Marcel Giraud's study of the social history of the Métis of western Canada portrays the birth of the Métis as a distinct group, defines the roles they played in the history of the fur trade era in the North West, and examines the decline of the Métis in the late 1800s. Giraud uses his own personal observations of the economic and social position of the Métis in the 1930s to conclude his study. With the arrival of the missionaries in the early 1800s and the ending of hostilities in the colony of Assiniboia, the Métis group embarked on a new phase of their history which continued until the incorporation of the West into the Canadian confederation. In volume II, Giraud examines this period of maturity in which the dominant feature was the establishment of a way of life that clearly separated the Métis from the white. These were also years of differentiation between the Métis of the West, who dwelt outside the nucleus of civilization established on the Red River, and the Métis of Red River, who gradually appeared as a more privileged group. The later half of the nineteenth century saw the disintegration of Métis society largely as a result of the extermination of the bison herds. The Métis had to abandon the nomadic life and adapt to farming. The insurrections of 1869-70 and 1885 led to the decline of the Métis to a marginal group in a predominantly white society. In the final chapter, Giraud looks at the Métis place in that society in the twentieth century.
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