Michif is a term used to describe the speech of a number of MÉTIS communities in western Canada and the northern US.
Michif is a term used to describe the speech of a number of MÉTIS communities in western Canada and the northern US. It is one outgrowth of long contact between Cree and Ojibwa speakers and francophones, and recent research has linked it especially to the Métis buffalo hunts and winter camp settlements on the northern plains. Although formerly dismissed as "bad French" or a disorderly mix of elements, it exhibits a complex structure which establishes it as at least a creole language or a dialect of Cree.
Most typically, French nouns and noun phrases are combined with Cree syntax and verb structures: "I like fish" - Li pwesoon nimiyaymow. While best documented at Turtle Mountain Reservation, North Dakota, it also survives locally in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Many Métis do not speak Michif, having grown up in settings where English or French dominated or having learned to use those languages plus Cree according to need, as did older generations at Lac La Biche, Alberta. Michif persistence, however, is one indicator of the temporal depth and historical distinctiveness of Métis cultural traditions.