The real reason for coming west was not European pressure
There is a common misconception that the Ojibwe were enticed, or contracted, by the European fur traders to come west of the Great Lakes and Mississippi regions to be part of the fur trade, rather than having expanded under other influences. This belief has led many historians to falsely provide the impression that the Ojibwe operated at the behest of the Europeans. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
While the Ojibwe did come west about the same time as the advent of intense fur-trading, this move was part of a larger move westward that happily coincided with the expansion of trading; the Ojibwe were simply there to (naturally) take advantage of the trend. This newfound economic avenue allowed for an even greater expansion (by warfare and by sheer population) westward as the Ojibwe were also caught up in the genesis of the Metis Nation through marriage to Europeans.
That the early western Ojibwe concentrated on, and were extremely successful in, trapping large numbers of beaver, many scholars hypothesized that they must have been brought in by the fur companies. Also, because of the close ties to the Canadian traders and the newly formed kinship ties to the Canadian-friendly Metis, the rumor that the Ojibwe were bought and paid for by the Canadians was spread widely by the Hudson Bay Company.
The most interesting reason for the movement of the Ojibwe into the Red River Valley region is one that is based on oral tradition. Chief Peguis, in explaining why the Ojibwe had come to the region stated to the European governors of Manitoba that:
“About the year 1780, smallpox overtook [the Cree and Assiniboine], and decimated them fearfully. Thereafter…the Saulteaux [Ojibwe] left the forests…and entered on the plains of Red River…The Saulteaux found the Assiniboines and the Crees encamped at the Pembina Mountain,…and after smoking and feasting for two or three days, the children of the forest were formally invited to dwell on the plains — to eat out of the same dish, to warm themselves at the same fire, and to make common cause with them against their enemies the Sioux…” The Assiniboine told the Ojibwe, “Your presence will remove the cloud of sorrow that is in our minds and strengthen us against our enemies.”
Learn more at 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