The Metis had no match in Hunting or in Military power
In a report on the Red River territory, given to the Canadian parliament in 1859, some flattering notes were given about the Metis hunters who were based out of the Red River settlement and surrounding area.
The report noted that the Metis were "hardy and fearless children of the prairie constitute a race to which much interest may reasonably be attached. They are endowed with remarkable qualities, which they derive in great part from their Indian descent..." It was lamented that, despite having European roots, that many of the Metis were living in a "primitive Indian state" and preferred life on the prairies to a more settled existence that appealed to their European forefathers.
The report noted that by and around the 15th of June each year, the Metis would start for their summer hunt of the buffalo on the prairies. The Metis were formed into two distinct bands: one being those of Red River (Pembina and Winnipeg), and the other of the White Horse Plain on the Assiniboin. The report mentioned that these bands were formerly united, but that a "difference" had sprung up between them and that were maintaining separate hunts on different hunting grounds. The Red River hunters would go west to the Yellowstone River and the Coteau de Missouri in what is now North Dakota and eastern Montana; while the White Horse Plain hunters roamed the branches of the Saskatchewan, before moving down into areas of northern Montana.
As the buffalo were diminishing, it was reported that the Metis hunters would have to go further west towards the Rocky Mountains each year, leading many to become hiverants and stay the winter on the prairies. This failure to return to Red River and White Horse Plains left the Metis to sometimes abandon their farms, and it was noted that they were becoming more and more "indian-like" because of this. The report noting that: "The fascination of a camp in the high prairies, compared with the hitherto almost hopeless monotony of the farms of Red River, can easily be understood by those who have tasted the careless freedom of prairie life".
Perhaps the most interesting part of the report was about the unmatched power that the Metis possessed. It was noted that the Metis hunters had splendid organization when on the prairies and matchless military power They could, if they so choose, to spend as much time as they wanted on the plains because they had perfect knowledge of the country, and the firepower that could render them a very formidable enemy against any other force that might meet them.
Adapted from Papers Relative to the Lake Superior and Red River Settlement (1859)
A collaborative effort of members of the Ojibwe and Metis communities