At the turn of the 18th century, the western-most Ojibwe bands were increasingly developing strong kinship ties with Métis, Plains Cree, and even Assiniboine bands in the region surrounding the Turtle Mountains. Between 1800-1820, the growth of the Métis population and their success at hunting saw the Ojibwe more and more frequently participating in large-scale buffalo hunts and continually camping with Métis and Cree, resulting in deeply-knit ties among the three peoples, so that nearly all the western Ojibwe had close relatives who were descended from the Red River Métis, or who were Cree in parentage. Extended families and clans became mixed, and many hunting groups were comprised so that the Ojibwe were usually a minority in numbers, but despite this they maintained hereditary leadership roles in these groups. The multi-ethnic nature of these bands help shift the traditional Woodlands culture of the Ojibwe into that of a truly Plains people. They adopted many of the traits of the Cree, Métis, and Assiniboine, such as a more “plains” style of beadwork, dress, ceremonies (e.g. sun dance), and adopted the horse as a central measure of wealth and independence.
By about 1820, there were Ojibwe/mixed-ethnic groups hunting and trading between Lake Winnipeg, Pembina, and the Turtle Mountains. These groups maintained ties to, and would often visit, their original bands at Red Lake, Lake of the Woods, Rainy Lake, and other areas in Minnesota and Ontario, but their cultural orientation was almost entirely Plains in focus.
During this part of the century, the Ojibwe/mixed-ethnic group (such as those at Turtle Mountain) would participate in the regional inter-tribal feuds of the Cree and Métis. This joint military activity helped expand the hunting and trading territory of the Plains Ojibwe well into Montana and Saskatchewan during the 1820s. By the mid-1830s, the Ojibwe-Cree-Métis bands rarely ventured east back to the Woodlands and spent almost all of their efforts hunting buffalo.
They had become the Plains Ojibwe!
Peers, Laura L. (Laura Lynn). 1994. “Ojibwa Of Western Canada, 1780 To 1870.” Manitoba Studies In Native History. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press.
Hickerson, Harold. 1988. “Chippewa And Their Neighbors: A Study In Ethnohistory.” Prospect Heights, Ill.: Waveland Press.
A collaborative effort of members of the Ojibwe and Metis communities