Louis Riel Essay

1074 words - 4 pages

There were many occasions in history wherein the French and English Canadians have clashed but the first major historical event to tear the relationship into pieces was the Northwest Rebellion. The French Canadians regarded the Northwest Rebellion a noble cause and Louis Riel a hero who stood up to protect the rights of the French-speaking Métis. The English saw the rebellion as a threat to Canada's sovereignty and Riel as a traitor.

Louis Riel had taken up residence in the United States after the Red River Rebellion. A delegation traveled to Montana to enlist Riel's help once again to stop the Canadian government from encroaching on Métis land. Riel returned to Canada with the delegation and drew up a petition of grievances that had the support of both English and French speaking Métis as well as the immigrant settlers of the area. The petition was sent to the federal government calling for improved political representation, modification of the homesteading laws, and a land grant for the Métis among the seventeen items called for. Riel and his followers believed themselves to not being taken seriously by the Canadian government so he set up the first provisional government in the Northwest. Riel's earlier religious training was affecting his way of looking at his situation and he began fighting against the church and calling for war against the Canadian government. He proclaimed himself, "Prophet of the New World" and claimed his authority came directly from God (Stanley 302). Riel's provisional government was beginning to lose its original support and even the French-speaking Métis began to question his intentions. He hurriedly restored the unity with the treason trial of Charles Nolin and two other Métis. Nolin was found guilty and sentenced to death but Riel had the sentence commuted providing Nolin agreed to support his provisional government. Nolin agreed and support once again began building for Riel.

The Battle of Duck Lake put Riel on a definite collision course against the Canadian government. His turn to violence severed his unities with English-speaking population. They had wanted to keep agitation within legal limits and Riel had gone against their wishes. Tempers were flaring on both sides of the issue and the surrounding Indian bands were becoming excited and agreed to back Riel and his followers against the Canadian army. The Canadian government responded quickly to the violence. They sent men on trains that took days instead of weeks to arrive in to the Northwest area. General Middleton was the man commanding the Canadian Militia. His men fought to a standoff against Riel and his men at Fish Creek. Riel at this point was rumored to have been praying with the women and children of his community during this battle and the Indians believed it was his prayers that helped them get through the ordeal. Finally, at the battle of Batoche, the Canadian army defeated Louis Riel and...

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