Canadian History. The NorthWest Rebellion of 1885

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The North-West Rebellion of 1885 was a brief and violent revolt fought mainly by the Metis under Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont’s leadership along with their Aboriginal allies against the Canadian government, which was caused by the discontentment among the Metis and Indian people with the Federal government. During the 1870s and 1880s, western Canada was in the midst of a great social change and these changes included and caused:unsettled issues regarding land claims, waves of immigrants flooded the prairies, the depletion of the buffalo herds, treaties were signed with the Indians and the Canadian Pacific Railway was built. These changes were some of the major causes for the North-West Rebellion, however it was sparked by the Canadian government’s continuous indifference and denial to the frustrations and pleas of the Metis for political reforms and desire for equality. Thus, as a desperate reaction, the Metis along with their aboriginal allies rose up in an armed rebellion against the government to assert their rights, culture, and nationality.

The concerns of the Metis prior to the Red River Rebellion, which had ostensibly won all of its major objectives, had still not been addressed. The Metis were agitated because the issues regarding the land claims and settlement had still not been settled; the land scrips they acquired from the government was not only difficult to obtain but it also brought many problems to them. They were often threatened by the Manitoban government if they refused to turn over their scrips to the land speculators, who have bought up almost all the scrips from their holders for far cheaper that the scrip was actually worth. The Metis were also upset because they had to wait for their assigned lots while white settlers newly arrived were allowed to settle anywhere. Furthermore, the government had still not given them the legal papers for their entitlement to the land they settled in. As land surveyors came to their land, laying out grid patterns in advance of railway expansion and land development without any regard to their strip lots, the Metis feared that they were being driven out their land again which, now that the wildlife was disappearing, most especially the buffalo due to the Canadian Pacific Railway construction, was their primary source of sustenance. Hence, the  government made it very difficult and almost impossible for the Metis to obtain the scrip and the legal papers for their land because  the prairies had already been surveyed for sale to European immigrant farmers coming to Canada, which they hoped would earn them about $71 million, more than enough money to build the Canadian Pacific Railway. Therefore, being at such a great disadvantaged in Manitoba,  the Metis were forced to moved to the Northwest, where they attempted to recreate the culture they enjoyed in the Red River. In the Northwest, the Metis continued to voice out their concerns to the  government, however their voices remained unheard.

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Many of the Metis who moved to the Northwest  found that the regional aboriginal tribes were in an even worse situation than they were. Most tribes were forced into signing a treaty with the government because they felt that they had no other choice other than signing the treaty. The government officials who approached the Natives to negotiate and persuade them to sign, were often accompanied with armed men which they used as a form of intimidation towards the Natives. It was also made very obvious that there was very little to no room for negotiation. Thus, many aboriginal tribes ...

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