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Boat Encampment, Sketch Paul Kane, circa 1846, watercolour. Sketch made by Kane on the Columbia River, BC (courtesy Stark Foundation, Orange, Texas). (Photo credit: The Canadian Encyclopedia)

North-West Rebellion: Events

Much took place during the North-West Rebellion. There were skirmishes, battles, and a massacre. For a complete list of events, one should read the University of Saskatchewan‘s North-West Resistance: Chronology of Events. Missing from this list is a battle between Amerindians. It is Gabriel Dumont’s first experience as a “warrior” and, therefore, marginal information.

In 1851, at the young age of 13, Dumont was introduced to plains warfare when he fought at the Battle of Grand Coteau, defending a Métis encampment against a large Dakota war party.

(See Gabriel Dumont, The Canadian Encyclopedia.)

North-West Rebellion

  • maps: please click on the name of each conflict
  • the main “battles”
  1. Battle of Duck Lake 26 March 1885 –Métis victory
    Duck Lake Métis force under Gabriel Dumont engage in an unplanned skirmish with Superintendent L. F. Crozier‘s Mounted Police and volunteers at Duck Lake. The Police are routed. 
  2. Frog Lake Massacre 2  April 1885 –Cree success
    Members of Mistahimaskwa’s (Big Bear) Cree Nation led by Ayimisis (Little Bear) and Kapapamahchakwew (Wandering Spirit) kill Indian Agent Quinn and eight other whites.
  3. Battle of Fish Creek 4 April 1885 –Métis victory
  4. Battle of Fort Pitt 17 April 1885 –Cree victory
    Fort Pitt is taken by warriors of Mistahimaskwa‘s (Big Bear) band. Mistahimaskwa negotiates the evacuation of the fort by the North-West Mounted Police.
    Gabriel Dumont ambushes Middleton‘s column at Fish Creek.
  5. Battle of Cut Knife Hill 2 May 1885 –Cree Assiniboine victory
    Colonel Otter‘s column attacks Pitikwahahnapiwiyin‘s (Poundmaker) camp at Cut Knife Hill.  
    Otter is forced to retreat to Battleford. Pitikwahahnapiwiyin prevents Indians from attacking retreating forces.
  6. Battle of Batoche 9 – 12 May 1885 –Canadian victory
    General Frederick Dobson Middleton decisively defeats the Métis force in a three-day battle
  7. Battle of Frenchman’s Butte (28 May 1885) –Canadian victory
  8. Battle of Loon Lake (3 June 1885) –Canadian victory

(See North-West Resistance: Chronology of Events, University of Saskatchewan.)

Louis Riel: Trial, Conviction and Execution

  • 20 – 31 July 1885
    Riel is tried and convicted of High Treason
  • 16 November 1885 Riel is hanged in Regina, Saskatchewan

List of the Skirmishes, Massacres, and Battles

  1. Battle of Duck Lake
  2. Frog Lake Massacre
  3. Battle of Fish Creek
  4. Battle of Fort Pitt
  5. Battle of Cut Knife
  6. Battle of Batoche
  7. Battle of Frenchman’s Butte
  8. Battle of Loon Lake

(See Battles of the North-West Rebellion, Wikipedia)

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Cree Chief (Poundmaker)
(COURTESY GLENBOW ARCHIVES) (Photo credit: The Canadian Encyclopedia)


Everything that is bad has been laid against me this summer, there is nothing of it true… Had I wanted war, I would not be here now. I should be on the prairie. You did not catch me. I gave myself up. You have got me because I wanted justice. Pîtikwahanapiwiyin (Poundmaker) 

(See Pîtikwahanapiwiyin, Wikipedia.)

Amerindians and the North-West Rebellion

  • Poundmaker
  • Big Bear
  • Etc.

Amerindians (North-American “Indians”) participated in the North-West Rebellion. Pîtikwahanapiwiyin is Poundmaker and Mistahimaskwa, Big Bear (Gros Ours). Pîtikwahanapiwiyn surrendered to General Middleton at Fort Battleford. Mistahimaskwa surrendered at Fort Pitt. Kapapamahchakwew is Wandering Spirit (Esprit Errant).

Sources disagree on whether the Amerindians I have mentioned served a prison sentence or were hanged. I have read that many were hanged.

Gros Ours’ (Big Bear) statement is totally justifiable. As Joseph Boyden noted, all the Métis wanted was title to their land, their rectangular lots abutting a river. This is how Métis and the whites had lived from the time the fur trade began, or from the 17th  century until the 19th century and Confederation (1867), or the purchase of Rupert’s Land from the Hudson’s Bay Company, by the Dominion of Canada in 1869. The Hudson’s Bay Company fought the North West Company until 1821, but the Earl of Selkirk had settled the Red River Colony (1812) in a manner that was acceptable to its inhabitants, diverse as they were.

Moreover, although Amerindians had been conquered, they had been free to roam their land since Jacques Cartier claimed Canada for France, in 1534, until 1763, when Nouvelle France was ceded to England. French settlers had married Amerindian women when the number of European women in Nouvelle-France was much lower than the number of European men. (See King’s Daughters, Wikipedia.) The King’s Daughters, 800 women, arrived between 1663 and 1670. Sixty years are a long time.

The Iroquois often attacked the French settlers. They also tortured and killed missionaries (see Canadian Martyrs, Wikipedia), but other tribes, the Algonquian tribes, the Abenakis especially, were friendly tribes. Many Quebecers have Amerindian ancestry. However, it is difficult for Québécois-es to be recognized as Métis. Métis are the descendants of persons involved in the fur trade.

Pays d’en Haut New France on a map by Jacques Nicholas Bellin in 1755. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


To a certain extent, Confederation was a mixed blessing. It created a Canada that would stretch from coast to coast, which all Canadians enjoy, but Confederation happened at a cost, as did colonialism in general.

  • Amerindians would be sent to Indian Reserves and their children were forced to enter Residential Schools,
  • Métis who had no title to their lots, lost their land and they had no status,
  • the execution of Louis Riel alienated the French-speaking citizens of Québec. Quebec was one of the four provinces that joined Confederation in 1867. They believed they would be able to live and maintain their culture in Quebec and outside Quebec. However, William McDougall and Orangemen were anti-Catholic, anti-French, and racist.

In other words, when provinces joined the Confederation, the Royal Proclamation of 1763 was brushed aside and so was the Quebec Act of 1774. Canada has been officially bilingual since it passed the Official Languages Act of 1969. As for the rights of Métis, they were not recognized until the Constitution Act of 1982, otherwise known as the “patriated” constitution, which Quebec has not signed.

I will not discuss what I would call the “Amerindian question.” It is an extremely complex issue.


I reset my computer successfully. As for my diagnostic, it cannot be established with certainty. Mild cognitive impairment is a symptom of chronic fatigue syndrome or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), which has bedevilled me for decades. In other words, all is well.

Love to everyone


Sources and Resources

Ô Canada! mon pays! mes amours! chant patriotique canadien-français
words by George-Étienne Cartier; music by Jean-Baptiste Labelle
(Cartier’s Canada could be Quebec)


Sir George-Étienne Cartier (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

© Micheline Walker
12 May 2018