The Montana-based Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians became the 574th Indian tribe to be recognized by the United States government in December, 2019, after over 150 years of trying. The tribe’s origins, and its future, are deeply connected to the Métis people. The Métis are one of the three Indigenous peoples recognized by Canada as “original inhabitants” of their nation, while in the United States Métis contributions to its history have been largely erased. It is past time that was changed.
No discussion of the buffalo and the animal’s significance to Indigenous people on the Northern Plains is complete without also talking about the Métis people. But who are the Métis, how are they related to the Little Shell, and what do they have to do with Montana? This program will answer these questions and discuss how the entire Métis economy and culture was built on their unique relationship with the buffalo from the days when the herds were so large that, “the whole country was one robe.”
La Tray is a Métis storyteller and an enrolled member of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians. He is the author of One-Sentence Journal: Short Poems and Essays from the World at Large. His next book, Becoming Little Shell will be published by Milkweed Editions in 2024.