Saturday, January 26, 2013

Marie (Rollet) Hebert’s Indian children.


It is well known historically that Mrs. Hebert had many Indian/Metis children in her home for many years. She taught them how to be French. It is also known historically that between  1617 -1649 Champlain encouraged young French bachelors to marry available native/mixed blood girls especially the  girls taught by families in the Colony. Though Champlain died December 25, 1635 Marie Hebert continued with her teaching of native children.  If this is true, then many girls were available to be wives for French and Metis men. (Mrs. Hebert's young Native men also became citizens of the colony of New France and also intermarried with available Indian girls). Marie-Olivier Sylvestra is the only Indian girl that was recorded by her Godfather Olivier Le Tardif de Honnefleur to have been in the Hebert household.
Why are all these boys and girls not recorded in history or in documents of the Catholic Church? First it was unimportant. Everyone knew. Mrs Hebert’s children were not a secret! Everyone got on with life. Second the church was unable to reconstruct all burned records destroyed in fires before 1650. Thirdly Catholic priests did not always approve of Champlain’s ideas, thus did not record every nuance of life in the new land. Only followers of the Catholic church deserved to be recorded.

So who among the children of New France were Mrs. Hebert's Indian girls? We can only guess. But they would be, at the very least, those in our genealogies that do not have an origin. No Father. No Mother. No church records or adolescent histories. Those who also had only one (Christian) first name.
It surprises me that French and Acadian genealogists, historians and others refuse to acknowledge, even a little, Native ancestry for these Grandmothers and Grandfathers who cannot be positively identified.

After the English conquest of Acadia and New France many French families disassociated themselves from their Native heritage for fear of discrimination. Why then continue the deception or resistance? Could it be “pride and prejudice”? Maybe it’s been so long having one viewpoint that they are unable to stop and consider anything else. It is a fact that our unidentified ancestors lived in this new land, now called Canada, not in Europe and that without evidence to the contrary they have always lived here. This must be the first consideration. Otherwise they will forever be unidentified despite arguments that records will be found!

Dominique Côté, the chief of the Antaya First Nation: http://nationantaya.com , (Notre vision tab) recounts her story online about the discovery that her Grandmother was a First Nation’s person. Dominique was one of the lucky ones! Her Grandmother was always listed by the family as European, born in France! But through a DNA test she discovered that she had Native markers. This pointed to a fact that at least one of her Grandmother’s was indeed Native. Why is she lucky? Because DNA testing cannot disclose fully for everyone if a person is a European/Native hybrid. (See my articles in DNA in this blog site). What is so compelling about her story is that her family deliberately concealed the truth for fear of discrimination (and possibly prejudice) for many generations.

Families with unidentified ancestral Grandmothers owe such Grandmothers an aboriginal identity without recrimination from those who disagree!

11 comments:

  1. Love your blog. Thanks for all the info. I am a Malette, Metis, descendant of both Lejeune-Lambert Family. Thanks for any reference and reading material on Acadian Metis (please don't hesitate to recommend me books on it). I don't understand why some metis are not recognizing other metis: this is just beyond me!

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    1. The Alberta Metis Nation advised they could accept me based on my connection to the Savoies, Boucher, Vouture, and Breaus, that have many connections to Lejeune and the Hache-Gallants, I am having trouble counting the connections due to the close family towns marrying 3rd-cousins and all the 1once removed mixing. My understanding is that I have to bring my long form birth cert, along with a family tree dating back to the 1800's they then submit it to Indian Affairs(please rename to aboriginal affairs) to verify it. I think I might have to hire a professional to do the research though.

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    2. The "Powley" test simply states that proof of native ancestry is not required! One simply must place (and prove) an ancestor in the Metis community that the Metis organization is representing. Presto--you are accepted.
      Not so for those with native ancestry whose ancestors lived in European/Metis/Native communities in the east!! There are no so called "tests" that the federal government will accept to deal with these people and their Metis or First Nation organizations!
      Roly

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  2. I will be sure to provide information and references as I find them.

    Ancestral denial, without absolute proof of origin, seems to possess some people. (Then there are some people who can't accept the "half breed" label)

    Roly

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  3. "Marie-Olivier Sylvestre is the only Indian girl that was recorded by her Godfather Olivier Le Tardif de Honnefleur to have been in the Hebert household."

    Can you refer me to the location of this information by chance? Marie-Olivier Sylvestre was found in my lineage recently.

    Additionally, the Côté name found too. That makes me smile. I've already bookmarked the link that you shared here.

    I find it a shame that the US (I live in MI) finds no value in First Peoples culture or recognize the Metis whatsoever considering there are high levels of us here, especially in my own state.

    Looking forward to your reply,
    Aubrey

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    1. Hi Aubrey

      "The only Indian girl" is my personal conclusion after several years of research. Of everything that was written about Marie Rollet many other children were acknowledged but never recorded. Her close relationship with Champlain makes me wonder about her origin--even if we know she migrated with her family from France, I feel that she might have originated from Acadia. Just a feeling!
      Our Montagnais First Nation Metis family: http://www.montagnaismetis.ca/ has members descendant from Marie-Olivier. I think that anyone today with roots in Acadia and New France will have Aboriginal ancestry despite family denial!
      Roly

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    2. I have been tracing my French Canadian ancestry for a number of years and have found links to Louis Hebert, Abraham Martin, Jacques Archambault among others. Of course, my Jobin ancestry also dates to the 16th and 17th centuries. You can imagine my frustration in trying to find a direct Metis ancestor. Certainly there are many Metis 'cousins'. Probably the most well known is Joseph Falcon Jobin who was Louis Riel's emissary to Chief Pound Maker. He would have been a contemporary of my Great Grandfather. I'm sure you're aware that every time I think I've found a direct ancestor that an 'official' genealogy directs me to a French origin rather than a First Nation or Metis.
      My only interest in this is a personal quest for the truth. My father, Armand Jobin, often told us about our 'Canadian Indian' heritage, Although he was born in New York, my father's entire family is buried in Canada. the most recent generations in Montreal. Is there any way I can, with reasonable assurance, identify my Metis ancestors.

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    3. I think you need to be very wary of "official" genealogical results. If they direct you to a French origin without traceable documentation their bias (or prejudice) is evident. You may be surprised that some families have fabricated French origins (with documentation) to distance themselves from Native ancestry. Many people in Quebec and the Maritimes refuse to accept that Canada was founded by Native and European ("half breed") people----especially from 1600 to 1650 and beyond. For numerous reasons very little documentation has survived this period in Canadian history! Always consider an ancestor from that period to be indigenous, especially they are without provable origin!!

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  4. I too have that strong feeling. Especially since not very many people can trace family to Canada/Acadia and Michigan/Wisconsin throughout the 16-1700s!

    I'll check out that link for sure. Thanks for posting it!

    Aubrey

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  5. Yes I thank you too for all you do to infom us. I was not able to get on that site:
    Dominique Côté, the chief of the Antaya First Nation: http://www.votre-nation-antaya.ca/..is it elsewhere the information? thank you ...also... yes, I have a hint, right or wrong, on the direction in my research for Metis that the Pilet, Chevalier and Turcotte will direct me to Chief Henri... if anyone has any info, PLEASE advise me.. thank you!

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  6. The new website is: http://nationantaya.com

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