A bountiful hunting site in northern Montana
The Sweet Grass Hills, were an important hunting location for the Metis of southern Saskatchewan and northern Montana. These hills consist of three buttes—Gold Butte, Mount Royale, and West Butte—in Liberty and Toole counties, Montana. Each of the Sweet Grass Hills consists of a cluster of foot-hills lying around a central butte, reaching up to 7,000 feet above sea-level.
These buttes were the center of the feeding-ground of the great northern herd of buffalo hunted by the Metis and other Indian tribes of the region. This herd ranged from the Missouri River north to the Saskatchewan, but always made its appearance in the area between the buttes around the end of August.
According to all accounts, the number of buffalo who would be found in the region was beyond all estimation. During the boundary commission survey, one surveyor said, “Looking at the front of the herd from an elevation of 1,800 feet above the plain, I was unable to see the end [of the herd] in either direction”.
Because it was such a rich hunting area the tribes of the region would often fight over the spoils of hunting, especially during the height of hunting season. It was not uncommon for the Blackfeet, Assiniboine, and Gros Ventres to accidentally encounter each other at this location. Even an occasional war-party of Sioux, coming from the direction of the Bear Paw Mountains, might be found here. However, it was the Metis who most often called this location their own.
Adapted from: DEPARTMENT OF STATE. REPORTS UPON THE SURVEY OF THE BOUNDARY BETWEEN THE TERRITORY OF THE UNITED STATES AND THE POSSESSIONS OF GREAT BRITAIN (1877)
A collaborative effort of members of the Ojibwe and Metis communities