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946 > Page 946 of Annals of the West : embracing a concise account of principal events which have occurred in the western states and territories, from the discovery of the Mississippi valley to the year eighteen hundred and fifty-six.

946 employment of tiie inhabitants. 1823. of Swiss aud Scotch settlers; most of the former are old soldiers, aB unfit for agricultural pursuits as the half-breeds themselves. The only good colonists are the Scotch, who have brought over with them, as usual, their steady habits, and their indefatigable perseverance. Although the soil about Pembina is very good, and will, when well cultivated, yield a plentiful return, yet, from the character of the population, as well as from the infant state of the colony, it does not at present yield sufficient produce to support the settlers, who, therefore, devote much of their time to hunting; this, which perhaps in the origin was the effect of an imperfect state of agriculture, soon acted as a cause; for experience shows, that men addicted to hunting never can make good farmers. At the time when we arrived at the colony, most of the settlers had gone from home, taking with them their families, horses, &c. They were then chasing the buffalo in the prairies, and had been absent forty-five days without being heard from. The settlement was in the greatest need of provisions ; fortunately for us, who were likewise destitute, they arrived next day. Their return afforded us a view of what was really a novel and interesting spectacle; their march was a triumphant one, and presented a much greater concourse of men, women, and children, than we had expected to meet ou those distant prairies. The procession consisted of one hundred and fifteen carts, each loaded with about eight hundred pounds of the finest buffalo meat; there were three hundred persons, including the women. The number of their horses, some of which were very good, was not under two hundred. Twenty hunters, mounted on their best steeds, rode in abreast; having heard of our arrival, they fired a salute as they passed our camp. These men receive here the name of Gens libres, or Freemen, to distinguish them from the servants of the Hudson's Bay Company, who are called En-gagees. Those that are partly of Indian extraction, are nick-named Bois bride, (Burnt wood,) from their dark complexion. "A swift horse is held by them to be the most valuable property; they are good judges of horses, particularly of racers, with which they may chase the buffalo. Their horses are procured from our southern prairies, or from the internal provinces of New Spain, whence they are stolen by the Indians, and traded or re-stolen throughout the whole distance, until they get into the possession of these men. Their dress is singular, but not deficient in beauty; it is a mixture of the European and Indian habits. AH of them have a blue capote with a hood, which they use only in bad weather; the capote is secured round their waist by a military sash; they