The Ojibwe waged a war of destruction against the Cheyenne
A terrifying example of genocidal warfare waged by the Ojibwe can be found in a description of an attack by the Red Lake people against a Cheyenne village (or possibly more than one village) chronicled by explorer/cartographer David Thompson in his journals. Thompson described a personal encounter with an Ojibwe Chief named Sheshepaskut (“Sugar”) which took place at the Cadotte’s House Northwest Company trading post on the Red River near the mouth of the Sheyenne River, in the spring of 1798.
In speaking with Sheshepaskut, Thompson learned of a military campaign by the Ojibwe against the Cheyenne which resulted in the total destruction of a Cheyenne village(s). Sheshepaskut recounted to Thompson that for many years a détente had existed between the Ojibwe and Cheyenne, but this peace was fragile due to mistrust. The Ojibwe, Sheshepaskut explained, had tolerated the Cheyenne because they grew crops (e.g. corn and squash) which the Ojibwe desired and traded with them for. Sheshepaskut recounted how a party of Ojibwe hunters had gone missing while hunting on the Red River near the Sheyenne River. At first the Sioux were suspect, but investigation revealed evidence that implicated the Cheyenne in the disappearance.
Sheshepaskut claimed that a war party of about 150 Ojibwe warriors (led by Sheshepaskut personally) set out from Red Lake and launched an attack on the Cheyenne. He stated that the Ojibwe hid for several days outside the Cheyenne village until the main body of the Cheyenne exited the village to hunt. When it was certain that the Cheyenne hunters were beyond earshot, the Ojibwe attacked the village en masse. Everyone in the village was slaughtered, with the exception of three women who were taken as captives. The village was then set to fire and destroyed.
The exact date of this attack in not known, but it is likely that the attack took place sometime prior to 1790 – perhaps at or near 1780. Archaeological evidence recovered from the Biesterfeldt site near Lisbon, North Dakota, revealed the remnants of burnt timbers – indicative of a large fire. This evidence was interpreted by researchers to be compelling evidence substantiating the historical claims of Sheshepaskut. Archaeological dates for Biesterfeldt (ca. 1780) also lend credence to these claims.
From: Ferris, Kade Michael. 2006. The Chippewa of North Dakota: An Examination of American Indian Cultural Evolution During the 18th and 19th Centuries. North Dakota State University.
A collaborative effort of members of the Ojibwe and Metis communities