According to Norman Fleury, linguist and Michif language specialist, speaker and traditional storyteller, “Michif” was the “nationality” (ethnicity) and the languages now known as Michif were Métis versions of “Cree” and “French,” despite their differences with standard Cree or French-Canadian French. The old people referred to the language we now call Michif as the “Cree spoken by the Michif.” Michif-French was referred to as the “French spoken by the Michif.”
Spoken mainly in southern and central Saskatchewan and Manitoba and ranging into North Dakota (the area in and around the Turtle Mountain Reservation) and some parts of Montana, Michif is considered to be the true mixed Métis language. It mixes Pains Cree verbs and verb phrases and French nouns and noun phrases along with some Saulteaux and English, depending on the locate and family. Michif-French, spoken in various places in all three Prairie Provinces, is a dialect of Canadian French that sometimes employs an Algonquin syntax. Northern Michif, spoken in northwest Saskatchewan, is a dialect of Plains Cree with a tony number of French loan words.
Michif is the endangered orally-based language of Métis citizens. Perhaps only 5-10% of the Métis Nation population are able to speak the language, with the majority being elders.
(Credit: Gabriel Dumont Institute)