Art of the Métis


These colourful designs and creations are distinctive of Métis art. The designs are typically compositions of European flowers and are very different from those of other Aboriginal groups.

Métis Beadwork

Through the mission schools that the Métis attended they came in contact with the Grey Nuns from Europe. The Grey Nuns carried with them the floral silk embroidery traditions from France. These techniques and patterns impressed the Métis who then incorporated them into traditional Aboriginal porcupine quill work designs. The results were the foundation of the brilliant, colourful, delicate, symmetrical floral Métis beadwork creations.

Using seed beads, silk and llama threads obtained through the fur trade, the Métis generated the artwork on their clothing that led them to be known as the “Flower Beadwork People”. These creations were so impressive that, as trade goods, these articles were distributed throughout both North America and Europe.

Métis floral beadwork was typically placed against a black or dark blue cloth background, which pronounced its effects. Often the cloth was trimmed with silk ribbons. This specialized artwork can be seen on jackets, bags, leggings, gloves and vests.

In the Red River Valley, the Métis specialized in creating artistic horse gear and western wear garments, including items like coats, pouches, and moccasins. Following stereotypes, Caucasian travelers were interested in purchasing art from “real Indians”, so Métis sold their works to Indians, who then resold them to Whites. This reason occasioned the “misidentification” of Métis art referred to earlier. Another distinctive site of Métis artwork was on the clothing, bags and pouches used by Métis men and women. Often the floral beadwork designs on these objects contained family-specific patterns. When this wonderful artwork was placed on the simple black cloth of construction, the results were very impressive.