A blending of people and a continuity of traditions
Large numbers of Ojibwe and their Metis (half-breed) brethren began trading at posts throughout the Northwest by the late 1790s. They spread out across an enormous territory which included the area around Fort Alexander at the mouth of the Winnipeg River and other posts along the east shore of Lake Winnipeg; up the Red River to slightly past Pembina and west to the Hair Hills and Turtle Mountain; then throughout the Interlake district; along the Assiniboine River past Brandon House, Shell River, Dauphin River, and Red Deer River; along the Qu'Appelle River; north and immediately west of Lake Winnipegosis; and along the North Saskatchewan as far as Edmonton House and Lac la Biche.
The seasonal round that most of the Ojibwe and Metis used in the Red and Assiniboine River areas after 1800 did not change greatly for several decades. Each year there was a robust hunting of buffalo, trapping of beaver, and also harvesting of sturgeon in August in some locations. The autumn trapping period continued as before, sometimes preceded by a brief bison hunt to provision it. Generally, though, the full-blood Ojibwe groups hunted moose, deer, bear, and small furs in the parkland during the autumn, while the Metis elements continued to hunt buffalo well into December or January. This difference caused many Metis to live as Hiverants on the plains, or to winter in places like Pembina, while the Ojibwe displayed more continuity with the past, spending their winters in familiar wooded territory, especially in the Turtle Mountains and the wooded river valleys and hills west of the Interlake region.
It was during this time that the population of Metis began to increase exponentially. These peoples had existed in the west before 1800, but their numbers were relatively small and scattered. This changed quickly with the union of the XY and North West companies in 1804, and the economy-oriented reorganization of the Hudson's Bay Company in 1810–11, when many lower-ranking employees were either dismissed or quit when their pay was lowered. Many of these “free men” chose to remain in the west with their Native or mixed-blood wives and made their living by hunting, trapping, and performing some labor at trading posts. As their numbers increased, Ojibwe/Metis groups developed in areas that the Ojibwe had formerly dominated: the Interlake, Swan River, Turtle Mountain and Pembina areas.
Adapted from Peers, Laura L. (Laura Lynn). 1994. “Ojibwa Of Western Canada, 1780 To 1870.” Manitoba Studies In Native History. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press.
A collaborative effort of members of the Ojibwe and Metis communities