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The Métis in Western Canada: O-Tee-Paym-Soo-Wuk

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Rivalry and Union(1821)/Seven Oaks

Before the amalgamation of the North West Company and The Hudson’s Bay Company in 1821, the rivalry between the two companies led to a short lived but bloody battle (or massacre) in Seven Oaks - a few miles from the HBC's Fort Douglas in the Red River Settlement. This was a time when both companies were experiencing an economic decline and as such sought to extend their territory. Lord Selkrik and his partners bought up most of the shares in the HBC and then requested and received from the crown an extension of the HBC’s territory beyond Rupert’s Land into what is present day southern Manitoba. Selkirk then brought in new settlers into the area which naturally made the Métis in the area feel encroached upon. They also felt that this settlement would be used as a base for the HBC to further penetrate the area. Adding to the tension the Métis were not consulted about the new settlement and the NWC traders encouraged the Métis to view this move as threatening.

The new settlers were not adept at surviving in the new environment and therefore depended on the pemmican supplies and buffalo provided for them by Métis. Not wanting to create a situation of dependence on the Métis and Aboriginals in the area Miles Macdonnell, governor of the colony, issued a proclamation in 1814 against the export of pemmican and he also issued a proclamation forbidding the running of buffalo. Both actions were a blow to the Métis and also helped confirm the new colony was not inclined to recognise their rights in the region. The Métis decided to organise their forces under Cuthbert Grant, the son of a Cree mother and a NWC partner.

In 1815 the NWC’s men somehow convinced Macdonnell to leave the colony, upon his departure Macdonnell was besieged by Métis attackers. His replacement Peter Fidler, a prominent Métis, disbanded the colony but the colonists returned within a few months under new leadership. The new governor, Robert Semple, was insensitive towards the Métis and NWC traders, and as such he reinstated the pemmican ban. In March 1816 he ordered the seizure of Fort Gibraltor, an NWC trading post. A chance meeting at Seven Oaks resulted in the death of twenty colonists as well as Semple himself, the Métis lost only one man. The remaining colonists fled and the entire episode was never entirely resolved until the death of Selkirk and the merger of the two trading companies.

The most noteworthy aspect of the battle was that it was one of the first times the Métis stood up as a nation to fight off the oppression of the HBC.

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Liens Rapides

Rivalry and Union(1821)/Seven Oaks

Free Trade at Red River

Battle of Grand Coteau

Provisional Government (1869-1870)

Manitoba Act and Scrip

Indian Treaties

Post 1886: Rupture and Drift

Political Agitation (1870s and 1880s)

North-West Rebellion (1885 and after)

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