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Louis Riel

Riel, Louis (lwē rēĕlˈ) [key], 1844–85, Canadian insurgent, leader of two rebellions, b. Manitoba, of French and Métis parentage. In 1869–70 he led the rebels of the Red River settlements, mainly Métis (people of mixed European–indigenous descent) and indigenous peoples, who felt that their rights were threatened by the transfer (1869) of the Hudson's Bay Company territory to Canada. When the government dispatched (1870) troops to face the rebels, the Red River Rebellion collapsed, and Riel fled the country. In that year, under the Manitoba Act, the Red River settlements were accorded a provincial government. Riel returned to Canada and was elected to the House of Commons, but was expelled (1874) and declared an outlaw (1875). In 1884 he returned to lead a group of indigenous people and Métis who were bent on securing titles to their lands in Saskatchewan. The uprising ended with an engagement (1885) at Batoche. He was captured, tried for treason, and hanged.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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