Louis Riel And The Métis Rebellion

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There are few incidents in Canadian history in which the perspectives of the events are changed so drastically over time, then the Métis Rebellion of 1869-70. Louis Riel was once perceived to be a murderer among the average Canadian, and is now argued to be one of the founding fathers of Canada. Historical interpretations of the event, shaped as much by changes in historiographical fashion, as by new information. This event is a prime example that finding truth in history ‘is hard to come by….subject to interpretation and influence by perspective… and both are affected by time and space’ as explained by Friesen1. This essay will demonstrate that it is the issue of land rights and ownership, which create the environment for the Métis to…show more content…
It would be like trying to keep a bird without a cage, for it was because of ‘the Métis love for open space and for the freedom of hunting prevented them from becoming “sensible and steady farmers”7. This change from the hunt to the farm was tough for the Métis. Like the First Nations in the area, they had little need for private land, but like the Europeans they understood the idea of entitlement and private property. They took from their French heritage and created land plots similar to the seigneurial system of New France and the Habitants. In the colony of Red River the land was divided in narrow strips, all starting at the river. Each property would have some river frontage, and the properties did not have any kind of ownership on paper. This lack of paper trail would quickly become a major problem for many years to come as ‘Many of the demands the Métis are advancing today are rooted in the events leading up to the…show more content…
They knew things were changing, so the set up their own national committee where Louis Riel was elected secretary. On Nov. 2 with the newly formed national committee needing a home they took over Fort Gary peacefully, and arrested 50 or so Canadians including Thomas Scott. Riel and the committee National des Métis were attempting to ‘force Canadian government to negotiate with the half-breeds the terms of their entry into confederation’13 Riel also convinced the Country Men (English mixed bloods) to side with the French Métis; they too, were in danger of losing their lands. The committee set up, what has been called a provisional government. Purich argues that the Métis do not believe it was a provisional government, because provisional means they did not intend the government formed in Fort Gary to be permanent. The Métis state that if the negotiation did not go well with Canada, they were not going to join and would keep their own government. This is an extremely important fact to keep in mind when thinking about the way Métis conducted themselves during the winter of 1869-70. This is why it was not a rebellion, and there was no act of treason, because they were exerting their own sovereignty, as stated by Harisson ‘Without question, the land issue was the main concern of the Métis
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