Cree, Ojibwe, Metis, and Assiniboine working together
As the buffalo herds started to dwindle during the middle 1800s, the tribes and bands of the region began to make changes to accommodate the changing patterns of the herds’ movements and the growing competition to gain access to them.
It was noted that the Cree led an “armed migration”, in cooperation with the Ojibwe, Assiniboine, and Métis, into the Cypress Hills region during the late 1860s. There, the large multi-ethnic camps would form in the summer months to provide protection against the Blackfoot and to ensure that order was maintained so as to not scare off the herds and ruin hunting for everyone.
It was noted that camps could include upwards of 350 lodges of Cree, Assiniboine, Ojibwe, and Métis, but the camps were not exactly a blended effort by the different groups. Even though these people would come together for mutual needs, the camps would remain relatively separate along ethnic lines with tipis and tents being pitched in different camp circles within the main camp itself. The camps would also break up as soon as its goals were accomplished. The main social collective of these camps was the development of a system of mutual Sun Dance ceremonies, which affirmed the social cohesion of the assembled bands.
These joint camps lasted for about a decade before the bison herds could not be sustained. In 1876, the Ojibwa and Cree still in Cypress Hills sent a message to the local commissioner asking for help. Their petition stated: “We are now all gathered together in these Cypress Hills… and we see with our own eyes that the buffalo are gradually dying.”
See 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