The Second Metis uprising
The North West Rebellion was a brief conflict on the Canadian prairies in spring of 1885. But its outcome had a lasting affect on a nation. The man at the centre of uprising - Métis leader Louis Riel - had returned from exile to lead the second uprising in Canadas young history. On March 19, 1885, Riel formed a provisional government and armed force, centred in the small Saskatchewan town of Batoche. The strategy was to gain the Canadian governments attention regarding a list of grievances in the Saskatchewan Valley about land rights and political power. A week later, about 100 North West Mounted Police and volunteers marched towards Batoche, They intended to intimidate Riel and his supporters; about 1,000 Metis and a few hundred white settlers. Most Métis communities on the prairies did not take part in the North West Rebellion. The police met up with approximately 200 Métis south of the town near a village called Duck Lake. A Métis and Cree approached the police waving a white blanket. An armed NWMP interpreter rode out to meet them. The Cree pushed the Mounties rifle away, an action interpreted as an attempt to grab it. Fearing an ambush, the police and volunteers opened fire but were quickly cut down by the Métis and a handful of natives hiding in the bushes. The NWMP were forced to retreat with 10 dead and 13 wounded. Only four Métis and one Indian were killed at Duck Lake. Riel watched the battle on horseback, holding a wooden cross and praying aloud. He hadn’t planned a fight but interpreted the Métis victory as a sign from God that his cause was just. The Battle of Duck Lake was costly for Riel. He lost the support of most of the white settlers who rejected armed conflict. Throughout the prairies, the eruption of violence increased the threat of an Indian uprising. Settlers in Edmonton retreated to an old fort fearing 2,000 armed Cree warriors on the nearby reserves. Lovisa McDougal helped other settlers prepare old guns and...
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