Date of Award

May 2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Margaret A Noodin

Second Advisor

Lex Renda

Committee Members

Carolyn J Eichner, Amanda I Seligman, Joe Rodriguez





Mark Langenfeld

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2021Under the Supervision of Professor Margaret Noodin

People from Everywhere: Metis Identity, Kinship and Mobility, 1600s-1800s, is a discussion of how the Metis people of the American southern Great Lakes region in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin made individual and familial choices about ethnic identification from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries that enabled them to survive colonization in their homeland. I argue that Metis people maintained, through kinship networks, a private identity as a collective, distinct group of indigenous people and a private sense of individual pride in their mixed ancestry, even as they performed acts of assimilation to white or Indian communities and moved through British, French, Anglo-American, Metis and Indian communities in the American southern Great Lakes regions. Their own self-identity was synonymous with kinship and a kinship system flexible enough to incorporate Indians and non-Indians of different backgrounds. They traversed communities of their Native relatives, Metis communities such as Chicago, Milwaukee, Mackinac, and Prairie du Chien, and the communities of the white British, French, or Americans who arrived and transformed the area by settlement. American Metis experienced different types of colonization differently while the United States was forming and the American government debated Metis status. Despite their political marginalization and apparent outward assimilation, the American Metis maintained a continuous presence in the U.S.A. and are still present today. This longitudinal micro-history explores the identity choices of American Metis families, including their social and geographic mobility and shifting ties to kinship across time and space and what local, national and international forces guided and shaped their choices. This micro-history is based on various primary sources, including census records, church records, memoirs and correspondence of the Metis themselves, and official fur-trade documents, as well as various methodologies, including American Indian Studies theory, feminist theory, and historical memory theory.