Laws of the Prairies
The laws incorporated during the Métis buffalo hunt formed The Laws of the Prairies and each captain received a copy of these laws. Whenever an important matter arose, it was solved by mutual agreement of the whole camp. The authority of the captains and soldiers was in effect only during that particular hunt.
Each member of the family had an important role to play. The role of the wives during the hunt was as significant as that of their husbands, the hunters. After the hunt, the wives and children were responsible for butchering the buffalo. The hide was stretched, dried and then softened until it was in the form of a strong, heavy material similar to leather. Once prepared, the hides were used for clothing, moccasins, tents and bags used for storage, etc. The meat was cut up for easy transport. Most of the buffalo meat was made into pemmican and dry meat.
Young Métis women learned at a very early age how to clean and tan hides, prepare meat for winter storage, how to make snowshoes and baskets. The elderly women also taught how to cook and make clothing for the family.
Buffalo meat fed Métis families, white colonists and fur traders. The Métis did a brisk business in supplying first the North West Company and after 1821 the Hudson's Bay Company with dried buffalo meat and pemmican.
Back to the Facts Page