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So much a part of Riels self-image was this sense of being a rejected outsider ("interdit") that arguably it should be reflected in any representation of him that aims for historical and social verisimilitude: to depict him as other than "Other," is, almost paradoxically, to deny him his place in Canadian history and culture.In the years immediately following Confederation, the political situation in Red River (now Winnipeg and what would soon be Manitoba) was extremely uncertain.
Riels poem "La Mtisse," written a short time later, expresses the national pride felt by Riel and the Mtis after this victory: "Je suis mtisse et je suis orgueilleuse / Dappartenir cette nation," proclaims the speaker of the poem, "Je sais que Dieu de sa main gnreuse / Fait chaque peuple avec attention / Les Mtis sont un petit peuple encore / Mais vous pouvez voir dj leurs destins" (Collected Writings 4: 88).
In a convention held on November 16, 1869, Riel called for equal representation for French- and English-speaking inhabitants of the area, and, less than a month later, on December 8, 1869, he produced a proclamation entitled, "Declaration of the People of Ruperts Land and the North-West," drafted a List of Rights, and formed a provisional government for Manitobaa series of initiatives that provoked opposition from members of the Canadian Party, one of whom, Thomas Scott, was brought before a Mtis court-martial for insubordination on March 3, 1870, and executed by firing squad on March 4.
Despite the letter, Mc Dougall decided to push on towards Red River, and was forced to turn back by a Mtis barricade.
In an act of great national importance to the Mtis, Riel assumed control of Fort Garry on November 2, 1869.
In the summer of 1869, the Canadian Government, keen to confirm its sovereignty over the area, sent a surveying crew under John Stoughton Dennis, to measure out the land into square-mile lots based on the Ontario and American system.
This caused resentment among the Mtis of Red River for three reasons: (1) the square-mile system was at odds with the pattern of Mtis strip farming; (2) the Ontario survey team was very antagonistic to the Mtis and spoke only English; and (3) the transfer of power from the HBC to the Dominion of Canada was being handled like a mere land transfer with no considerations given to the inhabitants of the area.In October of 1869, shortly after Riel, recently returned from the East, put a stop to the surveying, a "National Committee of the Mtis of Red River" was established with John Bruce as president and Riel as secretary.One of the first acts of the National Committee was to draft a letter telling William Mc Dougall, who was travelling to Red River to take up his duties as lieutenant-governor at Fort Garry, that he could not enter Ruperts Land without their permission.According to some historians, Scotts trial stands as "a notorious example of culture clash" (Manitoba 125 1: 186); certainly, it was a travesty of justice by European standards: no formal charges were laid, no counsel was provided for Scott, the proceedings were in a language foreign to the accused, no appeal existed, and the execution proceeded with undue haste.On the other hand, the trial was conducted according to Mtis Buffalo Hunt traditionthat is to say, according to rules, and a code of discipline that had allowed the Mtis people to survive on the desolate plains for generations.He was a good orator, and it was alleged that he even charmed the jury with his personality in 1885.Riel was skilled in making people follow him, and was a strong debater. Arguably his fatal blunder, Riel decided to have the Orangeman Thomas Scott tried, and he was found guilty of fighting with the guards, slandering Riel’s name, and defying his provisional government.Riel was raised a devout Catholic, and had considered becoming a priest before, but turned it down.An example of his dedication was the tragic Battle of Batoche, where Riel was convinced it was instrumental to defend.Prior to the arrival of Europeans who came to participate in the fur trade, the Native population in Ruperts Land was primarily made up of Cree, Saulteaux, and Assinniboine.As Grant Mac Ewan wittily observes in Mtis Makers of History (1981), "the Mtis nation, if such it could be called, was born exactly nine months after the first white man arrived" (3).