In 1840, US Indian Agent Amos J. Bruce, noted in his reports concerns over potential conflict between the Metis half-breeds and Pembina Ojibwe and the Yankton Sioux in the area around Devils Lake. He wrote:
It becomes my duty to lay before you, sir, the statement of a movement of the British Red river half-breeds, which would seem to call for the immediate interposition of the United States Government These people have been in the habit of making annual incursions into our territories for the purpose of hunting the buffalo, of which they destroy great numbers. Some evil-disposed person having reported that the Yancton Sioux intended to oppose by force the further hunting of these foreigners upon their lands, the half-breeds, joined by a number of Indians belonging to tribes within the British boundaries, and provided with three small cannons, left the Red River colony with the intention of attacking the Sioux if found upon the hunting-grounds.
Bruce wrote later, in 1844, that the Metis were emboldened to make regular incursions deep into Dakota Sioux country. There, they would slaughter vast numbers of buffalo. This, of course, led to a fight between the Metis and the Yanktons. Bruce remarked:
I have advice of a fight which took place a few days since, between these people, at least 150 miles within our boundary. It appears that a half-breed Chippewa of Red river was killed by a party of Yanktons, of the Missouri, which was retaliated by a large party of half-breeds upon another band of Sioux, [belonging to Lake Traverse] who had no cognizance of the affair, and who were attacked by the half breeds without any warning, and eight Sioux were killed and two taken prisoners.
Parroting Bruce’s concerns, Iowa territorial Governor John Chambers also reported to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs in 1844. Hoping for a military presence to deter the Metis, he wrote:
These people [the Metis] are represented as being numerous, warlike, and well-armed. Their intercourse with the wild bands of the Sioux, who hunt in the plains between their residence and the Missouri river, and with whom we have no treaties, has generally been of a friendly character, and such as would have made them auxiliaries of a formidable enemy in the event of a rupture of our friendly relations with Great Britain. Recently, it seems, the friendly intercourse between them has changed its character; and the suggestion made by Colonel Bruce, of showing a military force in that region of country about the time of the annual incursions of these half breeds, would have a good effect.
Ethnological Report for Docket 113, et al., before the Indian Claims Commission.
A collaborative effort of members of the Ojibwe and Metis communities