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Completing the Design, The Northwest Rebellion (1885)

battle of Batoche, Northwest Rebellion, Poundmaker, Louis Riel, Cree nation

A second Metis rising, the Northwest Rebellion, flared up in 1885, not in Manitoba but among newer Metis settlements in the Saskatchewan valley farther west. Settlement was moving west from Manitoba and catching up with the Metis who had moved there; once again they feared being overrun and dispossessed. They summoned Louis Riel back from exile to help defend their interests. Riel, driven by dreams of founding a French-speaking, Catholic religious empire, led Metis fighters in a brief war against Canadian authority. His general, veteran bison hunter Gabriel Dumont, defeated the Mounties at Duck Lake and drove them from Fort Carleton.

Like the Metis, the Cree and other Plains indigenous nations were struggling with poverty, loss of independence, and the loss of the great bison herds. Indigenous leaders, notably Pitikwahanapiwiyan (or Poundmaker) of the Cree and Isapo-muxika (or Crowfoot) of the Blackfoot, foresaw the result of armed conflict and sought to avoid it. However, a few renegades of the Cree nation joined in the rebellion, attacking settlers and Canadian forces.

Canada rushed troops westward on the new railroad, and the Metis were overwhelmed at the battle of Batoche, May 12, 1885. Riel was tried for treason. He rejected an insanity defense and was hanged in November 1885. The Metis defense of their communityís rights in the West elicited the sympathy of many people in Quebec, and Rielís execution spurred French Canadian resentment against English Canadian dominance in the Confederation.

Article key phrases:

battle of Batoche, Northwest Rebellion, Poundmaker, Louis Riel, Cree nation, insanity defense, Mounties, new railroad, Duck Lake, Crowfoot, Canadian forces, renegades, Blackfoot, Confederation, Metis, settlers, exile, rebellion, troops, sympathy, Manitoba, poverty, dreams, Quebec, French, Canada, West, interests, people


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