The Métis flag is the oldest Indigenous flag in the North-West, dating back to 1816 and that the Mechif people were those of mixed European and Indigenous ancestry who were in the west prior to 1870 and had applied for land promised them by the Manitoba Act of 1870 through a scrip system. Prior to 1870, the Mechif were the masters of the prairies. They traded pemmican freely with the Americans, as well as the North West and Hudson Bay Trading Companies. An influx of European settlers tried to force the Mechif to trade exclusively with the Hudson Bay, without avail. Insisting on their independence, the Mechif declared free trade as a right in 1849.