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Riel Rebellion — Rébellion du Nord-Ouest

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"God, who has always led you [Louis Riel] and assisted you until the present hour, will not abandon you in the dark hours of your life, for He has given you a mission which you must fulfill entirely."
                                    Bishop Ignace Bourget of Montreal, letter to Riel, 14 July 1875

"Our mission is to plant the rule
Of Britain's freedom here,
Restrain the lawless savage, and
Protect the pioneer.
And 'tis a proud and daring trust
To hold these vast domains,
With but three hundred men,
The Riders of the Plains."

      "The Riders of the Plains," 1878

"The North West Mounted were created not to save the white man from the wild Indians but to save the Indians from the wild white man."
                                                                                          Pierre Berton, 1982

"The Police . . . put an end to the traffic in fire water. I can sleep now safely. Before the arrival of the Police, when I laid my head down at night, every sound frightened me; my sleep was broken; now I can sleep sound and I am not afraid."
                                                                          Button Chief, Treaty No. 7, 1877




North-West Mounted Police, Fort Calgary. LAC, C-008200, 1878



 




















Buffalo bones gathered from the Prairies, Library and Archives Canada / PA-066544







"On arriving there I found about 1300 Indians in a very destitute condition, and many on the verge of starvation. Young men who were known to be stout and hearty fellows some months ago were quite emaciated and so weak they could hardly work ; the old people and widows, who with their children live on the charity of the younger and more prosperous, had nothing, and many a pitiable tale was told of the misery they had endured."
                                               Lt. Gov. Edgar Dewdney, Blackfoot Crossing, July 1879




Crowfoot addressing the Marquis of Lorne; pow-wow at Blackfoot Crossing, Bow River, September 10, 1881. LAC Acc. No. 1984-45-213, Sydney Prior Hall, 10 September 1881 [Crowfoot holding a cup to show how much flour was doled out to each of his people,  Marquis of Lorne seated on a chair, Edgar Dewdney the bearded figure with a straw hat seated slightly Lorne to his right.]




Crowfoot Addressing the Marquis of Lorne: Pow-wow at Blackfoot Crossing, on September 10, 1881. Crowfoot s'addressant au marquis de Lorne lors d'une assemblée d'Indiens à Blackfoot Crossing, en Alberta, le 10 septembre 1881. LAC Acc. No. Acc. No. 1984-45-269, Sydney Prior Hall, 1887 [Crowfoot is standing heroically with right arm raised.]




Surveys and Mapping Branch, Ottawa, 1969










"Was it not by armed rebellion, coupled with murder, that Manitoba attained the rights she enjoys today from the very men who now hold the reins of power at Ottawa? If history is to be taken as a guide, what could be plainer than that without rebellion the people of the Northwest need expect nothing, while with rebellion, successful or otherwise, they may reasonably expect to get their rights."
                                                  Frank Oliver, Edmonton Bulletin , 22 February 1884

"The cause of the discontent [in 1885] is no secret to any person living in the North-West. Promises made when the Indians were strong and the whites weak are not carried out now that the whites have become strong and the Indians weak."
                                                       Frank Oliver, Edmonton Bulletin, 14 June 1884

"They [the Indians] are our kin and when they starve they come to us for help, and we have to feed them. This Government does not treat them properly."
                                                 Gabriel Dumont to Amadée Forget, 6 September 1884




Lt. Gov. Dewdney and his wife at Government House in Regina. LAC PA-118778, Oliver Buell, 1885




Poundmaker and his 4th wife, 1884, LAC PA-066596



"He [Poundmaker] possesses the audacious courage, the noble bearing, the handsome face, athletic figure, and general manliness of the Blackfoot; the industry, shrewdness and skill in the chase of the Assiniboine or Stoney; the caution, cunning and dogged determination of the Cree."
                                                                             Ernest J. Chambers, 1961




Mistahi maskwa (Big Bear ca. 1825-1888), a Plains Cree chief, trading. LAC, PA-118768, Oliver Buell 1884




Gabriel Dumont (1837-1906), Military Commander of the Métis during the North West Rebellion of 1885. Strong/Library and Archives Canada/PA-178147








St. Peter’s, Montana.







Petition of Rights
To His Excellency the Governor General of Canada, in Council
We, the undersigned, your humble petitioners, would respectfully submit to Your Excellency in Council, the following as our grievances:

1. that the Indians are so reduced that the settlers in many localities are compelled to furnish them with food, partly to prevent them from dying at their door, partly to preserve the peace of the Territory;
2. that the Half-breeds of the Territory have not received 240 acres of land, each, as did the Manitoba Half- breeds;
3. that the Half-breeds who are in possession of tracts of land have not received patents therefore;
4. that the old settlers of the N.W.T. have not received the same treatment as the old setters of Manitoba;
5. that the claims of settlers on odd numbers, prior to survey, and on reserves, prior to the proclamation of such reserves, are not recognized;
6. that settlers on cancelled claims are limited to eighty acres Homestead and eight acres of pre-emption;
7. that settlers are charged more than one dollar per acre for their preemptions;
8. that settlers are charged dues on timber, rails and firewood required for home use; …
17(h) that the N.W.T. although having a population of 60,000, are not yet granted responsible government, as was Manitoba, when she had less than 12,000 of a population;
17(i) that the N.W.T. and its Premier Province are not yet represented in the Cabinet, as are the Eastern Province,
17(j) that the North West is not allowed the administration of its resources as are the eastern Provinces and British Columbia . . .
Your humble petitioners are of opinion that the shortest and most effectual methods of remedying these grievances would be to grant the N.W.T. responsible government with control of its own resources and just representation in the Federal Parliament and Cabinet.
Wherefore your petitioners humbly pray that your excellency in Council would be pleased to cause the introduction, at the coming session of Parliament, for a measure providing for the complete organization of the District of Saskatchewan as a province, and that they be allowed as in/70, to send Delegates to Ottawa with their Bill of rights; whereby an understanding may be arrived at as to their entry into confederation, with the constitution of a free province . . .

From Louis Riel’s Petition of Rights, Canada, Department of Interior, Dominion Lands Branch, 18 December 1885, File No. 83808.







"The time has now come to rule this country or perish in the attempt."
                                                                    Louis Riel, 18 March 1885
















































Mistahi maskwa (Big Bear ca. 1825-1888), a Plains Cree chief, Regina, 1885, O.B. Buell / Library and Archives Canada / C-001873



"At last [Frog Lake, 2 April 1885] the Indian department's patronage and penny pinching had blown the bitterness of Indian resentment into a flame that only blood would quench."
                                                                                      James G. MacGregor
















Major-General Middleton, C.B., Adjutant-General Walker Powell, and various commanding officers of the North-West Field Force, By Wm. B., Lithographed by Toronto Lithographing Co., LAC C-005550






Fort Pitt from the hillside to the northest, Sask. LAC, PA-050808, J. B. Tyrrell, 1886




Fort Pitt 1984















"They [the Metis] never attacked a convoy . . . they never harassed us on the march . . . it would seem as if they intended only to defend their homes against invasion. At Fish Creek they met us on their frontier, at Batoche they fought us on their own doorstep."
                                                                                               Viscount Melgund








Fish Creek




Battle of Fish Creek, Library and Archives Canada, C-002425




The Capture of Batoche, Library and Archives Canada, C-002424








Battle of Batoche, 1885, Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1972-26-774, C-073636












Cut Knife Hill 2 May 1885, LAC C002426k




Action at Cut-Knife Creek. De l'activité à Cut-Knife Creek. LAC, Acc. No. R9266-398 Peter Winkworth Collection of Canadiana, 2 May 1885




Poundmaker, also known as The Drummer, (ca. 1842-1886), a Cree chief, later adopted by Crowfoot of the Blackfoot Nation, 1885, O.B. Buell/Library and Archives Canada/C-001875




Cut Knife Hill 1 May 1986







"Lord Wolseley left Toronto on the 21st of May, 1870, and arrived at Fort Garry on the 24th of August, three months. In 1885 the last troops ordered out left Montreal for the front on the 11th of May, and arrived at Winnipeg on the 20th of May, nine days. So much has fifteen years of civilization and a railway done for Canada."
                                                                                               Viscount Melgund














Red Deer Creek 1984
















The Surrender of Poundmaker to Major-General Middleton at Battleford, Saskatchewan, on May 26, 1885. Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1991-274-2, C-002769




Key to The Surrender of Poundmaker. Numbered key, drawn in pen and ink, to accompany the painting "The Surrender of Poundmaker to Major General Middleton at Battleford, on May 26th, 1885". Consists of a pen and ink drawing, showing the outlines of the figures in the scene, who are numbered. Drawing is mounted on paper with the handwritten Key to the image, which indicates the names of the 28 persons represented.  Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1991-274-1



"Everything I could do was to prevent bloodshed. Had I wanted war, I would not be here but on the prairie. You did not catch me. I gave myself up. You have me because I wanted peace."
                                                              Chief Poundmaker,  August 1885




Troops on their return to Toronto 1885















"In this trial of Native by White, it was East against West . . . Ontario against Quebec, Orange against Catholic, Anglo-Szxon against French, Conservative against Liberal. The entire nation was represented and intensely interested."
                                                                                          A. H. Trémaudan




1885, Louis Riel addressing the jury during his trial for treason, O.B. Buell, Library and Archives Canada, 1966-094, C-001879









"If there had been no rebellion, if there had been no resistance, is there anyone of you that can place his hand on his conscience and honestly say that the evils under which this country has complained would have been remedied?"
                                                           Charles Fitzpatrick, address to the jury, 1885



"We often remarked that we would like to have the Minister of the Interior in the prisoner's box charged with inciting the Metis by gross neglect and indifference."
                                                                          Edwin Brooks, jury member, 1925



"Riel was fairly tried, honestly convicted, laudably condemned, and justly executed."
                                                      Winnipeg Free Press, 17 December 1885

 

"The trial was a sham, and was indeed not in accordance with present judicial practice . . .  it was more a political than a judicial trial."
                                                                                                     Bill Yurko




1885,  The jury of six at Louis Riel's trial. O.B. Buell / Library and Archives Canada, PA-118759
























Poundmaker, Big Bear, Big Bear's son, Father Andre, Father Conchin, Chief Stewart, Capt. Deane, Mr. Robertson, and the Court Interpreter, Regina, 1885, O.B. Buell/Library and Archives Canada/C-001872























"The execution of political prisoners is, as all true statesmen have taught us, worse than a blunder . . . a leader who embodies the hopes and convictions of thousands becomes almost a sacred person, and the hangman's touch revolts the feelings of his followers as sacrilege does the feelings of the religious."
                                                                              London, Pall Mall Gazette, 1885

 

"At the moment when the corpse of Riel falls through the trap and twists in convulsions of agony, at that moment an abyss will be dug that will separate Quebec from English-speaking Canada, especially Ontario."
                                                                                        Israel Tarte, 1885








Marguerite Monet Riel, 1885? C-154698








2014











"Had there been no neglect there would have been no rebellion. If no rebellion, then no arrest. If no arrest, no trial. If no trial, no condemnation. If no condemnation, then no execution. They therefore who are responsible for the first are responsible for every link in that fatal chain."
                                                                                              Edward Blake, 1885




Library and Archives Canada, C-018084
Louis Riel, Metis Leader, Executed on November 16, 1885, Political Martyr! Guilty of having loved his oppressed countrymen, Victim of Orange fanaticism to which the politicians sacrificed him without soul and without heart. Let true patriots remember him!! [tr.]








Miserable man surrendering., Six Cree men were tried and sentenced to death for their roles in the Frog Lake Massacre: Miserable Man (Kitahwahken), Bad Arrow (Manchoose), Iron Body (Nahpase), Little Bear (Apischaskoos), Walking the Sky (Pahpahmekeesick), and Wandering Spirit. They, and two Cree men condemned for a murder committed on March 29, 1885 just before the Siege of Battleford were hanged on November 27, 1885, at Fort Battleford, in the largest mass execution in Canadian history. Battleford, LAC, C-004864. James Peters, 1885




Grave of 8 First Nations men, Battleford, 1984








Burning Sir John A. Macdonald in effigy in Montreal








Left: Wilfrid Laurier, William James Topley / Library and Archives Canada / C-001967
Right: Toronto World, Metropolitan Toronto Public Library

"Had I been born on the banks of the Saskatchewan, I would myself have shouldered a musket to fight against this neglect of government and the shameless greed of speculators."
Wilfrid Laurier, speech, Montreal, 22 Nov. 1885















"The march of civilization in the North West then began (1869-70), and today, instead of being a vast hunting ground and wilderness, it is the home of thousands of thrifty settlers, and with its great transcontinental railway from ocean to ocean, placed Canada in the proud position of being one of the brightest jewels of the British Crown."
                                                            Alexander Begg, A History of the North-West

 

"The métis were only doing what men should do; they were merely standing up for their rights."
                                                                                                 E. B. Osler, 1961

 

"[Riel] asserted the rights of westerners to enter the Canadian federation on their own terms, terms that would safeguard their interests; and he asserted them eloquently and persuasively."
                                                                                   George F. G. Stanley, 1965

 

"The Riel Rebellion was . . . the typical, even inevitable result of the advance of the frontier – the last organized attempts on the part of Canada's primitive peoples to withstand  . . . progress, and to preserve their culture and their identity against the encroachments of civilization."
                                                                                   George F. G. Stanley, 1965

 

"The tragedy of Riel's life and of his death are that they accomplished virtually nothing for the Métis people because they were grounded in violence."
                                                                                Morris Shumiatcher, 1968

 

"Louis Riel had at his command no effective means by lawful methods to persuade the government of Canada to respect the rights and wishes of his Métis people. No representative or democratic government existed in the North-West Territories in his time. Herein lies the only possible justification for his outrageous acts of violence."
                                                                                      Morris Shumiatcher, 1968

 

"Eighty-three years ago in the Mounted Police barracks in Regina, Louis Riel awaited execution as a convicted traitor. This afternoon we are assembled to unveil a monument in his honor. No man in Canadian history suffered as many reversals of fortune during his life. He was, in turn, unofficial leader of his people, president of a provisional government, founder of the province of Manitoba, fugitive in exile, member of Parliament, outlaw, leader of another provisional government, and prisoner. Yet it may be that none of the twists and turns in his tragic biography will be as important to the history of this country as the reversal of official and public opinion which this monument symbolizes."
                                                                     Pierre Elliot Trudeau, 2 October 1868

 

"Riel and his followers were protesting against the Government's indifference to their problems and its refusal to consult them in matters of their vital interest. Questions of minority rights have deep roots in our history. It is all too easy, should disturbances erupt, to crush them in the name of law and order. We must never forget that in the long run, a democracy is judged by the way the majority treats the minority. Louis Riel's battle is not yet won."
                                                                    Pierre Elliot Trudeau, 2 October 1968
                                                     Spoken at the unveiling of a statue to Louis Riel

 

"We know all about Gettysburg and nothing about Batoche, which was the turning point in Canadian history."
                                                               Rudy Wiebe, Maclean's, 4 September 1978

 

"Riel might be a hero and a leader to the Métis, but he has no credentials as a hero to all Canadians, and no school should teach his life that way."
                                                   J. L. Granatstein, Who Killed Canadian History, 1998



"Trends towards freedom, democracy, and justice, trends against colonialism, racism and cruelty – they are symbolized by Louis Riel and the movement he led."
                                                         John Conway, The Peak, Burnaby, 10 July 1968




Presentation of an address to Chief Crowfoot and other Indian Chiefs by the City of Ottawa. Front row: (left to right) - W.P. Lett; His Worship Mayor McDougal; One Spot, sub-chief of the Bloods; Three Bulls, half-brother of Crowfoot; Chief Crowfoot; Red Cloud, Chief of the Bloods, North Axe, Chief of the Piegans; Rev. Father Lacombe, Ald. F.R.E. Campeau. LAC, PA-066624, 1886




Blackfeet at Earnscliffe, "Front row", left to right: North Axe, Peigan Chief, One Spot, Blood sub-chief. "Middle row", left to right: Three Bulls, half brother of Crowfoot, Crowfoot, Blackfoot Chief, Red Cloud, Blood Chief. "Back row", left to right: Father Lacombe, John L'Heureux, interpreter, LAC, PA-045666, 1886




















The Battalion of Hangmen: Remember the Traitors! 1887, LAC C-54882








Small sized lapel button showing a portrait of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, 1896. Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. R1300-1012




























John Nugent, Saskatchewan Legislative grounds, 1968-1991

"The artist .. . chose to present the memory of Riel as an incredibly strong, intense and spiritual person who was reaching to grasp the future for his people."
Rand E. Teed, The Leader Post, Regina, 16 August 1991

"The statue depicts Riel clad in a simple, but revealing, cloak, his head and right hand thrust heavenward in a final set of defiance before his people's surrender to the troops of General Middleton at Batoche."
David Roberts, The Globe and Mail, Toronto, 8 August 1991

"We [the Metis] find it offensive because of the way Louis Riel is depicted. He's a grotesque man with no pants on and his testacles are hanging down. Can you imagine the controversy if John Diefenbaker was portrayed with no pants – or John A. Macdonald."
Jim Durocher, president of the Metis Society of Saskatchewan, The Globe and Mail , 8 August 1991

"The statue [of Riel] is graceful and portraying an idealist with dignity."
Muriel K. Griffin, The Leader Post, Regina, 9 September 1991

"I thought if I put anything else on him [other than a robe] I would date the man. I became very interested in Riel not just as an historical figure, but as a contemporary man with as much importance for the future as the past."
John Nugent, sculptor, The Leader Post, Regina, 2 October 1968




Marcien Lemay and Étienne Gaboury, Legislative Assembly of Manitoba grounds, 1971-1995





Réal Bernard, St. Boniface Museum, late 1980s




Miguel Joyal, Manitoba Legislative Buildings, 1995




The Invitation' is the latest sculpture along Highway 11 dedicated to Métis history in Saskatchewan. (Don Wilkins, 2015)



"We know all about Gettysburg and nothing about Batoche, which was the turning point in Canadian history."
                                                                              Rudy Wiebe, 1978




Everett Soop Akwasasne Notes June 1970


"A large force was being sent to crush a few people who had been wronged and practically goaded into rebellion."
                                                                                  George T. Denison, 1900

"The frontier was melting away before the onslaught of steel."
                                                                         Pierre Berton

"For years Macdonald's government had dragged its feet about coping with the grievances, but it was impressively prompt about crushing rebellion."
                                                                                    Desmond Morton, 1974

"As long as there is a Canada, its citizens will want to read about Louis Riel because his life summarizes in a unique way the tensions of being Canadian: English vs. French, native vs. white, East vs. West, Canadian vs. American."
                                                                               Thomas Flanagan, 1985