The term Métis is not new, it's been around for hundreds of years, but its meaning can be a bit murky still.
When the first European men, mostly French involved in the fur trade, came to what is now Canada and the northern fringe of the United States, some settled with the native tribes. They blended in with the tribes, mainly Ojibwe and Cree, and took wives. The offspring of these couples were considered half-breeds, half-castes, or in French, Métis. (Pronounced May-tees') Over time, these bi-cultural people developed a culture of their own.
Some claim that Métis with a capital M refers only to those people who originated in the Red River Valley area who more fully developed their own unique culture and language, a blend of French and Native words called Michif. They hold that métis with a lower-case m refers to any persons of mixed Native and European ancestry. Canada has recognized Métis as a First Nation for more than 100 years.
The United States has never formally acknowledged them, even though the Métis have been here since the first European men landed on our shores. Well, nine months after, anyway.
In my work-in-progress, set around the Straits of Mackinac, the heroine is Métis. Researching this little-known - at least in the United States - culture has been interesting. As with any bi-cultural group, they faced prejudice and persecution from those who deemed themselves superior ... on both sides of the Métis family tree.