The power on the Prairies
The Iron Confederacy – also called the Nehiyaw-Pwat – was a political and military alliance of Plains Indians of what is now western Canada and the northern United States. This confederacy included various individual bands that allied together against common enemies.
The alliance was comprised mainly of Plains Cree, Plains Ojibwe, Metis, and Assiniboine people who moved into dominance in the northern plains during the middle 1700s during the height of the North American fur trade when they operated as middlemen controlling the flow of European goods to other native nations, and the flow of furs to the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) and North West Company (NWC) trading posts.
The Iron Confederacy included the following bands: Pembina Band, Little Shell Band, Turtle Mountain Band, St. Francois Xavier Saulteaux/Metis, Nakawiniul (Wilkie’s) Band, Big Bear’s Band, Poundmaker’s Band, Crazy Bear Band, Canoe Band of Nakota, Four Claws (Gordon) Band, Nekaneet Band, Carry the Kettle Band, Rocky Boy’s Band, Montana Band, Muscowequan Band, Beardy’s Band, One Arrow’s Band, Carlton Stragglers Band, Petaquakey Band of Muskeg Lake, Dumont’s Band, Big Bear’s Band, Red Stone Band, Maski Pitonew Band, Piche (Bobtail) Band, Moose Mountain group of White Bear Band, Striped Blanket Band, Prison Drum Band, Crooked Lakes group of Cowessess Band, Ochapowace Band, Pasqua Band, Kahkewistahow Band, and Sakimay Band.
The people of the alliance played a major role in the bison hunting in the region and were powerful due to the pemmican trade. The decline of the fur trade and the collapse of the bison herds sapped the power of the Confederacy after the 1860s. Even as their power weakened, they heeded Gabriel Dumont’s call to participate in the 1885 rebellion and after the battle of Batoche, they scattered to various areas where they were placed on reserves or settled into other communities.
Millroy, John S. (1988). The Plains Cree: Trade, Diplomacy, And War, 1780 to 1870. Manitoba Studies in Native History Series. 4. University of Manitoba Press. ISBN 9780887556234.