FrancoGene: Genealogy of Quebec's Native People and francophone Metis

This page covers both Quebec's Native People as well as the non-Quebec Metis usually found in regions where the French-speaking were numerous. Supplementary references on this suject are welcome.

Important: There are very few reference books on the genealogy of Amerindians, but we find many books about their history.

Names used to designate Natives, other than the name of their tribe or nation, include : Savage (a pejorative, rarely used today but common only a half-century ago), Indian, North American Indian, Native, and Amerindian (this one seems to be used only in French).  In French, the corresponding terms are: Sauvage, Indien, Indien nord-américain, Autochtone and Amérindien.

Metis means mixed blood, that is initially one parent was White, and one was Native, while later one or both were Metis.  While a Metis can be any place where there are Natives and Whites, Metis Nation is defined as including the Metis living in the early Manitoba lands.

Contrary to popular belief, there were few marriages between Natives and the French in the early days of the colony of New France. We can find these marriages in Jette for the period before 1731, just like all the other marriages of that period.  This kind of marriages seems to be more common in Acadia but because of the missing records, it is not possible to estimate the proportion of Acadian Metis families.

In the Quebec early vital records (1621-1765), we have about 78 couples with a Male Native and a Female European, 45 with a Female Native and a Male European and 540 with 2 Natives.  The whole database has over 44,500 couples, including some living in France.  So, the % of Metis married couples is very small, under 0.3%.  Those are couples according to our church records.  It is practically not possible to count about many couples left no official trace except if we do some DNA analysis for the whole population.

While the Acadian records are less complete, it is quite fascinating to compare them with the Quebec records.  In the Quebec missions like Tadoussac or Oka, the Amerindians were called with Indian names.  In Acadia, they had more frequently European names.  In the old West (pays d'en haut), there are some fur traders who married Native women following the local custom.  The European settlement appeared after that of Quebec and Acadia and the naming pattern is similar to that of Quebec.  This could mean in Acadia, the Natives were mixed to Whites, while in Quebec and the West, the White were mixed to Natives.  This would explain why there is no Native parish in Acadia, unlike in Quebec.

From 1600 to 1800 ( very approximate years ), acts of baptism, marriage, and sepulture may include only the Christian name or both the Christian and the Native names. In the second case, it is possible to find the genealogical link even if the Native name is not hereditary because that name is kept by a person all along his/her life.

Around 1800-1850 ( very approximate years ), acts concerning Natives start using a family name and it then becomes possible to trace the genealogical links.

There was another special phenomenom, namely the adoption by Whites of Natives, but these adoptions left no trace in the parish registers. In fact, adoptions before 1930, be they of Whites or Natives are rarely mentioned in Quebec parish registers.

Example of Native genealogy

This is a sample of an early Quebec native genealogy.

Brief bibliography

Here is a very brief bibliography of what is available on the subject (other than works that are strictly history). There are also works by a Huron genealogist ( a certain Sioui, I think).

A few marriage repertories where the majority are Natives:

Note: I never take note of the book's title when it is a repertory, so don't ask me for the exact title (such as, for example, "Mariages de Pierreville et Odanak").

Elsewhere, the Native missions are not the subject of a single repertory, but are included in the repertories of entire counties that include other parishes.

There are books on the Metis of Manitoba, especially:

We also find : Version française

Last update: 2000