Watch Joseph Boyden, author of Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont, in conversation with Allan Gregg. From YouTube.
Dumont took no direct part in the Red River rising of 1870, though he made an offer - rejected by Louis RIEL - to bring Métis to resist WOLSELEY's expeditionary force. He recognized that great changes were coming to the prairie with the decline of the buffalo and spread of Canadian influence.
In 1873 he became president of the commune of St Laurent, the first local government between Manitoba and the Rockies. Modelled on the organization of the buffalo hunt, the commune tried to establish a system of landholding, since Dumont recognized that when hunting ended, his people would have to turn to farming. In 1875 the commune confronted the newly arrived North-West Mounted Police and the attempt at local government ended; concern over land did not, however, for government surveyors and land speculators began to flood the West and Dumont led the Métis in agitating for recognition of their rights.
When the campaign made no progress, Dumont was one of the delegates who sought Louis Riel's assistance. Negotiations with the government foundered, and when Riel declared a provisional government at Batoche, Dumont became "adjutant general" in charge of the tiny Métis army of 300 men formed at the beginning of the rebellion. During the subsequent NORTH-WEST REBELLION, he was a remarkable guerrilla leader. He won the first battle against the NWMP at DUCK LAKE in March 1885; he halted General MIDDLETON'S army at Fish Creek on Apr 24.
But Riel did not allow Dumont to continue his successful guerrilla campaign, and Batoche was besieged and captured, despite the resistance Dumont organized on May 12. Hearing Riel had surrendered, Dumont fled to the US. He plotted to rescue Riel, but the latter was too carefully guarded; following Riel's execution Dumont joined Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show as a crack marksman.
After the amnesty for rebels, he returned to Canada in 1888 and to Batoche in 1893. He hunted and traded a little, and dictated 2 vivid oral memoirs of the rebellion. He died suddenly of heart failure in 1906. Gabriel Dumont was a man of great chivalry, superbly adapted to the presettlement prairie life; in the world that followed, his skills lost their relevance, and so his qualities of intelligence and personality were ultimately wasted.
Author GEORGE WOODCOCK
Links to Other Sites
Canadian Aboriginal Writing and Arts Challenge
The website for the Canadian Aboriginal Writing and Arts Challenge, which features Canada's largest essay writing competition for Aboriginal youth (ages 14-29) and a companion program for those who prefer to work through painting, drawing and photography. See their guidelines, teacher resources, profiles of winners, and more. From the Historica-Dominion Institute.
This Riel Business
View a documentary short based on "Tales from a Prairie Drifter," a stage comedy about the Northwest Rebellion performed by the Globe Theatre in Regina. From the National Film Board of Canada.
Watch the Heritage Minute about legendary Métis leader Louis Riel from the Historica-Dominion Institute. See also related online learning resources.
A brief overview of the sometimes turbulent history of the Métis community in Western Canada. Part of “The Kids’ Site of Canadian Settlement” from Library and Archives Canada.
The Virtual Museum of Métis History and Culture
This site features a wealth of primary sources about Métis history and culture. Includes oral history interviews, photographs, and various archival documents. Also offers informative learning activities that will immerse students and teachers in Métis traditional life and customs.
Click on the brief profiles of "extraordinary Canadians" and the authors who wrote about them in this Penguin Group (Canada) series. Also includes bios of artists who created the cover art for each book.
Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont
A brief synopsis of Joseph Boyden's book about Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont, from the Penguin Books' series of biographies "Extraordinary Canadians."
Medical Services in the North-West Rebellion of 1885
See a 1949 article about the mobilization of medical support services for troops involved in th 1885 North-West Rebellion. An archived article from the Canadian Medical Association Journal at the website for the US National Library of Medicine.
Shawnadithit grew anxious waiting for her uncle, Longnon, to return to camp at the junction of Badger Brook and the Exploits River, deep in the wilds of Newfoundland...