Group of Métis at Elbow of the Saskatchewan River, 1871Glenbow Archives PB-885-4
Group of Métis at Elbow of the Saskatchewan River, 1871
Glenbow Archives PB-885-4
Métis TravellingBy Paul Kane, 1846With permission of the Royal Ontario Museum © ROM912.1.24
Métis Travelling
By Paul Kane, 1846
With permission of the Royal Ontario Museum © ROM
912.1.24

The Flower Beadwork People

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, a substantial population of mixed Indian-European origin, called Métis, developed around the Great Lakes because of the fur trade. Their mixed ancestry and semi-Indian lifestyle enabled them to be cultural brokers between the indigenous people and the European newcomers. This cultural interaction was reflected in their floral style bead and quillwork.

On the Move

In 1821, the rivalry between the Northwest Company and the Hudson's Bay Company ended in their merger, creating a large surplus of employees. Many of the laid-off Métis moved south to the fur trade along the Missouri River and the central Plains. With cartloads of decorated apparel, they visited the Indian camps, earning them the name "Flower Beadwork People." By the 1850s, their multi-coloured beadwork made its impact on Indian art all over the northern and central plains.
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