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Jun 6, 2009

GENEALOGY: The North West Rebellion

This isn't the usual type of photo one has of their relatives. My Great Grand Uncle, Emmanuel Beaugrand dit Champagne was one of Louis Riel's councilors during the North West Rebellion 1885.
(L-R):IgnacePoitras, Pierre Parenteau, Baptiste Parenteau, Pierre Gariepy, Ignace Poitras Jr., Albert Monkman, Pierre Vandal, Baptiste Vandal, Joseph arcand, Maxime Dubois, James Short, Pierre Henry, Baptiste Tourond, Emmanuel Champagne, Kit-a-wa-how (Alex Cagen-ex chief of the Muskeg Lake Indians) Taken Aug 1885, Regina, Saskatchewan by O.B. Buell. Taken from the Canadian National Archives.

The rebellion was a culmination of discontent of the Metis, Aboriginal and White settlers which had gone on for some time.In 1866 the government started the surveying of lands in and around the Red River Settlement. This of course became a source of tension. This was the Metis and Indians land and the government was coming in and drawing lines on it. Louis Riel spoke in August of 1869 to call the Metis to organize themselves against this.

The problems continued for some years with Louis Riel eventually suffering mental exhaustion which in 1876 saw him admitted to a psychiatric hospital in Quebec. He then went to the US where he became an American citizen in 1883.

There were several battles through the years. Duck Lake saw a skirmish between the Metis and the RCMP. Duck Lake was the only clear victory for the Metis. The Frog Lake Massacre saw whites and Metis in the community killed or taken hostage as sympathizers with the Cree led by Big Bear. Fish Creek, Cut Knife Hill, Frenchman's Butte were also unsuccessful for the Metis although the death tolls were thwarted by the ability of the Metis to retreat through the muskeg where the militia could not pursue them.

The Battle of Batoche was the end. For four days- May 9-12, 1885 less than 300 Metis and First Nations people led be a returning Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont sought to defend themselves from the troops.

On the first day the troops sought to attack by coming across the river on a steamer ferry. The Metis simply lowered a ferry cable across the river cutting off the smokestacks of the steamer and it floated downstream without power. They then defended their postitions with gunfire until daybreak. Over the next couple of days the gunfire was returned by the troops with bigger weaponry. The ammunition stores of the Metis were running low by this time.

On May 12 some of the troops attacked from the north drawing the Metis out of their rifle pits signalling to the remaining men to attack from their position. The winds were loud and on the side of the Metis and the remaining troops did not hear the attack signal and failed to attack on time. This was not enough of a setback for the troops however. A third contingent came in from the side and broke through the lines. The battle was over in minutes. The Metis ammunition was gone and they were firing nails and stones from their rifles. Louis Riel escaped with Dumont. Riel gave himself up and was later hanged. Dumont fled to the US.

This is how my Great Grand Uncle, Emmanuel Beaugrande dit Champagne ended up in the photograph above, in handcuffs and leg irons. He is I believe the second man from the right in the front row. He was one of the twelve counselors or exovede (latin: flock) of the Riel government during the North West Rebellion in 1885

Emmanuel and his family were enumerated in the 1850 census of the Minnesota Territory, in which Emmanuel declared that he was a hunter.He was born about 1823 in Pembina, North Dakota and died in Batoche, Saskatchewan September 29, 1904.He was married to Marie Letendre dit Batoche
In the 1854 treaty list of Chippewa Indians of Lake Superior and the Mississippi, he is listed as a mixed blood of the Pembina band who had lived at Saint Joseph (Walhalla, N. D.) for over ten years.

Emmanuel fought for his rights and the rights of the other Metis and it could have cost him his life and his freedom.



2 comments:

Muddy Boot Dreams said...

First of all, a very well written post. It was extememly interesting, especially to me. Figures that they made your poor GGUncle pose when he was in chains, did he go to jail?

I don't remember if I told you, but my Dad's side of the family is Metis. And my Great Great Grandmother and GGG were Cree.

Somewhere in the back of my mind there is a reference to Louis Riel, but I can't remember what it was about. Since my Grandparents have passed away there is no one left to ask anymore.

But I will ask my parents if they remember anything being said....

Jen

Florida Sue said...

Wow Lori, I was just showing Hub your post. We studied Louis Riel in school and learned how the Metis tribe was diminished through the rebellion. We remember learning how the Government just decided to take Metis land because they could. I always believed Riel should have been pardoned. I would be so proud to know that I could trace my background and find a true hero. Lucy it's just so darn cool.

XO Lucy

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