...A Forum for American Indian Issues...
Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 12:12:20 PM PDT
| The French, unlike the English and the Spanish, saw Indians as trading partners. The French saw that their best opportunity for economic gain was to be found in the fur trade in which their Native American trading partners would retain their autonomy and provide them with furs. The French explorers quickly established trading relations with the Native nations. The best way for the French traders to establish trading relations was for the traders to marry into the Indian societies as traditional trade relied heavily upon kinship relations. Having married an Indian woman, the trader would have a kinship network which could be utilized for trade.
| Ojibwa :: The Michif Language
|One of the consequences of marriage is often children. The offspring of the French-Indian marriages grew up in multilingual households with a French-speaking father and an Indian speaking mother. These children also grew up with two cultures: one European and one Aboriginal. The two cultures blended and created a new group of people known in Canada as Métis.
Out of the Métis culture also came a new language: Michif. Michif is sometimes described as a mixture of Cree and French. While there are some who confuse Michif with pidgin trade languages, such as the Chinook trade language spoken along the Columbia River, it is not a pidgin (a language with a reduced vocabulary and grammar), but a true language. Linguist John McWhorter writes:
"Michif is not a fallback strategy for people who could not really manage their ancestors' languages, nor is it a jolly sort of pig Latin-it is a new language altogether."
Michif utilizes French-origin noun phrases which retain lexical gender (something unusual in the Algonquian Indian languages) and adjective agreement. At the same time, Michif uses Cree-origin verbs with a polysynthetic structure. Polysynthetic structure simply means that instead of using a bunch of words to give additional nuance and meaning to a verb, this is done through a series of prefixes and suffixes. The result is some very long words: verbs can incorporate up to twenty morphemes (sounds which have specific meanings). Thus, Michif grammar tends to be Cree-based.
In general, most of the Michif nouns (an estimated 83-94%) are of French-origin, while most verbs (an estimated 88-99%) are Cree-origin.
The study of language origins, particularly the study of creole languages, has strongly suggested that new languages tend to be formed by children. In the case of Michif, linguists generally feel that the children were fairly fluent in both French and Cree when they developed Michif.
At the present time, Michif is classified as a moribund language, meaning that relatively few children are learning it. In the United States, there are probably fewer than 1,000 Michif speakers, most of whom are associated with the Turtle Mountain Reservation in North Dakota. In Canada, where the Métis are legally and socially recognized as a distinct people, there are many more Michif speakers.
In honor of my mother, THE FLORA SOMBRERO LIND NAVAJO ENDOWMENT FUND has been set up to accept your donations.
This scholarship endowment has been established at the American Indian College Fund to honor Flora Sombrero Lind, as an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation who was born at Inscription House, Arizona of the Many Goats clan circa 1925. This scholarship endowment is funded by Flora's family and friends who want to see Navajo students pursue higher education and carry on their great Navajo heritage.
Please leave a comment here if you donate.
- Please specify what your donation is for in the notes section of the PayPal window. Either propane for Pine Ridge or Rosebud or Hosting fees for this blog. --navajo
If you like to help Aji and Wings please mail a check to them at the address here:
Click the contact tab for address.
...a forum for the discussion of political, social and economic issues affecting the indigenous peoples of the United States, including their lack of political representation, economic deprivation, health care issues, and the on-going struggle for preservation of identity and cultural history
ABOUT US :
navajo (Neeta Lind)
Senior Historian & Writer
Land of Enchantment
Veterans Affairs Correspondent
Bill in MD
No Way Lack of Brain
|NDN News & Links
The Native American Rights Fund (NARF) is a non-profit 501c(3) organization that provides legal representation and technical assistance to Indian tribes, organizations and individuals nationwide - a constituency that often lacks access to the justice system. NARF focuses on applying existing laws and treaties to guarantee that national and state governments live up to their legal obligations.
Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights News
Reporting From Native America
- DAILY KOS
- NATIVE APPROPRIATIONS