Of 15,000 persons of Canadian-French descent in Michigan few were probably free from Indian blood. Some of the French mixed-bloods wandered as far as the Pacific, establishing settlements of their own kind beyond the Rocky mts. The first wife of the noted ethnologist Schoolcraft was the daughter of an Irish gentleman by a Chippewa mother, another of whose daughters married an Episcopal clergyman, and a third a French-Canadian lumberer. Although some of the English colonies endeavoured to promote the intermarriage of the two races, the only notable case in Virginia is that of Pocahontas and John Rolfe. The Athapascan and other tribes of the extreme N.W. have intermixed but little with the whites, though there are Russian mixed-bloods in Alaska. In British Columbia and the adjoining portions of the United States are to be found some mixed-bloods, the result of intermarriage of French traders and employees with native women.


The peoples of Iroquoian stock have a large admixture of white blood, French and English, both from captives taken during the wars of the 17th and 18th centuries and by the process of adoption, much favoured by them. Such intermixture contains more of the combination of white mother and Indian father than is generally the case. Some English-Iroquois intermixture is still in process in Ontario . The Iroquois of St.. Regis, Caughnawaga, and other agencies can hardly boast an Indian of pure blood. According to the Almanach Iroquois for 1900, the blood of Eunice Williams, captured at Deerfield, Mass., in 1704, and adopted and married within the tribe, flows in the veins of 125 descendants at Caughnawaga; Silas Rice, captured at Marlboro, Mass., in 1703, has 1,350 descendants; Jacob Hill and John Stacey captured near Albany in 1755, have, respectively, 1,100 and 400 descendants. Similar cases are found among the New York Iroquois. Dr. Boas (Pop. Sci. Mo . , XLV, 1894) has made an anthropometric study of the mixed-bloods, covering a large amount of data, especially concerning the Sioux and the eastern Chippewa. The total numbers investigated were 647 men and 408 women. As compared with the Indian, the mixed-blood, so far as investigations have shown, is taller, men exhibiting greater divergence than women.


Source: James WHITE, ed., Handbook of Indians of Canada, Published as an Appendix to the Tenth Report of the Geographic Board of Canada, Ottawa, 1913, 632p., pp. 306-307.



© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College