Indian Migrations in Manitoba and the West

by Walter Maxwell Hlady
Winnipeg, Manitoba

MHS Transactions, Series 3, 1960-1961 Season

This article was published originally in MHS Transactions by the Manitoba Historical Society on the above date. We make this online version available as a free, public service. As an historical document, the article may contain language and views that are no longer in common use and may be culturally sensitive in nature.

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This paper is concerned primarily with the various Indian tribes who live, or have lived, in Manitoba and the West. It is not possible within space limitations to carry out as extensive a survey as one would like. However, it is hoped that the following will present a general picture of early population movements.

From the time Indian migrations began out of Asia some 40,000 years ago, [1] most of our Indian population has been mobile. The movement of an agricultural village a short distance to fresh land; the hunting groups following buffalo or caribou herds; the hunter-fishermen moving to areas of seasonal abundance; and the need of gathering peoples to be in harvest areas. This restlessness, which was closely linked to the stage in development of Indian technology, is mirrored in the movements of the various tribes. This restlessness is clearly evident in the prairie provinces where hunting, fishing and gathering provided the only means of livelihood.

The tribes which will be considered in detail in this paper are the Cree, Assiniboine, Ojibwa, Chipewyan, Dakota (Sioux), Blackfoot, Sarcees, Hidatsa and Gros Ventres. Other tribes such as Kutenais, Beaver, Shoshoni, Monsoni, Mandan, Iroquois and others will be mentioned but are not considered except briefly.

The Cree

The Cree Nation occupied an important role in the tribal migrations in Western Canada. Primarily a woodland peoples, they were forced to expand steadily because of the constant buildup of their numbers, and because of the nature of Cree land utilization, which required an extremely large area of forest and water to produce the needs of a family group. This they did in the prehistoric period in the woodlands from Labrador to Manitoba. That this expansion covered a considerable period of time is attested to by the dialetical differences which exist among the many bands who form the Cree.

Cree penetration into Manitoba was reasonably early in the area between the present international boundary and the Nelson River in the woodlands. If we consider pottery remains, the time may be as long as nine hundred to fourteen hundred years. The Laurel Culture and particularly the Nutimik Phase which has been dated from approximately 500 to 1,000 A.D. by MacNeish, [2] could represent early Cree culture. If we consider that this would take us back to the first known pottery influences reaching Manitoba, it is possible that the Cree were in part of Manitoba well before the idea of pottery reached this area.

When we consider the breakaway of the Assiniboine from the Yanktonnai Dakota, and the alignment of the Assiniboine and the Cree, we have another bit of evidence for long Cree occupancy in Manitoba. While some researchers consider the split of the Assiniboine from the Yanktonnai as occurring in the 17th century, [3] the archaeological evidence of longer Cree-Assiniboine alignment culturally would suggest that such a date is late. Jenness places this earlier when he says that the Assiniboine lived closest to the Iroquois in the seventeenth century and had probably separated off from the Dakota Sioux only a few generations before. [4] It is obvious, too, from the close relationship between the Assiniboine and Cree through the historic period that the relationship had been a cordial one.

The Assiniboine are considered by most archaeologists to have been responsible for the Black Duck or Manitoba Culture. The Assiniboine and the Cree were known to have been closely allied. Material from the Laurel Culture is found to varying degrees in various sites with that of the Black Duck (Manitoba) Culture. This was clearly evident at the Lockport Site where this situation had occurred over a number of centuries. [5] It is, therefore, likely that the Laurel Culture represents early Cree Culture.

Archaeologically, we have begun only in the past fifteen years to realize that the later Cree made pottery and that the identification of early sites is possible through this means. Much of this had previously been recognized as part of the Siouan pottery tradition-the Headwaters Lake Aspect. MacNeish has separated this even further, recognizing a Selkirk Focus which is Cree. He has dated this cultural period between 1350 to 1750 A.D. [6]

Historically, the references are more informative. The setting up of fur trade posts on Hudson Bay begins to provide many check points on the location and movements of tribes. The Cree were first contacted by a party from the fort at the mouth of the Nelson and Hayes Rivers in 1682. The party must have travelled about one hundred miles inland before establishing contact. It was obvious that the Cree had preferred being inland, spending some time on the coast. [7] Kelsey, in 1690 and 1691, shows that the area between Hudson Bay and Deeringe's Point (somewhere in The Pas, Cedar Lake, Moose Lake triangle) was Cree and that the allied Assiniboine were some fifty or so miles to the southwest. [8]

With the acquisition of firearms, the Cree became much more expansive than the gradual westward movement of earlier centuries. There are some reports of clashes with neighbouring tribes, but the main evidence describes the area occupied by the Cree as later explorers and traders contacted them in their villages and camps. In the area of Hudson Bay, the traders were able to chronicle such occurrences. In the winter or spring of 1713, Cree had destroyed a band of Chipewyans carrying off several of the women as slaves. [9] It is obvious, from the familiarity of one of the Chipewyan slave women, used as a guide, with the area traversed by a truce-making party in 1715, that this attack was either in the Churchill area or to the west or northwest. This truce was forced largely upon the Cree by the Hudson's Bay Company. The Cree had been intercepting and robbing Chipewyan parties as they tried to reach York Fort to trade. The Cree, attempting to contact the Chipewyan, had difficulty finding them. This would be likely in view of the sparse, scattered population. Kelsey, in 1688, had travelled a considerable distance in the area northwest of Churchill without establishing contact. The peace party split up in the barrens west of Churchill but most of the group returned to York Fort. One of the two parties who continued the search massacred a small group of Chipewyans, allegedly in self-defence. The other party came upon the scene of the massacre and on the insistence of the Chipewyan slave women established contact with the main group and peace was made. The Hudson's Bay Company was not too certain that the peace would last, since a promise was made to build a post at the mouth of the Churchill River. [10]

That this area was in a state of flux can be further described since some of the Chipewyans who had returned to York Fort with the peace party were attacked and apparently killed by Eskimos at Churchill the following year (1715). [11] A post was established at Churchill in 1717. The post provided the Chipewyans with ample firearms, and the Eskimo were in turn pushed farther to the north. [12]

The situation in this area was a fluid one. The Chipewyans had been moved north from the Nelson River-Churchill River portion of the coast. The Churchill River was, in general, the southern edge of the Chipewyan area before smallpox wiped out an estimated nine-tenths of this group in 1781. [13] At this time, the Cree seem to have moved northward across the Churchill River in inland parts of present Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

In the south, the Cree were first contacted in force July 14, 1732 near Fort St. Pierre, (present Fort Frances), when about two hundred assembled to meet La Verendrye. [14] Two hundred Cree warriors centred at the Lake of the Woods made friendly overtures in late summer of the same year. Added to this was the information that sixty other warriors were at Lake Winnipeg. [15] That there were a large number in the area is noted in June, 1733, when Cree warriors and three hundred Monsonis (part of the Ojibwa) [16] gathered at the Lake of the Woods in war paint, preparatory to a war party upon enemy Dakota and Ojibwa to the south and southeast. [17] It is interesting to note that groups of the Ojibwa were enemies at this time. The Assiniboine and Cree were to use the Ojibwa later (1790) as buffer-allies against the pressures and war parties of the Dakota. [18] These may have been the Monsoni, their old allies. On December 30, 1733, a meeting was held at Fort St. Charles by La Verendrye with seventy Assiniboine and Cree from Lake Winnipeg. [19] This is one of the first of innumerable references which show the Cree and Assiniboine living or travelling together.

La Verendrye (Sept. 24, 1738) noted ten Cree "cabins" at the Forks where he was to locate Fort Rouge. [20] The area occupied by the Crees is further delineated by La Verendrye when it is written: "... I established a new fort at the request of the Mountain Crees last fall near the Lake of the Prairies (Lake Manitoba) and named it Fort Dauphin." [21] By 1748, the forks of the Saskatchewan River were the rendezvous of the Cree from the prairies, the woods, and the foothills of the Rockies, and it was here that it was decided whether the assembled Cree dealt with the English or the French. [22]

It was either before the French moved into the Red River-Lake Winnipeg area or after the French trade diminished, after the middle of the eighteenth century, that a tragic event commonplace in the lives of Indians of that day occurred. Alexander Henry, the younger, in his journal, notes in 1800 an event "which happened many years ago". While the chiefs and the most active men and women went to York Factory to trade, the Dakota fell on the camp at Netley Creek-Riviere aux Morts-composed mainly of old people and children, killing a great number. By the time, the remainder of the Cree returned from Hudson Bay, it was too late to do anything. [23]

Hendry, (on his journey to divert as much of the western trade to Hudson Bay as possible) on July 30, 1754, in company with a party of Cree, reached the area which MacGregor determines as forty miles south and east of Tisdale, Saskatchewan. [24]

With the forward echelons of the Cree moving westward, consolidating gains, the area to the east (and especially the southeast) was shrinking. A meeting with Pond is referred to by Alexander Henry on August 18, 1775 at a Cree village at the mouth of the Winnipeg River (Fort Alexander). [25] The elder Henry had, in the same year, found the Ojibwa as far west as the Big Forks of the Rainy River. [26] There is some doubt that the Cree still controlled the Lake of the Woods area. This is suggested by the fact that the Ojibwa were trading into Pembina by 1790. [27]

Pond's experience at The Pas with Chief Chatique, without doubt a Cree, (Pelican Lake in Saskatchewan also is called by Alexander Mackenzie "Lake du Chitique" [28] shows some of the power and the attitude of these bands: "... (he) succeeded in forcing them to give presents to the extent of three casks of gunpowder, four bags of shot and ball, two bales of tobacco, three kegs of rum, and three guns together with knives, flints and some smaller articles." Moreover, he followed them up and levied another keg of rum. [29] It is obvious that the toll charges at this point were considerable.

In the far northwest, Pond was setting up his post on the Elk River, south of Lake Athabaska in present-day Alberta, and delineates Cree expansion at a high point in that area. Here he traded with both Cree (Knisteneaux) and Chipewyan tribes who formerly travelled to Fort Prince of Wales (Churchill). [30] A truce between the two groups occurred in this area (formerly held by the Beaver and Slaves) in 1760. [31]

There is a factor which reduces the effectiveness of the Cree at this time-smallpox. For the Cree in the woodlands an epidemic brought devastation in 1784. [32] Jenness notes also that the Plains Cree were decimated in the eighteenth century. [33] Whether both epidemics occurred at roughly the same time was not determined but is likely since the disease was sweeping the Indian tribes widely at this time. The pressure of the Cree in northwestern Saskatchewan was almost eliminated. The Chipewyan, themselves decimated by smallpox in 1781, moved south. Whereas Pond notes only Cree on his route through Ile a la Crosse and Portage la Loche on his way to establish a post on the Elk River in 1778, Alexander Mackenzie, in denoting the southern boundary of the Chipewyan in the period 1789-1793, lists these places as Chipewyan. [34] Even a people decimated a few years before were able to displace the Cree at this time.

The period from 1775 to 1820 is one of intensive contact with the Indian tribes, particularly through the fur trade, but also through colonization and plain curiosity. The battle between the fur companies grew in intensity leading to the merger in 1821.

Duncan M'Gillivray does much to give us a fairly clear picture. He records the Cree exterminating a Gros Ventres band of sixteen lodges (probably about 125 persons) near South Branch Fort (near present Duck Lake, Sask.) in the summer of 1793. [35] This probably marks the beginning of the southwestward retreat of the Gros Ventres. In addition, M'Gillivray locates several bands of Cree. On September 5, 1794, he reports several tents of Cree and Ojibwa at Nepawi [36] (present Nipawin, Sask.) and at Fort George on the North Saskatchewan River [37] he reports a party of Cree arriving for safety, September 28, 1794; [38] Cree intercepting a party of Blackfoot nearby, October 7, 1794; [39] the arrival of the two greatest Cree chiefs, Gauche and Bleneau Assis on October 17; [40] more Crees arriving November 4, [41] at the same time reports of a Cree war party forming to go against the Slave Indians; [42] more Crees arriving November 10; [43] and Cree arriving from the Beaver Hills to the north, April 17, 1795. [44] On April 24, 1795, he reports a rather enlightening arrival of a large party consisting of Sarcees, Cree, Piegans and Bloods who have been away all winter. The Cree are described as pitiful since they have been smoking and feasting with Piegans all winter. [45] Does this have any relation to the fact that the Cree called the Blackfoot Confederacy "slaves"? It is possible. The Cree had been driving the Blackfoot westward and southwestward when they had guns, while the Blackfoot were armed with bows and arrows until trading posts came within their reach. Roe states the term "slave" for the Blackfoot was never used by any other tribe. [46]

Mackenzie, writing in 1801 about voyages in 1789 and 1793, gives a description of the area occupied by the Cree. He draws a line along the divide between the Hudson Bay and Lake Superior watersheds to the middle part of the Winnipeg River, thence to Lake Winnipeg and over to the Saskatchewan River. From here he draws the line along the river to Fort George on the North Saskatchewan. This was apparently the westward limit according to Mackenzie since he now continues north to the source of the Beaver River and continues to the Elk River and Lake Athabaska. He then swings back to Ile a la Crosse and down the Churchill River to Churchill. [47] He also noted that others were on the Red and South Saskatchewan Rivers. [48] He notes Cree at Lac La Ronge; [49] at Fort Chipewyan; [50] Ile a la Crosse; [51] Nipawin and Duck Lake (in assocation with Assiniboine) [52] and Lake Winnipeg [53] (obviously the northern end of the lake from his general description). [54]

Alexander Henry is responsible also for some of our information for this period. Concerning the Red River at present Lockport, he states (August 18, 1800) that the Cree and Assiniboine formerly assembled here in large camps to await the arrival of the traders. [55] This suggests that by 1800, they no longer did so. The next day he is at the Forks of the Red and Assiniboine and tells of the arrival of the Snakes who, he says, formerly lived about the Lake of the Woods, but who now live about thirty leagues west of the Forks. He says they are of the same nation as the Cree but of a different dialect resembling the Saulteaux (Ojibwa). He says they were once numerous but now muster no more than fifty men. [56] This is an intriguing passage, in that, one wonders whether this group had any connection with the mosaics in the Whiteshell area where one of the predominant features is the outlines of snakes. [57]

Vickers, in his comprehensive paper delivered to this Society in the 1945-46 season dealing with aboriginal backgrounds in southern Manitoba, cites the younger Henry for 1801 showing Cree and Assiniboine north of the Forks of the Red and to show Cree and Assiniboine in the Rock and Pelican Lake area in south-central Manitoba. [58]

Harmon, particularly from 1800 to 1808, provides considerable geographic data on the Cree. He notes Ojibwa and Cree living on Lake Winnipeg near the Narrows. [59] His notes from Fort Alexandria (on the upper Assiniboine River south of present Sturgis, Saskatchewan) are full of references to Cree almost always in company of the Assiniboine. [60] In his travels in these years he noted Ojibwa, Plains Cree and Swampy Cree at Bird Mountain (Duck Mountain?); [61] at Fort Montagne a la Basse (Bosse) [62]; southwest of Riding Mountain; and at Fishing Lakes at Fort Qu'Appelle (1804). [63] When he closed Fort Alexandria in 1805, he said the Indians would go either to "Riviere qui Appelle or up the Sisiscatchwin (sic) River near Fort Des Prairies." [64] This shows rather marked displacement of the Gros Ventres since Harmon says earlier (March 11, 1804) that the Qu'Appelle "belongs to the Rapid Indians." [65]

He confirms (1805) the continued occupation of Cree at Cumberland House and at South Branch Fort (Duck Lake). [66] The following year he notes Cree and Ojibwa trading at Moose Lake, east of The Pas. In that year also, a combined war party of Cree, Assiniboine and Blackfoot somewhere west or southwest of Duck Lake, on their way to attack the Gros Ventres, had a battle between themselves over the ownership of a horse and afterwards returned to their respective homes. [67] In 1808, he notes a few Cree trading at Ile a la Crosse (now predominantly Chipewyan) and a few at Fort Chipewyan. [68]

By 1817, the Cree had moved from Red River, their eastern boundary being near Portage la Prairie. [69] From this point onwards, the Plains Cree moved westward. Hind says that, between 1835 and 1858, diseases and wars had reduced their numbers from about four thousand to one thousand and they became an ineffective group on the plains. [70] In the woodlands, their numbers decreased, but not as markedly, and the area they maintained was fairly stable.

The Assiniboine

From the archaeological evidence in prehistoric sites, there is no doubt about the long and widespread intermixture of Assiniboine and Cree. However, this relationship could have preceded considerably the known breakaway of the Assiniboine from the Yanktonnai Dakota. Jenness has suggested this to be the early seventeenth century minus a few generations. [71] It is possible but highly unlikely that future archaeological research will throw much light on this problem.

Vickers presumes the Assiniboine were hunting the Red River and western territories about 1600. [72] My own work at the Lockport Site would confirm this and at the same time suggest an occupancy at Lockport dating back to at least 1000 A.D. MacNeish projects that "there is an indication that they were in Manitoba before 1350, and that they moved westward after that date." [73] At the same time he states that there is considerable evidence that Manitoba Focus (called Black Duck in Minnesota) is Assiniboine, [74] and he tentatively dates the Manitoba Focus as 1000-1350 A.D. [75]

Our earliest historical reference to the Assiniboine is in the Jesuit Relations. The Assiniboine are placed at Lake Nipigon in 1637-38. [76] Jenness places them around the Lake of the Woods and Lake Nipigon in the early 1600s. [77] It was obvious from the Lockport excavation that Cree and Assiniboine affiliation was strong in the upper four levels with only slight evidence of Assiniboine in the fifth and sixth levels. [78] These six levels covered the period of pottery-making at Lockport, a period of at least fifteen hundred years. The fourth level might indicate the original state of close co-operation between the two tribes.

Kelsey, in 1690-91, found the Assiniboine on the upper reaches of the Assiniboine River and northwards almost to the Saskatchewan River. [79]

That this tribe extended over a considerable area in the latter half of the 17th century is obvious. However, by 1733, La Verendrye does not describe any Assiniboine living east of Lake Winnipeg, although in that year a party did travel to Fort St. Charles from Lake Winnipeg. [80] On his westward trip he found them west of the Forks of the Red River. [81] They were at Fort La Reine that year. [82] The first villages were encountered on the third day out from Fort La Reine (possibly sixty to seventy-five miles out) and, some days later on their trip to the Missouri, they came to another Assiniboine camp but went twenty-two leagues out of their way. [83] It was obvious that, while this group controlled much of the area to the Missouri, it wasn't without protest from some bands of the Dakota.

There is a reference to the words of Jos. La France, an Indian, which were recorded concerning a trip from Lake Superior to Hudson Bay via Lake Winnipeg in 1739-42, in which he says: "Upon the west side of Lake Quinipique (Winnipeg) are the Nation of the Assinibouels of the Meadows." [84]

MacGregor citing Saint-Pierre, whom he acknowledges as nebulous and unreliable, makes use of the passage where Saint-Pierre leaves Fort La Reine on November 14, 1751 to visit Fort la Jonquiere but gives up the trip because of the disposition of the Assiniboine. [85] This would suggest that the Assiniboine were also to the northwest of present Portage la Prairie at that time since Fort La Jonquiere has been identified as being near the Forks of the Saskatchewan. [86] MacGregor places them scattered south and east of Tisdale in July-August, 1754. [87]

Mackenzie, from his "voyages" of 1789-93 says of the Assiniboine that they are in company of Plains Cree in the Nipawin and Duck Lake area; [88] they occupy the Assiniboine River area, [89] living in peace with the Ojibwa and Cree; and extend between the Assiniboine, Qu'Appelle and the Missouri Rivers. [90] MacDonell confirms the occupation of part of the area in 1793 when he tells of the arrival of some Assiniboine at Pine Fort. [91] Duncan M'Gillivray's journal from Fort George is full of references to Assiniboine. Horse stealing was a prime concern. Early in 1794, they stole forty horses from Fort George. [92] They returned in the summer and stole twenty more. [93] He mentions meeting a group returning from an unsuccessful expedition to their camp at Eagle Mountain. [94] On October 1, they stole eighty-four horses from the fort and left for parts unknown to make certain they kept them. [95] This was one band and there were several bands trading into Fort George from as far away as the South Saskatchewan and the Qu'Appelle Rivers. Mentioned specifically are the Canoe Assiniboine (Qu'Appelle), Grand River Assiniboine (South Saskatchewan River), and the Strong Woods (BattleRiver). [96]

In 1797-98, Thompson shows Assiniboine between Fort la Souris (Fort Assiniboine) and the Missouri, and then cites the younger Henry as showing Southern Manitoba as their home. [97] As with the Cree, the Assiniboine seem to be leaving Red River since Lockport (St. Andrews Rapids) is noted in the past tense as a place where both tribes waited to meet the traders. [98] This was August 18, 1800. However, this was not final since Vickers notes the Assiniboine and Cree north of the Forks (of the Red) in 1801. [99]

Harmon, at Fort Alexandria near Sturgis, Sask. (1801-1805), reports on the Assiniboine frequently in company of Cree. [100] A combined war party against the Gros Ventres arrived September 6-7, 1801, with slaves and scalps. [101] They were active horse thieves here too, since they stole twenty-two horses in May, 1802. [102] In 1804, Harmon visited with Assiniboine and Cree in the Lebret area of the Qu'Appelle Valley, [103] and there was at least one other combined camp between there and Fort Alexandria. [104] By this time, the Assiniboine and Cree were strongly entrenched in the Qu'Appelle Valley as the Gros Ventres narrowed their range westward. Between 1802 and 1804, the Cree and Assiniboine had made peace, at least temporarily, with the Blackfoot to the west. [105] At this time Lewis and Clark were in contact with Assiniboine camps and burials on the Missouri upstream from the villages. [106] Bushnell cites the remains of a camp on the Missouri twenty miles above the mouth of the Little Missouri which was probably the Assiniboine camp which Lewis and Clark visited. [107] Harmon reports trouble brewing with Cree and Assiniboine at Montagne a la Basse (Bosse) [108] April 10, 1805 probably southwest of present Riding Mountain. However, Indian movements were such at this time that Harmon was to abandon Fort Alexandria, and the Cree were to trade at Qu'Appelle and the Fort des Prairies (April 18, 1805). [109] In September of that year, the Assiniboine were trading at South Branch Fort (near Duck Lake). [110] On April 19, 1806, Harmon notes the conditions of the times: "The greater part of our Indians have gone to wage war upon the Rapid Indians (Gros Ventres), their inveterate enemies, with whom they frequently patch up a peace which, however, is of short continuance." [111] However, nine days later, he reports that the Gros Ventres have not been sleeping and have attacked an Assiniboine camp only fifteen miles from South Branch Fort. A few Assiniboine were killed. [112] Possibly a later war party, now joined with the Blackfoot also, fought amongst themselves over the possession of a horse. The war party disbanded after twenty-five Blackfoot and three Assiniboine were killed (reported August 8, 1806). [113] However, this was a definite part of the Gros Ventres displacement southwestward. Patterns were becoming set. Rev. John West describes an Assiniboine burial at Brandon House, January 22, 1821. [114] In 1825, some Assiniboine made a treaty with the United States Government on the Missouri River. A recent Assiniboine burial near Fort Union on the Missouri was described July 1, 1833. [115] I close this section with one last occurrence-the Dakota attack on an Assiniboine camp at the west end of Moose Mountain in 1840. [116] By this time, the U.S.-Canadian border was having a slight effect and the Assiniboine were split into two groups, the main one being in the United States. The Canadian group was largely decimated in the smallpox epidemic of 1836 when four thousand or more Assiniboine perished. [117]

The Ojibwa

To eliminate some confusion with the Chipewyan, and others, I will use the term Ojibwa. However, this nation has many names. Hilger says there are more than seventy different names for the group. [118] We hear of them as Saulteurs, Saulteaux, Chippeways, Ojibwa, Ojebways, Monsonis, and Bungee to name some. Jenness includes also the Missisauga of Manitoulin Island, the Ottawas and the Potawatomi. [119] Another closely related tribe, the Plains Ojibwa, are included in this group for brevity.

The Ojibwa are an Algonkian people speaking a language related to Cree, Blackfoot, and many others. We find the earliest historical references to the Ojibwa in the Jesuit Relations of the 1640s when French missionaries met them about Lakes Huron and Superior. In 1642, Fathers Raymbault and Jogues visited them at Sault Ste. Marie. [120]

Contact remains fairly constant with this group throughout their usefulness as a buffer group between the whites and the Indians farther west. This can be considered as a period from 1640 to 1830 or slightly later. From at least 1790 until the 1860s, we find that the Ojibwa are being used as much as possible as a buffer group by the Assiniboines and Crees against the Dakotas.

The efforts of the missionaries and the traders to curtail or eliminate inter-tribal warfare were necessary since people engaged in warfare cannot easily be evangelized or produce fur. Efforts to have the Ojibwa agree to the French peacemaking attempts failed because the Ojibwa said the Dakota were encroaching upon their trapping grounds. [121] However, three years later in 1665, the Ojibwa in Grand Council agreed to peace. [122] This would appear to be south of the present international boundary in Minnesota since the Monsoni (An Ojibwa group although enemies to a related group south of Lake Superior) were in command of the river route along the Pigeon and part of the Rainy River while their allies, the Cree, were in command of the Lake of the Woods area.

Moore states that in June, 1733, La Verendrye was visited by three hundred warrior Monsonis and the next day by five hundred Cree, all wearing war paint. It is further stated that hereditary hatreds were nursed by the northern Indians (Cree, Assiniboine and Monsonis) against the southern tribes (the Dakota and Ojibwa). [123] I find this a little difficult to understand. A. S. Morton identifies the Monsonis as Ojibwa. [124] Would Ojibwa fight Ojibwa in the way the Assiniboine were fighting the Dakota? If so, the situation drastically changed shortly since all Ojibwa seemed to be allied with the Cree and Assiniboine. There is a possibility that Ojibwa were the enemies of the Monsoni.s. The Monsonis seem to disappear from the scene. Perhaps Alexander Henry, the younger, provides a key on August 19, 1800 when he tells of Indians arriving at the site of Fort Rouge. He says they are called the Snakes who formerly inhabited the Lake of the Woods. They once were numerous (the Monsoni were), but now cannot muster more than fifty men. They may be said to be of the same nation as the Cree but have a different dialect somewhat resembling the Saulteur (Ojibwa) language. They now lived upon the Assiniboine about thirty leagues west of the Forks. [125] If these are the same group, we have an intriguing possibility for clarifying a chapter of history which mystifies me-where did the Monsoni go? If the Snakes are the Monsoni, this could be the answer. The Ojibwa called the Dakota "Nadewessis" which means Snakes or enemies. Is this the link? Possibly other sources can help to clarify this.

But to return to La Verendrye. On August 29th, 1733, one hundred and fifty gaily coloured canoes arrived at Fort St. Charles each carrying three to five Cree or Monsonis. [126] All the Monsoni are reported as escorting the supply canoes to Fort St. Charles in October, 1733 to trade. [127] At Christmas, news came to La Verendrye that three hundred Monsoni at Fort St. Pierre were preparing for war. [128] Beyond these, I found no other reference to the group.

In 1744 or 1745, a decisive battle was fought in the Mille Lacs area of Minnesota. The Battle of Kathio gave mastery of this hitherto Dakota area to the Ojibwa. The following years see the Ojibwa take over more Dakota territory. [129] Shortly afterwards, possibly as early as 1750 or as late as 1780, the Ojibwa destroyed a Cheyenne village on the Sheyenne River near Lisbon, N.D., west of Fargo. [130]

Garrioch states that the Ojibwa were invited into the Red River area about 1790 by the Assiniboine without the consent of the Cree to be buffers between the Dakota and the Assiniboine. [131] This would be a logical possibility since the most westerly advance was in the area between the Dakota on the south and the Cree and Assiniboine to the north. The elder Henry found the Ojibwa as far west as the Big Forks of the Rainy River in 1775. [132]

Mackenzie makes several mentions of the Ojibwa whom he calls the Algonquins. He allots the land east of the Red River to them and says they are considered natives of Lake Superior. [133] He bolsters this when he talks of the country next to Lake Winnipeg and about its source which he states is the "station" of the Algonquins and Knisteneaux (Cree). [134] The part of Lake Winnipeg meant must be the southern portion because in telling of the northern part of the lake he later says: "The inhabitants who are found along this lake are of the Knisteneaux (Cree) and Algonquin tribes, and but few in numbers ..." [135] About Lake Dauphin and the area north to the Saskatchewan River, Mackenzie says they are Cree from the north of Lake Winnipeg and Algonquins from the country between the Red River and Lake Superior. [136] Duncan M'Gillivray, in 1794, found a few tents of Cree and Ojibwa at Nipiwin. [137] M'Gillivray, also in 1794, reported Sotos (sic) between Nepawi (Nipawin) and Sturgeon River who had had a quarrel with the people of the lower department last fall. Both of these reports are from well west of where one would expect, from other historical evidence, to see Ojibwa. However, some groups have been found a considerable distance from where they could be expected. Even today, one Ojibwa group is somewhat removed from others. This is the band which has a reserve at Cochin, south of Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan.

Two references to the Ojibwa occur in Alexander Henry, the younger, which are useful here. He describes some goods "assorted for the Sauteur (Ojibwa) trade on Red River ..." [138] He also states that when he arrived at the Forks of the Red, there were forty Ojibwa awaiting his arrival. [139]

Harmon makes several references to the Ojibwa in his informative journals. In 1800, he says the residents of Grand Portage are Chippeways (Ojibwa). [140] In 1797, he states: "... the Natives who are Chippeways (Ojibwa), fired upon our people without killing any of them." This was on the Winnipeg River between Lake of the Woods and Lac du Bonnet. [141] This was information he had obtained after the event since 1797 was three years before his first trip to the West. However, difficulties between Indians and the traders were not uncommon. On August 11, 1800, he met some Chippeways (Ojibwa) and Muscagoes (Swampy Cree). [142] This would be in the area of the Narrows on Lake Winnipeg. On August 24, 1800, he writes that the people at Little Lake Winnipeg (Winnipegosis) are Chippeways (Ojibwa). [143] Also in this area, he tells of a post on the tributary Red Deer River and of a party to fish whitefish at Lake Bourbon (Cedar Lake), [144] suggesting that, while possibly the Ojibwa were not resident there, it was within their territory. In October, 1801, he tells of trade at Montagne Oiseau post (Duck Mountain?) where in addition to Cree and Muscagoes (apparently Plains and Swampy Cree), the Sauteux (Ojibwa) trade. [145] In June, 1805, Harmon, on the Assiniboine River (apparently closer to present Winnipeg than Portage la Prairie) reports "a considerably large camp of Sauteux (Ojibwa)." [146] In July, he reports from the Nipigon River that the natives are Sauteux (Ojibwa) and Muscagoes and that the latter come from towards Hudson Bay. [147] In September of that year, he is at South Branch Fort near present Duck Lake and reports Ojibwa among the other tribes trading there. [148] Earlier that same month, he notes the setting up of a post at Moose Lake east of The Pas where both Cree and Ojibwa trade. [149]

Their ownership of the Red River area was positive by 1805, and it is not unusual that Lord Selkirk dealt with this group when he made his treaty with the then-resident Ojibwa. [150] In fact, they reached the Turtle Mountains in 1820. [151]

For possibly two centuries the Ojibwa played a buffer role, first for the French and later for their Cree and Assiniboine allies. That they were aided by French guns at the beginning cannot be denied. However, it would appear that their considerable numbers were especially important once their original buffer role was finished.

One interesting note which must express little more than the way in which the Ojibwa thought of themselves and the large area they occupied, is added. Rev. P. Jones in his History of the Ojibway Indians tells of a tradition amongst these people in 1861, that many generations ago the tribe made extensive war excursions against the Flatheads beyond the Rockies. [152]

The Chipewyans

This Athapaskan group are believed to be one of the latest waves of migration out of Asia preceding the Eskimo. Suggestive of this is the fact that Athapaskan movements out of the north have been late-the major of these, the Navaho and Apache, having occurred between 1106 and 1500. [153]

The first evidence of non-Europeans reported directly for northern Manitoba would appear to be at Churchill where Jens Munk wintered in 1619-20. "... There was no trade with natives, for though traces of their wanderings were clear, none appeared during Munk's stay." [154] Whether these traces were Chipewyan, Eskimo or other groups we do not know.

Captain Luke noted signs of Indians at Port Nelson in 1631: "... we found ... the frame of a tent standing which had lately been made, with the studdie (smithy) of the fire, the haire of Deere, and bones of fowle, left here, ... we have seene no Salvage (savage) since I came, although I caused fires to burne night and day, but the woods are so thicke, as cannot be seen 12 score yards, so that none could come to us, but by water." [155]

There is insufficient evidence to differentiate between Chipewyan or Cree but the evidence does point towards Indian rather than Eskimo.

Gorst, who was with Groseilliers at Port Nelson in 1670, reported: "There is very fine Marsh land and great plenty of wood about a mile beyond the Marshes yet not very large. There were ye remains of some of ye Natives Wigwams and Sweating houses and some pieces of dressed Beaver skins, and they supposed the Indians had not long been gone from that place further southward or higher up into the country." [156]

From this reference, I am inclined to believe that the Indians responsible were Cree from the mention of sweat houses, but our information on Chipewyan is poor so that it is unwise to come to a definite decision.

Once the fur trade posts were established, beginning in 1682, the Cree were in firm control-hence the later name "Home Indians" by the Hudson's Bay Company. It is obvious from the York Fort Journals that the Chipewyan efforts to reach York Fort to trade were almost invariably obstructed by the Cree who relieved the Chipewyans of their possessions. This situation became of prime concern to the Hudson's Bay Company because there were fewer attempts by the Chipewyans to reach York Fort. Captain James Knight's Journal records some of the period around 1715, and some of his observations follow. In 1713, the Cree destroyed a band of Chipewyans but kept some of the women as slaves. One of these women could speak some Cree and Captain Knight employed her effectively in 1715 in attempting to negotiate the truce between Cree and Chipewyan. During the course of the search on the Barren Lands for the Chipewyan, one group was attacked by Cree and destroyed. However, a truce was effected. [157] Jenness terms this an uneasy truce and such it must have been. [158] Only the possibility that the Hudson's Bay would stop trade would have influenced the Cree; a threat which the Hudson's Bay Company would have been unlikely to carry out. With the establishment of a fort at Churchill in 1717, the Chipewyan obtained guns which they used to push the Eskimo farther north. [159] In June or July, 1716, Eskimos had ambushed some Chipewyan in the area of Churchill). [160] With the later operations of Fort Prince of Wales, a form of status quo evolved in spite of the fact the Cree were hangers-on at the Fort. While the situation was generally stabilized in the eastern part of Chipewyan territory, probably by 1720, the pressure of the Cree in the west and especially along the Athabaska and Slave Rivers in northern Alberta did not decline until a truce (1760) was made in areas formerly held by the Beaver and Slave Indians, kin of the Chipewyan. [161] Pond, in late 1778, does not note any trouble between the two groups even though he "saw a vast concourse of the Knisteneaux (Cree) and Chipewyan tribes ..." [162] The establishment of his post or. the Elk River south of Lake Athabaska made it unnecessary for the Cree and Chipewyans to trade at Churchill; the latter having used the Churchill River system while the Chipewyans travelled over the Barren Lands. [163]

In 1781, smallpox devastated the Chipewyans, Hearne estimating that nine-tenths of the group perished. [164] Because of the resurgence of the Chipewyan in 1784 in the Ile a la Crosse area in Saskatchewan pushing back the Cree, it is likely that the Chipewyans close to Churchill were badly hit in the 1781 epidemic. This, coupled with the inroads of Montreal traders with the Chipewyans farther west, gave the impression that the Chipewyans had almost died out.

Alexander Mackenzie has a special section on the Chipewyan. Writing about the period 1789-1793, he describes their territorial boundaries as follows: "It begins at Churchill, and runs along the line of separation between them and the Knisteneaux, up the Missinipi (Churchill River) to the Ile a la Crosse, passing on through the Buffalo Lake, River Lake, and Portage la Loche: from thence it proceeds by the Elk River to the Lake of the Hills (Lake Athabaska) ..." [165]

In another reference specific to the Ile a la Crosse area, he says the Cree and Chipewyan live there but that the latter consider themselves as strangers seldom remaining longer than three or four years. [166] The movement of Chipewyans back into this area must have resulted after the Cree were decimated by smallpox in 1784, and, possibly, because the Chipewyan in the area to the north must have escaped the smallpox in 1781. This alone could account for the Chipewyans moving south since if they had been decimated in 1781, there would have been little reason for the remnants to migrate. By 1808 (August 25), Harmon reports that the Indians trading at Ile a la Crosse are Chipewyans "in considerable numbers, and a few Crees." [167]

Another case of Chipewyan movement south is in the Portage la Loche area northwest of Ile a la Crosse. Pond, in 1788, makes no reference to Chipewyans at this point but notes Cree farther north. [168] Harmon notes, on September 3, 1808, that a small band of Chipewyans live at Portage la Loche. [169] The change at Fort Chipewyan can be noted also. Pond, in 1778, did not differentiate in numbers between the two tribes. [170] Harmon, however, in 1808 (September 7), states that "a few Crees and a greater number of Chipewyans, resort to this establishment." [171] Birket-Smith states that active hostilities had ceased by the end of the eighteenth century between the Chipewyan and their Cree and Eskimo neighbours. He places the credit for this with the Hudson's Bay Company. [172]

Some later references support this. On July 17, 1823, the Rev. John West tells of visiting a tent of Chipewyans near Cape Churchill. [173] The Eskimo were contacted at Churchill. Simpson notes peaceful meetings of Chipewyans and Eskimos north in the Barren Lands in 1832 and 1836. [174] Rev. Father M. J. E. A. Gaste with the Chipewyans contacted the inland Eskimo in the summer of 1868. Relations were very friendly. [175]

The Dakota

The Dakota are a group who have had a steady influence on the Indian groups in Manitoba while occupying little of the province at any time. The term Dakota is used in this paper as it is more accurate than the term Sioux. The Assiniboine are also a Siouan group as are the Crow, Hidatsa and others. However, the Dakota is used to denote those groups of the Dakota who lived in Minnesota, and the Dakotas during the period under discussion.

Jesuit Fathers Raymbault and Joques (in 1641) heard of the Dakota living eighteen days west of Sault Ste. Marie beyond the Great Lake (Superior). [176] In 1659, Radisson wintered amongst the Dakota on the Mississippi, [177] probably in the Mille Lacs area of Minnesota. In 1661, the Dakota brought supplies to Radisson and Groseilliers at Chequamagan Bay. That year, both men spent some time with the Dakota in the Mille Lacs area. In the winter, the Dakota trapped north of the Minnesota River. [178]

The following year, the Dakota signed a treaty with the French. [179] In that year, 1662, the Ojibwa refused to make peace with the Dakota who "are encroaching on their trapping grounds." [180] Three years later in 1665, the Ojibwa in Grand Council decided to make peace with the Dakota. [181] Father Allouez, the same year, met the Dakota at the west end of Lake Superior. [182] In 1670, because of trouble with the Dakota, the French retire from the Upper Lakes. [183] However, by 1695, Pierre La Sueur had a trading post in Minnesota amongst the Dakota, [184] probably in the Mille Lacs area.

An era was ending. About 1725, the Dakota began to secure horses and this was the beginning of a marked transition from woodland to plains culture. One of the main factors for the Dakota movements and culture change was the strength of the Ojibwa. In 1732, this group stopped the Dakota advance to the north, [185] possibly near the present international boundary. The following year, 1733, La Verendrye reported the Cree and Monsoni sending a war party against the Dakota in the area south and east of the Lake of the Woods. [186] However, the Dakota continued to make inroads to the north whenever possible. In 1736, they attacked La Verendrye's Fort St. Charles in the Lake of the Woods killing twenty-one French. [187]

The see-saw movements of the opposing groups were resolved in favour of the Ojibwa at the Battle of Kathio in 1744 or 1745, whereby the Ojibwa secured control of the Mille Lacs region of Minnesota, and the next few years saw abandonment of additional Dakota territory to the invader. [188]

The westward movement onto the Plains, aided by the horse, continued steadily. In 1804, Lewis and Clark visited a Teton Dakota village on the Missouri at the mouth of the Teton River at present Pierre, S.D. [189] The area controlled by the Dakota remained large. On July 19, 1815, the Dakota signed a treaty with the United States at Portage des Sioux near St. Louis. [190] A Yanktonai Dakota village is reported in the vicinity of Lake Traverse at the source of the Red River, July 26, 1823. [191]

In 1825, a convention was signed between the Dakota and the United States at Prairie du Chien. [192]

Catlin reports the Teton Dakota at Fort Pierre (present South Dakota) in 1832 [193] and the following year, some Yankton Dakota are reported on the Missouri River at Sioux Agency. [194]

In this period, the Dakota were making their presence felt along the Red River. Harmon, on August 1, 1808, notes: "... I also received a letter from him, (William Henry at the Lower Red River) in which he informs me, that his fort was attacked this summer, by a considerable party of Sieux (sic)." [195]

In 1821, the settlers at Red River petition for protection against the Dakota. [196] In 1822, settlers were slain by the Dakota in one Red River parish on four different occasions. [197] However, the Dakota were generally moving westward. In 1840, the Dakota attacked an Assiniboine camp at the west end of Moose Mountain. [198]

The later history of the Dakota is one which is recorded ably in many sources. The effect on movements in Manitoba and the West become less important as colonization advanced.

The Blackfoot

The Blackfoot have been considered by students to have had an eastern origin, not because of any specific Blackfoot tradition, but because of similar groups, primarily the Cheyenne-Sutaio and the Arapaho-Atsina farther east. [199]

Archaeologically, Wettlaufer believes the Blackfoot occupied the Long Creek site in the extreme southeast corner of Saskatchewan intermittently between 1000 and 1500 A.D. [200] This recent report provides possible supporting evidence for the theory of an eastern origin for the group. It seems positive that at the beginning of the historic period (ca. 1720) they lived in the Eagle Hills of west-central Saskatchewan. This is not very far east of their eventual nineteenth century position. [201]

Our lack of knowledge of the earliest periods makes it difficult to consider the role of the Blackfoot on the prairies. It is possible that as the Cree moved westward from Manitoba, after they obtained guns from the Hudson's Bay Company, starting in 1682, they were displacing Blackfoot. One of the stories which I have heard from members of the Feter Ballantyne Band of the Cree [202] has been of a Cree-Blackfoot battle near Pelican Narrows in Northeastern Saskatchewan. However, this accounts for the doubtful area in east-central Saskatchewan marked on Figure 7. The dating of 1650-1700 would be likely as this would include the initial acquisition of guns by the Cree, and their occupancy of this area.

The acquisition of firearms permitted the Cree to move quickly westward displacing Athapaskan groups who were forced northward and the Blackfoot who were forced southwestward, This brought the Blackfoot in direct conflict with the Shoshoni (Snakes) who were moving steadily northward. The horses of the Shoshoni were a distinct advantage in the initial stages of the struggle.

The Blackfoot soon acquired firearms from the northeast and then horses, probably in trade with the Flathead, Kutenai, Nez Perce or Gros Ventres. [203] They then pushed the Shoshoni south and west. They pushed the Flathead and Kutenai off the plains and into the Rockies. In addition, their former hostility to Cree and Assiniboine continued and later extended to their former allies, the Gros Ventres. [204] From early in the eighteenth century until almost the end of the nineteenth century, the Blackfoot were continually at war with their neighbours.

In 1748, Fort La Corne on the Saskatchewan River about twenty miles below the junction of its two major branches, east of Prince Albert, Sask., was "established only a few days journey from the Blackfoot country." [205]

In 1787-1788, David Thompson spent the winter in a Piegan (Blackfoot) village in present southern Alberta. [206]

Mackenzie for the period 1789-1793 places the Blackfoot as follows: "Opposite to those (Sarcees) Eastward, on the head-waters of the South Branch, are the Picaneaux (Piegans) to the number of from twelve to fifteen hundred men. Next to them, on the same water, are the BloodIndians, of the same nation as the last, to the number of about fifty tents, or two hundred and fifty men. From them downwards extend the Blackfoot Indians of the same nation as the last two tribes: their number may be eight hundred men." [207]

On October 7, 1794, M'Gillivray at Fort George on the North Saskatchewan River in Alberta notes: [208] "At noon we were informed that a small Band of Blackfoot were intercepted by a party of Crees on the opposite (south) side of the River and in danger of being pillaged." [209]

Five days later, he noted: "A small band of Piegans arrived in the morning and traded instantly to prevent any quarrels between them and the other nations at the House." [210] Nine days later, he reported more of the Confederacy arriving: "About noon a few Blood-Indians and Circees (sic) followed by a band of Assiniboine arrived with a small quantity of pounded meat and Grease." [211]

On November 10, 1794, he reported the arrival of three Sarcee and four Piegan Chiefs with about twenty young men. [212] Six days later, two Piegan chiefs and seven men arrived and M'Gillivray notes that nearly twice as many went to the English. [213] Ten days later, he notes: "Early in the morning 12 young men arrived for tobacco for 20 Blackfoot and Blood Indian Chiefs and shortly thereafter the whole Band appeared upon the River where about 30 men separated for the English House whilst all the rest amounting to 70 or 80 men slowly marched towards us." [214]

The following spring (April 9, 1795), he reports the arrival of thirty Bloods and ten Blackfoot. [215] Three days later, a steady stream of Blackfoot began arriving and in three days there were about two hundred men trading at the two forts. [216] Nine days later (April 24), M'Gillivray notes the arrival of a large band consisting of Sarcees, Cree, Piegans and Bloods who have been absent all winter. "The Crees are quite pitiful this spring having amused themselves during the winter with smoking and feasting with the Piegans." [217]

Harmon notes, on July 25, 1804, at Alexandria (south of present Sturgis, Sask.) that forty tents of Cree and Assiniboine who went into Blackfoot territory two years previously have concluded a peace, and are on their way home. [218] The following year (September 21, 1805), he notes that a few Blackfoot trade into South Branch Fort [219] (south of present Duck Lake, Sask.). They were probably part of the war party which he reported April 19, 1806, when "the greater part of our Indians have gone to wage war upon the Rapid Indians (Gros Ventres of the Plains), their inverterate enemies, with whom they frequently patch up a peace which, however, is of short continuance." [220] This is probably the same war party reported to have later quarrelled over a horse. The ensuing fight resulted in twenty-one Blackfoot and three Assiniboine being killed. Assiniboine brought the news to South Branch Fort on August 8, 1806. [221]

For purposes of this hasty survey, a quotation from Ewers gives a fitting synopsis of one of the major causes of Blackfoot warfare: "The causes of intertribal wars in which the Blackfoot engaged, and which were initiated prior to 1810, cannot be specifically documented from historical records. Nevertheless, the prominent part played by horse raiding in the intertribal warfare of the late 18th and early 19th century as emphasized in fur traders' accounts suggests that the Indians' need for horses to use in hunting buffalo and transporting food and domestic articles furnished a major motive for that early warfare. Our knowledge of the direction of flow in the distribution of horses among the tribes of this region in the 18th century and of the relative wealth in horses of these tribes at a somewhat later date would suggest that the Blackfoot were the aggressors in their early wars with the tribes to the south and west, while the horse-poor Cree and Assiniboine were the aggressors in their conflict with the Blackfoot. [222]

The Sarcees

One of the groups who were steadily identified with the Blackfoot, although of a different linguistic group, were the Sarcees. Hewes feels that they are late as far as occupation of the prairies is concerned, probably late 18th century. [223] It is possible, however, that this is one of the groups who were left en route during the southward movement of the Navaho-Apache, and that they have been on the prairies for some centuries.

The Sarcees were not numerous. Mackenzie places them (1789-1793) "at the Southern Head-waters of the North-branch" (of the Saskatchewan River) consisting of about thirty-five or one hundred and twenty men. [224] It is likely that the group were a buffer for the Blackfoot with the Athapaskans to the north and northwest. That they acted successfully as such is probably due to the small concentrations and poor organization of the other Athapaskans in the adjacent areas.

The mentions of Sarcees in fur trade accounts are not frequent. M'Gillivray mentions them several times in 1794-179 at Fort George. [225] Mackenzie mentions the area they occupied about 1790. [226]

The alliance of the Blackfoot and Sarcees continued until the reservation period when such alliances lost their dynamic meaning.

The Gros Ventres of the Plains (Atsina)

The Gros Ventres tribe played an important part in the history of Saskatchewan, a role which is being re-discovered gradually. This Algonkian group originally were part of the Northern Arapaho tribe who once lived in the Red River Valley probably as far north as the present-day international boundary. [227] They were once a sedentary, agricultural people.

In determining the movements of this group, one notes a confusion in early records. This is because of another group, the Hidatsa, who were also called Gros Ventres. Both have occupied parts of the northeast quarter of North Dakota, and in many respects, their migration routes have been close enough at times to cause confusion. That they were also in Saskatchewan is another confusing factor.

Another name for this group is the Atsina. Hewes places this group, while they were a part of the Northern Arapaho, in the Red River Valley north of Grand Forks, North Dakota, in his projections for the period 1100 A.D. to at least 1400 A.D. [228] He has them moving westward by 1600 [229] and he feels that their split from the Arapaho occurred by 1720-1730, and that they had moved northeastward from the mouth of the Little Missouri into Saskatchewan, nearly to the site of Saskatoon. [230]

The possibility that the Arapaho-Atsina occupied the Red River Valley north of Grand Forks is an intriguing one, suggesting that evidence for this hypothesis should be available in sites along the Red River in Canada also. However, little, if any work, has been done along the Red River between Winnipeg and Grand Forks: work which is necessary if this possibility is to be explored.

Jenness believes that by about 1750 the Atsina were roaming over the southern part of Saskatchewan. [231] Anthony Hendry, in 1754, visited a camp of about two hundred lodges of the Archithinue Indians in Saskatchewan. [232] Mathew Cocking, in 1772, in his attempt to open trade again with the Archithinue, met a small band west of the Eagle Hills in Saskatchewan whom he identifies as Waterfall Indians. Waterfall or Rapid Indians were other names for the Gros Ventres of the Plains. He states that the term Archithinue also included the Blood, Piegan, Blackfoot and Sarcee. [233]

It is likely that the group reported by Hendry in 1754 were Gros Ventres. For 1789-1793 Mackenzie notes: "The Assiniboine, and some of the Fall, or Big-bellied Indians, are the principal inhabitants of this country, and border on the river occupying the centre part of it." [234] This refers to the area of southern Saskatchewan between the South Saskatchewan, Qu'Appelle and Assiniboine Rivers, and the Missouri. It is likely that he is writing about the Gros Ventres of the Plains (Atsina).

Harmon, writing in 1805 at South Branch Fort on the South Saskatchewan near present Duck Lake, notes: "One (post), which was situated about six miles below this was abandoned fifteen years since, on account of an attack from the Rapid Indians." [235] This would be about the year 1790. Umfreville, writing about the same year, mentions the Gros Ventres or big-bellies. He notes: This nation is thus named by us (Fall Indians) ... from their inhabiting a country on the Southern Branch of the river (Saskatchewan) where rapids are frequent." [236]

Mackenzie (1789-1793) places the Fall or "Big-bellied Indians" next to the Blackfoot and extending to the junction of the North and South Saskatchewan Rivers. He believes them to number about six hundred warriors. [237] M'Gillivray mentions their meeting the Cree occasionally at South Branch Fort until the summer of 1793. That summer the Cree exterminated a band of sixteen lodges except for a few children. [238] In the winter of 1793-1794, the Gros Ventres attacked Pine Island Fort unsuccessfully but attacked the nearby English Fort also and plundered it. [239]

The Gros Ventres continued their raids. M'Gillivray notes: "... it appears that the Gros Ventres have made a desperate attack on the Forts at South Branch on the 24th of July last (1794) and we are sorry to learn that they have been but too successful ..." [240]

Thompson notes them about this time and later. "The Fall Indians, their former residence was on the rapids of the Saskatchewan, about 100 miles above Cumberland House; they speak a harsh language which no other tribe attempts to learn ... Their chief was of a bad character and brought them into so many quarrels with their allies, they had to leave their country and wandered to the right bank of the Missouri to near the Mandan villages." [241]

With Thompson and Umfreville, there seems to be a good possibility that they have some confusion between the two groups who were called the Gros Ventres. There is some indication that they are also including the Hidatsa, although this might not be the case.

In 1801, Harmon mentions the Rapid Indians who remained a considerable distance out in the Plains (from Fort Alexandria) and near the upper part of the Missouri River. The Assiniboine and Cree at Fort Alexandria had left on a war party against the Gros Ventres in May, 1801, and on June 10, 1801, those who were left heard that the Gros Ventres were forming a war party against them. [242] On September 6, 1801, he received reports that the Cree and Assiniboine had been successful in their attack upon the Gros Ventres, killing a great many, and bringing home a number of women and children as slaves. They arrived the following day with several slaves and a few scalps. [243] On March 11, 1804, he reports he is at the Qu'Appelle River where he finds a large encampment of Cree and Assiniboine. He notes that they seldom come this far since this area belongs to the Gros Ventres. [244]

However, it is obvious that the Gros Ventres are being pushed southwestward and they will not return to the Qu'Appelle. Harmon, the following year (April 18, 1805), notes that he is abandoning Fort Alexandria. The remaining Cree and Assiniboine will go either to the area of the Qu'Appelle River or the Saskatchewn River near Fort des Prairies. [245]

The following year (April 28, 1806), he reports a Gros Ventres raid on an Assiniboine camp fifteen miles from South Branch Fort in which several Assiniboine were killed. [246] This seems to be a final thrust of the Gros Ventres who were soon out of the area. The group, ironically, were to be placed later on a reserve with the Assiniboine at Fort Belknap, Montana.

The Hidatsa

The Hidatsa are a group which have lived close to Canada for centuries and until recently were considered not to have made more than short hunting visits. Hewes places this group in the Devil's Lake area of North Dakota about 1400 A.D., moving to the Missouri about 1600 A.D. [247] The Crow Indians broke away from the Hidatsa about this time, moving further to the west along the Missouri and YellowstoneRiver. [248] The Long Creek Site was occupied by Hidatsa (ca 1600 A.D.). [249]

This site in extreme southeastern Saskatchewan is the only documented site where Hidatsa evidence has been found in Canada. I cannot agree with Wettlaufer when he says that: "this branch (of the Hidatsa) inhabited the central portion of Saskatchewan from somewhere around 1600 until at least 1804." [250]

While there is some reference to guttural-speaking Indians (and Hidatsa were of guttural Siouan language stock), there is obviously confusion between the Gros Ventres of the Plains (Atsina) and the Gros Ventres (Hidatsa). As I have mentioned previously, it is likely that both David Thompson and Umfreville, amongst others, confused the two groups because all other evidence is contrary to the possibility that the Hidatsa occupied much of Saskatchewan. Outside of the Long Creek Site, no other sites have been recognized in Saskatchewan as Hidatsa; something which could be expected if the Hidatsa had ranged so widely for over two centuries. This takes into account the limited archaeological work which has been done in Saskatchewan.

The only other occurrence postulated for Hidatsa is the claim of Libby that this group had built earth lodges at Star Mound in south-central Manitoba. [251] Vickers was unable to locate any signs of these. [252]

With the present information which we have, I do not think we can assume that the Hidatsa did any more than touch the edge of present Canadian territory and then, probably, for very short periods.

Other Tribes

A few of the tribes mentioned in early records are not dealt with specifically since they were arbitrarily considered on the peripheries of this study. However, a few passing mentions will be made. The Kutenais, who were pushed into the mountains as they tried to move onto the plains, were determined to move through the Blackfoot to trade. In 1795, they were reported desperate for trade goods: "... the Coutonees a tribe from the Southwest are determined to force their way this year to the Fort or perish in the attempt." [253]

Harmon records the Beaver Indians coming in "great numbers" to trade at Fort Vermilion on the Peace River. [254] He notes other groups of Beavers at Encampment Island Fort and Dunvegan farther up the river. [255] These references are noted in October, 1808. At the same time, he notes Iroquois in the area occupied by the Beavers at Fort Vermilion and Dunvegan. [256] These eastern Canadian Indians had come into the area originally in the employ of the fur companies and Harmon notes them in both instances as hunters.

The problem of further defining the Indian migrations in Manitoba and the West is one upon which a great deal of work is required. The primary resource, other than additional sources which can be found among fur trade records, must be the untold archaeological sites which have been located and which should be excavated. The archaeological possibilities are ones which must be fully exploited if the picture is to emerge from the present state of partial confusion. It is hoped that the foregoing will provide some broad guidelines in the total picture.


I am indebted to Miss Mary Romaniuk for the typing of the final draft of this manuscript.

1. Wilson W. Crook, Jr. and R. K. Harris, "A Pleistocene Campsite near Lewisville, Texas". American Antiquity. n.s., Vol. XXIII, No. 3, Jan. 1958, pp. 233-242.

2. R. S. MacNeish, "An introduction to the Archaeology of Southeast Manitoba" (Ottawa, 1958), National Museum of Canada, Bulletin 157, p. 55.

3. G. Laviolette. The Sioux Indians in Canada (Regina, 1944), p. 12.

4. D. Jenness, The Indians of Canada (Ottawa, 1932, 4th Edition 1958), National Museum of Canada, Bulletin 65, Anthropological Series No. 15, p. 308.

5. W. M. Hlady, "The Ceramic Sequence at the Lockport Site and Its Bearing on North American Archaeology," m.s. on file at the University of North Dakota, 1950, pp. 1-13.

6. MacNeish, op. cit., p. 55.

7. W. L. Morton, Manitoba - A History (Toronto, 1957), p. 13.

8. A. G. Doughty and C. Martin, The Kelsey Papers (Ottawa, 1929), p. xxxvii-xxxviii.

9. V. F. Kenney (Editor), The Founding of Churchill (Being the Journal of Captain James Knight) (Toronto, 1932), p. 52.

10. Kenney, op. cit., p. 56.

11. Kenney, op. cit., p. 56.

12. Kenney, op. cit., p. 59.

13. Samuel Hearne, A Journey from Prince of Wales’ Fort in Hudson's Bay to the Northern Ocean (Toronto, 1958), Edited by R. Glover, p. 115 ff.

14. I. Moore, Valiant La Verendrye (Quebec, 1927), p. 133.

15. Ibid., p. 139.

16. A. S. Morton, A History of the Canadian West to 1870-1871 (Toronto, 1939), p. 11.

17. Moore, op. cit., p. 154.

18. A. C. Garrioch, The Correction Line (Winnipeg, 1933), pp. 109-110.

19. Moore, op. cit., p. 164.

20. Ibid., p. 268.

21. Ibid., p. 328.

22. Ibid., p. 364.

23. E. Coues (Editor), The Manuscript Journals of Alexander Henry and of David Thompson 1799-1814 (New York, 1897), Vol. 1, p. 41.

24. J. MacGregor, Behold the Shining Mountains (Edmonton, 1954), p. 48.

25. H. A. Innis, Peter Pond (Toronto, 1930), p. 69.

26. C. Vickers, "Aboriginal Backgrounds in Southern Manitoba", Historical and Scientific Society of Manitoba (Winnipeg, 1946), Season 1945-46, p. 3.

27. Garrioch, op. cit., p. 109.

28. Alexander Mackenzie, Voyages front Montreal Through the Continent of North America (Toronto, 1911), Vol. 1, p. cxvii.

29. Innis, op. cit., p. 71.

30. Ibid., pp. 80-81.

31. Jenness, op. cit., p. 385.

32. Ibid., p. 284.

33. Ibid., p. 317.

34. Mackenzie, op. cit., Vol. 1, p. clxxi.

35. Duncan M'Gillivray, The Journal of Duncan M'Gillivray (1794-5), Edited by A. S. Morton, (Toronto, 1929), p. 62.

36. Ibid., p. 20.

37. NE ¼, Sec. 24, T. 56, R. 6 West of the 4th Meridian.

38. M'Gillivray, op. cit., p. 29.

39. Ibid., p. 32.

40. Ibid., p. 35.

41. Ibid., p. 35.

42. Ibid., p. 39.

43. Ibid., p. 41.

44. Ibid., p. 74.

45. Ibid., pp. 74, 75.

46. F. G. Roe, The Indian and the Horse (Norman, 1955), p. 209.

47. Mackenzie, op. cit., p. cxl.

48. Ibid., p. cxli.

49. Ibid., p. cxx.

50. Ibid., p. cxxxiii.

51. Ibid., p. cxxv.

52. Ibid., p. cx.

53. Ibid., p. ciii.

54. Ibid., p. lvi.

55. Coues, op. cit., p. 43.

56. Coues, op. cit., Vol. 1, p. 46. It is likely this group are now known as Plains Ojibwa.

57. W. M. Hlady, "The Archaeology of the Red River of the North and the Whiteshell River Areas." Proceedings of the Fifth Plains Conference for Archaeology, (Lincoln, 1949), p. 94. Also W. M. Hlady, "Manitoba Archaeology," Manitoba Arts Review, Vol. VIII, No. 1, (Winnipeg, 1952) pp. 25, 32.

58. Vickers, op. cit., pp. 3-4.

59. Daniel Williams Harmon, A Journal of Voyages and Travels in the Interior of North America (Toronto, 1904), p. 24.

60. Ibid., pp. 34, 35, 51, 55-6, 69-70, 88, 99, 104.

61. Ibid., p. 56.

62. Ibid., p. 104.

63. Ibid., p. 81.

64. Ibid., p. 106.

65. Ibid., p. 89.

66. Ibid., pp. 115-6.

67. Ibid., p. 120.

68. Ibid., pp. 136, 139.

69. Vickers, op. cit., p. 3.

70. H. Y. Hind, Northwest Territory, Reports of Progress (Toronto, 1859), p. 46.

71. Jenness, op. cit., p. 308.

72. Vickers, op. cit., p. 4.

73. MacNeish, op. cit., p. 79.

74. Ibid., p. 82.

75. Ibid., p. 55.

76. R. G. Thwaites (Editor) Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents (Cleveland, 1897), Vol. 54, p. 193.

77. Jenness, op. cit., p. 308.

78. Hlady, "Ceramic Sequence" pp. 1-13.

79. A. S. Morton, op. cit., pp. 112-113.

80. Moore, op. cit., pp. 148, 164.

81. Vickers, op. cit., p. 4.

82. Moore, op. cit., p. 275.

83. Ibid., pp. 275, 282.

84. Doughty and Martin, op. cit., p. xxxvii.

85. MacGregor, op. cit., p. 44.

86. A. S. Morton, op. cit., pp. 237-8.

87. MacGregor, op. cit., p. 48.

88. Mackenzie, op. cit., p. cx.

89. Ibid., p. cii.

90. Ibid., p. ciii.

91. Cited by Vickers, op. cit., pp. 4-5.

92. M'Gillivray, op. cit., p. 27.

93. Ibid., p. 27.

94. Ibid., p. 26.

95. Ibid., p. 27.

96. Ibid., pp. 27, 34, 35, 50.

97. Cited by Vickers, op. cit., p. 6.

98. Coues, op cit., p. 43.

99. Vickers, op. cit., p. 3.

100. Harmon, op. cit., p. 34.

101. Ibid., pp. 55-6.

102. Ibid., p. 63.

103. Ibid., p. 81.

104. Ibid., p. 85.

105. Ibid., p. 99.

106. M. Lewis and W. Clark, History of the Expedition under the command of Captains Lewis and Clark (Philadelphia, 1814), Vol. 1, pp. 191-192.

107. David I. Bushnell, Jr., Burials of the Algonquian, Siouan and Caddoan Tribes West of the Mississippi, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 83 Washington, 1927), p. 44.

108. Harmon, op. cit., p. 104.

109. Ibid., p. 106.

110. Ibid., p. 116.

111. Ibid., pp. 119-120.

112. Ibid., p. 120.

113. Ibid., pp. 120-121.

114. Rev. John West, The Substance of a Journal During a Residence at the Red River Colony (London, 1827), p. 33.

115. Maximilian, Prince of Wied, Travels in the Interior of North America (London, 1843), p. 205.

116. LaViolette, op. cit., p. 26.

117. Jenness, op. cit., p. 316.

118. Sister M. Inez Hilger, Chippewa Child Life and Its Cultural Background, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 146 (Washington, 1951), p. 2.

119. Ibid., p. 277.

120. Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, Vol. 23, p. 225; Vol. 54, p. 193.

121. LaViolette, op. cit., p. 19.

122. Ibid., p. 20.

123. Moore, op. cit., p. 154.

124. A. S. Morton, op. cit., p. 11.

125. Coues, op. cit. Vol. 1, p. 146.

126. Moore, op. cit., p. 160.

127. Ibid., p. 160.

128. Ibid., p. 161.

129. Scudder McKeel, "A Short History of the Teton-Dakota," North Dakota Historical Quarterly, Vol. x No. 3 (Bismarck, 1945), p. 151.

130. Duncan W. Strong, "From History to Prehistory in the Northern Great Plains," Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, Vol. 100, (Washington, 1940), p. 370.

131. Garrioch, op. cit., pp. 109-110.

132. Cited by Vickers, op. cit., p. 3.

133. Mackenzie, op. cit., p. ci.

134. Ibid., p. ciii.

135. Ibid., p. cvi.

136. Ibid., p. cv.

137. M'Gillivray, op. cit., p. 20.

138. Coues, op. cit. Vol 1, p. 7.

139. Ibid., p. 44.

140. Harmon, op. cit., p. 11.

141. Ibid., p. 20.

142. Ibid., p. 24.

143. Ibid., p. 26.

144. Ibid., p. 27.

145. Ibid., p. 56.

146. Ibid., p. 109.

147. Ibid., p. 113.

148. Ibid., p. 116.

149. Ibid., p. 122.

150. Vickers, op. cit., p. 3.

151. Gordon W. Hewes, "Early Tribal Migrations in the Northern Great Plains", Plains Archaeological Conference Newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 4, Lincoln, pp. 3-12, 1948.

152. Rev. Peter Jones, History of the Ojibway Indians (London, 1861), p. 129.

153. Hewes, op. cit., p. 7.

154. W. L. Morton, op. cit., p. 5, citing, C. C. A. Gosch, Danish Arctic Expeditions 1605-1620, Hakluyt Society, (London. 1897), Vol. II, p. 23.

155. Luke Fox, North-west Fox or Fox from the North-west Passage (London, 1635), p. 216.

156. Grace Lee Nute, Caesars of the Wilderness (New York, 1943), pp. 291-2. Appendix 2 being "Extract of Mr. Thomas Gorst's Journal in the Voyage to Hudson's Bay begun the 31th (sic) day of May 1670."

157. Kenney, op. cit., pp. 52, 59.

158. Jenness, op. cit., p. 385.

159. Ibid., p. 385.

160. Kenney, op. cit., p. 56.

161. Jenness, op. cit., p. 385.

162. Innis, op. cit., p. 80.

163. Ibid., pp. 80-81.

164. Hearne, op. cit., p. 115 ff.

165. Mackenzie, op. cit., p. clxxi.

166. Ibid., p. cxxvi.

167. Harmon, op. cit., p. 136.

168. Innis, op. cit., p. 80.

169. Harmon, op. cit., p. 137.

170. Innis, op. cit., p. 80.

171. Harmon, op. cit., p. 139.

172. K. Birket-Smith, Contributions to Chipewyan Ethnology, Report of the Fifth Thule Expedition (Copenhagen, 1930), p. 34.

173. West, op. cit., pp. 165-6.

174. T. Simpson, Narrative of the Discoveries on the North Coast of America (London, 1843), p. 71.

175. M. J. E. A. Gasté, "Father Gasté Meets the Inland Eskimo", (A letter from Father Gasté to his superior, Bishop Grandin, July 15, 1869), Eskimo (Churchill, 1960), Vol. 57, pp. 3-15.

176. LaViolette, op. cit., p. 18.

177. Ibid., p. 19.

178. Ibid., p. 19.

179. Ibid., p. 19.

180. Ibid., p. 19.

181. Ibid., p. 19.

182. Ibid., p. 19.

183. Ibid., p. 20.

184. Ibid., p. 20.

185. Ibid., p. 20.

186. Moore, op. cit., p. 154.

187. LaViolette, op. cit., p. 20.

188. McKeel, op. cit., p. 151 after W. W. Warren, "History of the Ojibways, based upon Traditions and Oral Statements", Minnesota Historical Society Collections (St. Paul, 1885), pp. 190-3.

189. Bushnell, op. cit., pp. 29-30.

190. LaViolette, op. cit., p. 25.

191. Wm. H. Keating, Narrative of an Expedition to the Source of St. Peter's River, Lake Winnepeek, Lake of the Woods, etc., ... Under the Command of Stephen H. Long, Major, U.S.T.E., Vol. II, (Philadelphia, 1824).

192. LaViolette, op. cit., p. 25.

193. Cited by Bushnell, op. cit., 1927, p. 30.

194. Maxmilian, Prince of Wied, op. cit., pp. 147-8.

195. Harmon, op. cit., p. 132.

196. LaViolette, op. cit., p. 25.

197. Ibid., p. 25.

198. Ibid., p. 26.

199. Hewes, op. cit., 1948, p. 5.

200. B. Wettlaufer (compiler) and W. J. Mayer-Oakes (editor), The Long Creek Site, Saskatchewan Museum of Natural History, (Regina, 1960), p. 114.

201. Hewes, op. cit., p. 5.

202. The Peter Ballantyne Band can be located at Southend (Reindeer Lake), Two Rivers, Pelican Narows, Sandy Bay, Beaver Lake and Sturgeon Landing, all in Saskatchewan.

203. John C. Ewers, The Horse in Blackfoot Indian Culture. Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 159, (Washington, 1955), p. 10.

204. Ibid., pp. 172-173.

205. Ewers, op. cit., p. 23.

206. Ibid., p. 8.

207. Mackenzie, op. cit., p. cxi.

208. See footnote 37.

209. M'Gillivray. op. cit., p. 32.

210. Ibid., p. 34.

211. Ibid., p. 37.

212. Ibid., p. 40.

213. Ibid., p. 41.

214. Ibid., p. 44.

215. Ibid., p. 73.

216. Ibid., p. 73.

217. Ibid., pp. 74-75.

218. Harmon, op. cit., p. 99.

219. Ibid., p. 116.

220. Ibid., pp. 119-120.

221. Ibid., pp. 120-121.

222. Ewers, op. cit., p. 174.

223. Hewes, op. cit., p. 7.

224. Mackenzie, op. cit., p. cx.

225. M'Gillivray, op. cit., pp. 37, 40, 74-75.

226. Mackenzie, op. cit., p. cx.

227. T. Michelson, "Preliminary Report on the Linguistic Classification of Algonquin Tribes," Bureau of American Ethnology, Annual Report No. 28, 1906-1907 (Washington, 1911), pp. 221-290.

228. Hewes, op. cit., Figures IA, IB, and II., pp. 10-11.

229. Ibid., Figure IV, p. 11.

230. Ibid., p. 5.

231. Jenness, op. cit., p. 326.

232. Anthony Hendry, York Factory to the Blackfoot Country. The Journal of Anthony Hendry, 1754-55, (Edited by L. J. Burpee), Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, Series 3, Vol. 1, Section 2 (Ottawa, 1907). pp. 307-54.

233. Mathew Cocking, An Adventurer from Hudson Bay. Journal of Mathew Cocking from York Factory to the Blackfeet Country, Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, Series 3 (Ottawa, 1908), Vol. 2, pp. 110-1.

234. Mackenzie, op. cit., p. ciii.

235. Harmon, op. cit., p. 117.

236. E. Umfreville, The Present State of Hudson's Bay, 1790 (London, 1790), n. 197.

237. Mackenzie, op. cit., p. cxi.

238. M'Gillivray, op. cit., p. 62.

239. Ibid., p. 63.

240. Ibid., p. 13.

241. D. Thompson, David Thompson's Narrative of His Explorations in Western America, 1784-1812. Champlain Society, (Toronto, 1916), pp. 239-240.

242. Harmon, op. cit., pp. 51-52.

243. Ibid., pp. 55-56.

244. Ibid., pp. 88-89.

245. Ibid., pp. 106-107.

246. Ibid., p. 120.

247. Hewes, op. cit., pp. 4, 10-11.

248. A. W. Bowers, A History of the Mandan and Hidatsa, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Chicago, (Chicago, 1948), p. 18, cited by Wettlaufer, op. cit., p. 106.

249. Wettlaufer, op. cit., p. 114.

250. Wettlaufer, op. cit., p. 107.

251. O. G. Libby, Introduction to "La Verendrye Journal 1738-1739", North Dakota Historical Quarterly, Vol. 8, No. 4, (Bismarck, 1941), p. 232.

252. Vickers, op. cit., p. 6.

253. M'Gillivray, op. cit., p. 56.

254. Harmon, op. cit., p. 141.

255. Ibid., pp. 141, 142.

256. Ibid., pp. 141, 142.

Page revised: 9 February 2023