Economics drove a blending of people in the west
Due to a general falling-off in the European trade demand for beaver, the Ojibwa people suffered a relative decline during the early decades of the 1800s. The decline of the market, a decline in the beaver population, bad weather and its effects on food resources; and new competition in the quest for diminishing fur-bearers, and more mobile Cree populations caused the Ojibwe to change their strategies. Some bands, like the Red Lake people, retained their basic seasonal rounds in the forests, while others like those at Pembina began hunting and trapping further west and began living with Plains Cree, freeman, and Métis families, sharing the special skills and advantages of those groups.
By joining forces with the Métis, better prices could be obtained for furs. By working with the Plains Cree and Métis, the decline in beaver furs could be mitigated by shifting focus towards buffalo hunting and the pemmican trade. This way, the Ojibwe ensured their standard of living and even increased it.
By the early to middle 1800s, the number of mixed-group camps rose and the intermarriage between the Ojibwe, Cree, and Metis also increased. As well, the Ojibwe were frequently wintering with Cree and Assiniboine in the Pembina Hills and at Turtle Mountain, and some groups even moved further west into Saskatchewan. Trader Alexander Henry described a camp at Setting River as containing “20 leather tents of Crees, a few Saulteurs [Ojibwe], and two freemen [Métis],” while another camp nearby was composed of “10 Crees, and a few Saulteurs and freemen, who had a number of horses.”
From Peers, Laura L. (Laura Lynn). 1994. “Ojibwa Of Western Canada, 1780 To 1870.” Manitoba Studies In Native History. St. Paul: MN Historical Society Press.
A collaborative effort of members of the Ojibwe and Metis communities