Hiebert on Heritage: The Métis of the Western Plains – SaskToday.ca
The buffalo was central to the Métis way of life, and the Métis lived by the laws of the prairie.
At the outset I must give credit to Irene Ternier Gordon whose wonderful book People on the Move (The Métis of the Western Plains) provides the backdrop for this essay.
Gabriel Dumont was almost as well-known as his leader, Louis Riel. He wasn’t tall and he was built like a barrel, but he was immensely strong. He could pick up a bale of buffalo hides weighing in excess of 400 pounds and push it over the side railing of a Red River cart. He could also ride a horse like a Plains Cree warrior who were known for their great skill and prowess with horses. And Gabriel was an exceptional marksman. He could light a match at 50 paces with his Winchester carbine. After the Resistance, Gabriel Joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in the United States for a time. Americans had never seen a man who could ride and shoot like Gabriel Dumont.
Yes, the Métis were a hardy lot. William Francis Butler, a successful portrait painter, noted that the driver of dog teams, who had the ability to run 50 miles, is a great man. A missionary, Father Belcourt, wrote in the 1850s that the Metis are endowed with uncommon health and strength and that they are capable of enduring the cold and fatigue with the greatest cheerfulness.
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