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The Iron Confederacy (Nehiyaw Pwat)

The Iron Confederacy (Nehiyaw Pwat)

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A description of the Iron confederacy or Nehiyaw Pwat made up of Assiniboine (Nakoda and Stoney) as well as the Plains Cree, Saulteaux, Plains Ojibwe, Metis, and some Iroquois people.
A description of the Iron confederacy or Nehiyaw Pwat made up of Assiniboine (Nakoda and Stoney) as well as the Plains Cree, Saulteaux, Plains Ojibwe, Metis, and some Iroquois people.

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Published by: Lawrence J. Barkwell on Sep 20, 2013
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12/22/2013

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The Iron Confederacy, The Nehiyaw Pwat
The major polyethnic and multilingual political and military alliance of Northern PlainsAboriginal nations along both sides of the Medicine Line was known as the IronConfederacy or Nehiyaw-Pwat as it is called in Plains Cree. The Iron Confederacyrevolved around the fur trade particularly with the Hudson Bay Company and includedthe Assiniboine (Nakoda and Stoney) as well as the Plains Cree, Saulteaux, PlainsOjibwe, Metis, and some Iroquois people who had traveled west as employees within thefur trade. Other Indian peoples on the northern plains such as the Gros Ventre beacame part of the confederacy in the 1860s. The Confederacy first rose to predominance on thenorthern Plains during the height of the fur trade when they operated as middlemencontrolling the flow of European goods to other Aboriginal groups. The confederacy became the dominate force on the northern plains and was the major opposition to Indiannations and settlers not associated with it including the Shoshone and Crow further south.By the mid nineteenth century, the Confederacy had lost control of the trade with theMandan, however. From 1790 to 1810 intermittent wars were fought between theConfederacy and its former horse suppliers to the south. As the Confederacy reached outto the Arapaho as a potential new source of horses, they were blocked by the GrosVentres. In 1790 the Gros Ventres joined the Blackfoot Confederacy, making the IronConfederacy and the Blackfoot enemies for the first time. In response the Plains Creeallied with the Flathead or Salish as a new source of horses. By the 1830s, the mixed buffalo-hunting parties of Crees, Chippewa, Assiniboine, and Métis has reached what isnow northern Montana, and the Nehiyaw Pwat were given some limited recognition bythe United Statesgovernment when officials invited Broken Arm also calledMaskepetoon and representatives from the other tribes living near Fort Union to meetPresident Andrew Jackson in Washington D.C.Throughout the 1800s the Chippewa/Saulteaux, Cree, Nakota and Metis buffalo huntersof the Iron Confederacy had been regularly hunting from the big bend of the Souris River down through the Grand Coteau to the Missouri River and as the buffalo diminished,gathering along the border at Cypress Hills then following the herds along the Milk River, Missouri River, and down into the Judith Basin of Montana. These groups wanteda reserve in the Cypress Hills area but the government wanted to move them off the border and up to the Qu’Appelle Valley. Although the treaties had been signed by manygroups their reserve lands had not been selected.The people in this group were associated with the following bands, most of which were polyethnic in composition: Pembina Band, Little Shell Band, Turtle Mountain Band, St.Francois Xavier (Saulteaux Village) Band, Nakawiniuk (Wilkie’s) Band, L’Ous Fou (or Crazy Bear) Band, Canoe Band (Nakoda), Four Claws (Gordon) Band, Nekaneet Band,Carry the Kettle Band, Rocky Boy Band, Montana Band, Muscowequan Band, Beardy’sBand, Petaquakey Band (Muskeg Lake), Dumont Band, Big Bear Band, Red Stone Band,Maski Pitonew Band, Bobtail (Piche) Band, the Moose Mountain group of WhiteBear Band, Striped Blanket Band and Prison Drum Band, and the Crooked Lakes groupof Cowessess Band, Ochapowace Band, Kahkewistahow Band and Sakimay Band.1

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