I have a lot of the books on the history of the Metis people. In the French language, the word "Metis" is pronounced (may- tee) which in essence means mixed blood.
Some members on both sides of the family are mentioned in some of these books. Some of the books can still be bought in book stores and others have been out of print for years.
If anyone is in the least bit interested in this history, one of the best books written about the Metis people can be bought at Barnes and Noble Books, or at Amazon Books for cost of about sixteen dollars, of course other book stores would no doubt have it or could get it for you. The name of the book is "Strange Empire"by Joseph Kinsey Howard.
As I have all day to hunt and peck this out, I will quote some of what was written in chapter seven in the book ,"These Are The Prairies" by Mr. Zachhary Macauly Hamilton and his wife Marie Albina Hamilton.
This is only a small portion of the seventh chapter. I typed this at one time and sent it, via e-mail to a professor of history at M I T in Boston, Mass., she wrote me back and said she was quite moved by it and she promised to research some of the history of the Metis at Harvard 's library and could I send her the name of books she could use as reference material.
( This lady, Mrs. Isabelle (Fayant-Fagnant) Mcgillis was my dads grandmother. (mdb)
" I had not seen Mrs. Mcgillis for many years, but in 1928, in company with Frank Trumbull, K. C., and my husband, I drove from Willow Bunch to Saint Victor for the express purpose of paying her a visit. We came to the well remembered place---the typical Metis cabin built of ax--squared logs, backed by a picturesque poplar grove in the mist of which, a clear spring of water bubbled. Her son "Catchou", an old man himself, one of the most sterling of the native people and a long trusted henchmen of my brother Pascal, met us outside. To me he was the representative of a happy time and our greeting was warm and friendly. I asked for his mother. "She is inside," he said "Will you go in and see if she knows you?"
I found her sitting on her bed, garbed in a black stuff dress with a small shawl neatly crossed over her breast. She then must have been at least a hundred years, and was thin and frail, but despite her great age was quite active, and her mind remarkably clear.
I addressed her in French, and asked her if she recognized me. A quarter of a century had passed since our last meeting. She looked at me steadily for a moment and then replied: "Mais ouis, Madame, vous etes 'Albina'," the name by which, when as a child, I was known to the Metis folk.
When my husband entered she recognized him also, although she had seen him on only one or two occasions many years previously. On being presented to Mr. Turnbull, she greeted him with a courtesy and self-possession that might well have been the envy of a more pretentious hostess.
Mrs. Mc Gillis had no English, but spoke perfect French acquired long ago from les Souers Grises ( the gray nuns, ) of Saint Boniface.
We had a long and interesting talk, and as her mind went back across the years, she became graphic and animated.
"I have known these Western Plains since I was a young girl," she said. " I am glad that
Monsieur is Scottish. My husband was Scottish too. He was of the North West Company and his people had authority. When I was only a child I came with my father from the Red River to the buffalo hunt. The women drove the carts and the men rode horseback and hunted along the trail. West of the Moose Jaw Creek, always we found the buffalo.
Sometimes in the morning when I went out to bring in the horses, the little buffalo calves followed, mistaking them for their mothers. The Metis went in a large company and they had guards and scouts like soldiers, for sometimes the Indians were bad. At first it was the Sioux, but Cuthbert Grant, the 'Warden of the Plains', who was a relation of my husband, gathered the bravest of the hunters together and made a war, driving them away from our hunting grounds. Afterwards it was the Blackfeet who would attack and kill small parties; but when we went in large companies they did not bother us, we followed the buffalo herds far to the West, until we could see the great mountains rising like clouds in the sky. Once we had to camp for more then three days at the Milk River to let the buffalo go by. There was so many of them that they could not be counted, and they seemed to think of nothing except where they were going. They were followed by the big gray wolves that killed the little calves or cows mired near the river crossing. They kept going north like a big black river."
Then as she re-lived those old scenes, she fell silent for a moment in retrospection. Suddenly, she said: "Where were they all going? Perhaps to some place by the ocean where the grass is always green, and the white man cannot come with his breach- loading rifle. I think maybe, some of the Metis did a great wrong and God took the buffalo away for punishment."( Isn't it an irony that Isabelles son Catchou , when at the age of eighteen was given the credit (This according to, two newspaper articles I have in my possession) as being the one to kill the last free buffalo on the western plains of Canada? This would have been in the year 1881. melvin beaudry) When we said good-bye to this fine old lady, she cried a little and kissed me. I call her a lady, for she had the courtesy that might have graced the highest in the land, It was the last time I saw her. She died in the winter of 1933, and it seemed to me as if she must have been escorted down the last long trail by a ghostly cavalcade of those priests, potentates, hunters and warriors who lived the vivid history of the Western plains in the days that have faded into the mists of the long gone years.
The Indians who by "Treaties" were recognized by the Crown as having a vested right in their native land always regarded the Metis as joint-inheritors with them, and urged the government to deal with them as such.
Much was promised, but the pledges have never been adequately fulfilled. It is true they were eventually given "scrip" which entitled them to two hundred and forty acres of land each.
This was granted when land had little value, and few realized as much as much as a hundred dollars for their rights. Many of them parted with their "srips" for a horse, or a gun or even a few bottles of whiskey. The value they received on account of their birthright has been so trivial that if it were not so tragic, it would be ridiculous. Apart altogether from their undoubted rights, they have rendered inestimable service to Canada. Without their aid, the peaceful settlement of the western plains would have been impossible. The prairie region was inhabited by warlike and independent Indian tribes and, had it not been for the meditation of the Metis, there is little doubt that western settlement in Canada would have been retarded by wars and massacres which characterized the advance of of settlement in almost every other frontier region of North America.
It is no credit to the various administrations of the last seventy years that those poor people should have been felt to become for the most part, homeless wanderers in the land that was theirs by birth and inheritance.
Canada's treatment of her Metis population is not a creditable page in the history of the Dominion.
(Would it be an unfair assessment on my part to say that only until the recent past, say since the 1960s depending where you lived of course , I would hardly call it a stroll in the park, right here in the good old, U. S. of A.-----Melvin D. Beaudry)
("For that matter what would a person do with so few acres in such a vast area? with no roads in or out, no tools, no seeds if you had equipment, and who in the hell was going to give them credit in which to purchase anything"?--- Melvin D. Beaudry)
( "They also thought as the Indian blood in them dictated, it was foolish to think that any one could "own" the earth, sky , rivers , they were there for the use of every one. It was just as foolish for them to believe that anyone could own another person or for that matter an animal.
When I was real young person, I had killed animals for food. I took no pleasure in it however and since it is no longer necessary for me to do so, I have not killed an animal in at least forty five or fifty years.
I don't claim to be a vegetarian, but for the most part, I will say a silent prayer for the animal that has lain his life down that I might sustain mine.
How many people pray for old Tom Turkey at Thanksgiving Day Dinners?, I wonder.")
Here is another article that is worthy of note.
It concerns another grand-daughter of Isabelles. I knew this fine lady, she told me as we visited one time, that she had been in the motorcade that had crossed the Golden Gate Bridge in the opening ceremonies, upon it's completion.
Not too many years ago we saw a show on TV, it was on the history of the Golden Gate, from inception to completion. As I had worked for awhile on the Golden Gate Bridge when they replaced the deck in the years 1984-85. Winona obtained this same video tape from the "History Channel" for me, in it it shows the opening of the bridge and the motorcades crossing, after the opening ceremony.
Sure enough it shows a lady waving from the window of the same kind of car Louise owned ,which was a 1935-36 Dodge.
I also have a picture of Louise, in her nurses uniform she holds a diploma in her hand.
My father and her were first cousins and attended St, Ignatius Mission School at the same time.
My father was the "Go Fer" for the Catholic Brother that painted the beautiful "Stations Of The Cross" and other paintings in the church at the old Mission School, the church was open all the time until some type of "protester" attempted to destroy these beautiful paintings, now it is open only under supervision.
"Louise C. La Fournaise was reported to have been the first female nurse to serve on the front lines in evacuation hospital No. 1 during World War I., Joe Holland of Glasgow reported that he served with her as a medic in the same hospital in 1918.
A daughter of of Joseph "Napoleon" and Marie Therese McGillis La Fournaise, she was born in Canada and came to Glasgow in 1898 with her parents. Later, she and a sister attended school at St. Ignatius Mission in St. Ignatius . In 1914 , she graduated from St, Ignatius training School for Nurses in Colfax, Washington. She returned to Opheim and filed on a homestead in 1915. On Nov. 13, 1917, she was issued a Montana State Nurses' Certificate to work at the Sacred Heart Hospital in Havre. Prior to that , she had worked at Columbus Hospital in Great Falls and the Fort Benton Sanitarium in Fort Benton
She enlisted with the U. S. Army Nurses Corps and accompanied the expeditionary forces. Her orders were issued March 27, 1918. She was assigned to various evacuation on the front lines in France. She was authorized to wear two G. W. chevrons for service with the A. E. F., the victory medal service ribbon and one Bronze Star for her part in the St. Mihiel Offence at evacuation hospital 16.
In July, 1919 she was ordered back to the United States. After the war she continued her nursing career in California working in the veterans' hospital in Palo Alto. On Oct. 27, 1926, she married Raymond Schneider. In 1933, she got spinal meningitis after working in the spinal meningitis ward. She was the first women to survive this disease, according to medical journals. Her husband died in 1936, and she died March 17, 1984 at the age of 94. She was buried with full military honors in the veterans cemetery at the Persidio in San Francisco. Her nurses uniform on display at Pioneer Museum was donated to the museum by a niece. Louise La Fournaise Van Buskirk of Mesa Arizona".
( I gave a nephew of Louises, Gordon La Fournaise, a copy of the picture of Mrs. Schneider, he has also sent that to museum in Glasgow he has told me.
When this lady would come to spend the summers with her father, in Glasgow, before his death. I would help her with small chores, she told me a few of the stories from her time in France, she told me at times, both sides, would call a truce for a period, during this interlude they would go out on the battle field between the trench lines to gather the dead and wounded. The Germans on the one side and the allies on the other, what a horrible, terrible thing for a young women to witness.)
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