The Red River jig & the fiddle play an important role in Métis culture and history. Jigging was believed to be started in the mid-1800's. The Métis jig is an original dance combing the intricate footwork of the Scottish, Irish, French, and First Nations dances.

The Red River Jig is the most famous dance of the Métis Nation and in Michif it is 'oayache mannin'. The up-tempo of the Métis fiddle makes the Métis jig a much faster dance. It was not uncommon for jiggers to add in extra steps referred to as fancy steps. This fancy footwork would also identify individual communities as well as family styles.

Jigging is a social dance which children would learn very early on from watching and dancing with family and friends. Jigging and step-dancing are celebrated across the Métis Nation Homeland.

The Métis people are well-known for their love of music and dance. Originating in the Red River area, Métis jigging is believed to have started in the mid-1800's.

The Métis jig is a combination of First Nations dancing, Scottish and French-Canadian step-dancing, and reel, jig, and quadrille steps. The "Red River Jig", or as it is known in Michif, "oayache mannin," is the most famous Métis dance. This jig is a special fiddle tune that is played at almost all Métis functions and is danced in two parts. In the first part, a traditional jig step is performed while the fiddle plays a high section, then the fiddle switches to a lower section, and the second fancy footwork part of the dance is performed.

The first recorded reference to the "Red River Jig" was in 1860, when Mr. Macdallas played the tune for the wedding dance of a Métis couple. Father Père Brocher, who conducted the marriage ceremony, named the tune the "Red River Jig." This song, along with the French-Canadian tune, "La Grande Gigue Simple," is a variation of the Scottish tune by Peter Milne entitled "Big John McNeil." The "Red River Jig" is played at almost all Métis functions. Other popular dances include the "Rabbit Dance," the "Broom Dance," and the "Sash Dance."

Jigs are most known for their energetic tempo, and it is not uncommon for dancers to compete with one another to dance the most quick, complicated footwork - or "fancy steps". These fancy steps can sometimes help identify the dancer's family or home community.

Expanding on the social nature of the Métis people, the jig would be learned at a very early age from watching and dancing with family, friends, and community members during the frequent social events and celebrations. Jigging is still celebrated and performed today across the Métis Nation Homeland.


[1] www.louisrielinstitute.ca/music-a-dance.php
[2] https://indigenouspeoplesatlasofcanada.ca/article/music-and-dance

<<< back

Unite Interactive