Historical Document Transcriptions, Excerpts, & Links
G. Mercer Adam, The Canadian North-West: Its History and Its Troubles (Toronto: Rose Publishing Company, 1885), pp. 223-235.

Graeme Mercer Adam was a well-established publisher, editor, and author in Canada.  While he had not witnessed the North-West Rebellion first-hand, he did rush to write and publish one of the first histories of it.  In this selection from his work, Adam conjectures on its major underlying causes. 
See Robert L. McDougall, "Adam, Graeme Mercer," Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online

Questions to Consider
1. What images did Adam develop of Indians, Metis, and white settlers in the North-West? 
2. According to Adam, what were the immediate causes of the "trouble" of the North-West Resistance?  What were the deeper causes of the "trouble" of the North-West Resistance?  To what extent did he assign blame for the "trouble" to particular groups, such as Indians, Metis, white settlers, or government officials, and/or individuals? 
3. To what extent did Adam place the North-West Resistance in a larger context of Canadian national identity?  Did his writing reflect the colonial legacy of French-English tensions?
4. What are the strengths of such a contemporary history of an event written by an individual who had not directly witnessed it?  What are the weaknesses?
Major Boulton, Reminiscences of the North-West Rebellions, with a Record of the Raising of her Majesty's 100th Regiment in Canada, and a Chapter on Canadian Social and Political Life (Toronto: Grip Printing and Publishing Co., 1886), pp. 161-176.

Major Charles A. Boulton was the commander of the so-called "Boulton's Scouts." They dispatched from Fort Qu'Appelle during the North-West Rebellion and saw action against the Metis at Fish Creek and Batoche. Boulton published his reminiscence just one year after the North-West Rebellion while events were still fresh in his memory. Boulton discusses the background to the North-West Rebellion in this selection. 
See Peter Borch, "Boulton's Scouts," The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan,

Questions to Consider
1. According to Boulton, what were the immediate and deeper causes of the North-West Resistance?
2. According to Boulton, what specific roles did disputes over land and land policies play in the North-West Resistance?
3. How would you characterize Boulton's portrayal of Louis Riel?  What were Louis Riel's primary motivations for leading the North-West Resistance?
Canada Department of Indian Affairs, Report of the Department of Indian Affairs for the Year Ended 31st December, 1885 (Ottawa: Department of Indian Affairs, 1886), pp. viiii-xiv & xxxvi-xlv.

While a formal administrative structure for Indian affairs in Canada goes back to the onset of the French and Indian War in North America, the Dominion of Canada took over responsibility of the administration of Indian affairs from the British when it was established in 1867.  The Dominion of Canada government continued the British colonial policies of treaty making and establishing reserves.  Nevertheless, the ultimate goal of the Dominion government's Indian policy during this period was assimilation.  The Department of Indian Affairs, which had the primary responsibility of Indian administration, became a part of the Department of Interior in 1873.  This annual report assesses the role that Indians under its administration played in the North-West Resistance of 1885. 
See Olive Patricia Dickason, Canada's First Nations: A History of Founding Peoples from Earliest Times (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1992), 257-260; and Trent University Archives, Fonds Level Description, Canada: Department of Indian Affairs, "Biography/History," 

Questions to Consider
1. According to this report, why did some Indians of the North-West engage in acts of resistance during the conflict?  Did they have legitimate grievances (according to this report)?
2. How are the Indians who engaged in the North-West Resistance portrayed in this report?  How are the Metis portrayed in this report?
3. Some historians have argued that the Department of Indian Affairs exaggerated the participation of Indians in the North-West Resistance and glossed over their own shortcomings in meeting treaty promises prior to the conflict in order to justify more stringent assimilationist policies after the conflict.  Do you find any evidence in this report to support or refute this historical interpretation?
Theresa Gowanlock and Theresa Delaney, Two Months in the Camp of Big Bear The Life and Adventures of Theresa Gowanlock and Theresa Delaney (Parkdale: Times Office, 1885), pp. 11-12, 17-19, 20-21, & 99-105.

Theresa Gowanlock was the wife of John Gowanlock who operated the sawmill at Frog Lake.  Theresa Delaney was the wife of John Delaney who provided agricultural instruction to the Plains Cree at Frog Lake.  Both of their husbands would be killed along with seven others by militant members of Big Bear's band of Plains Cree.  Theresa Gowanlock and Theresa Delaney would subsequently be taken captive by the Cree.  The following selections from their captivity narratives largely focus on their experiences and relations with the Crees and their perceptions of them prior to the incident. 
For additional information regarding the "Frog Lake Massacre," see John Chaput, "Frog Lake Massacre," The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan,

Questions to Consider
1. How would you describe Gowanlock and Delaney's relations with and perceptions of the Crees prior to the conflict?  To what extent and in what ways were their pre-contact relations and perceptions relevant to their experiences during the conflict?  To what extent and in what ways might have their experiences during the conflict influenced their recounting of their pre-conflict relations and perceptions of the Crees?
2. Did the Crees have any legitimate grievances?
3. How would you characterize their perceptions of and relations with the Metis during the conflict?
Charles Pelham Mulvaney, The History of the North-West Rebellion (Toronto: A. H. Hovey & Co., 1885), pp. 20-28 & 50-58.

Charles Pelham Mulvaney worked as a soldier, college lecturer, minister, and finally writer over the course of his lifetime.  The History of the North-West Rebellion was written on the heels of the event itself. Mulvaney did not participate in the actual events and wrote about them from a distance.  His work included an examination of its causes.
See Gerald Killan, "Mulvany, Charles Pelham," Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online

Questions to Consider
1. What did the Metis demand prior to the North-West Resistance?  According to Mulvaney, were these demands reasonable?  Why or why not?
2. What does the following quote from the text reveal about Mulvaney's perspective and biases?  "To grant this would have been to repeat the lamentable error by which England at the Conquest perpetuated the French language, law, and religion, and established an island of mediaevalism and of alien race in the midst of the spread of English Canadian civilization."
3. How do Mulvaney's evaluations of Indian policy prior to the conflict compare with those of other authors?  To what extent is Mulvaney more empathetic regarding the Crees?
The Canadian Pictorial and Illustrated War News. Toronto: Grip Printing and Publishing Company, 1885.  Available at external link: The Virtual Museum of Metis History and Culture

Illustrated news publications were quite popular in the nineteenth century.  The illustrations in this publication were based on reports of events rather than eyewitness sketches by artists.  The artist may have taken some liberties in depicting the scenes of the conflict. 
For additional information, see the introduction to the collection at The Virtual Museum of Metis History and Culture website.

Questions to Consider
1. Using specific and representative examples, discuss the predominant images conveyed through these illustrations of the
a) Indians
b) the Metis
c) the Canadian soldiers.
2. How do these images compare with those of the Zulus and British soldiers and those of the Lakotas and U.S. soldiers discussed in chapter seven of James O. Gump, The Dust Rose Like Smoke: The Subjugation of the Zulu and the Sioux (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1994), pp. 115-134?
3. To what extent do you think these images reflected the popular images of these groups amongst the "Canadian public?"  To what extent do you think these images shaped the popular images of these groups amongst the "Canadian public?" 
Trials in Connection with the North-West Rebellion, 1885 (Ottawa: Maclean, Roger & Co., 1886), pp. 172-337.

The excerpt includes the complete trial transcripts for the trials of Cree Chiefs Big Bear and Poundmaker for their alleged roles in the North-West Resistance.  Big Bear had a history of resistance to Dominion Indian policy, which some historians have argued made him a target of the government in the wake of the North-West Resistance.  He did not sign Treaty Number Six in 1876, and he rallied some of the most resistant to his leadership in the wake of it.  He resisted the Treaty until 1882.  Even after he finally signed the Treaty, he continued to contest government policies and tried to organize a united Indian diplomatic front to press their interests on the government.  While he did not advocate military resistance, his most militant warriors effectively overtook his leadership during the events of 1885.  Nevertheless, Big Bear was arrested following the North-West Resistance and brought to trial.  Despite clear evidence that Big Bear worked to prevent fighting and protect white captives during the conflict, he was convicted of "treason-felony" and sentenced to three years imprisonment.  Due to his rapid physical decline in prison, he was was released early in 1887, but he died less than a year after his release in 1888.  Poundmaker, like Big Bear, had been critical of Dominion Indian policy prior to the North-West Resistance.  Having agreed to Treaty Number Six, Poundmaker was particularly critical of what he considered to be broken treaty promises by the Dominion government.  Suffering from a lack of provisions, his band would seize goods at Battleford during the North-West Resistance.  They would be confronted by Lieutenant-Colonel William Otter's troops at Cut Knife Creek and a battle would ensue; however, Poundmaker worked to restrain his warriors as Otter's troops withdrew. Furthermore, Poundmaker would seek out government officials and disarm his band voluntarily.  Still, he was arrested and put on trial for "treason-felony."  He was convicted and sentenced to three years imprisonment.  He would serve nearly one year before being released, but he died within a month of his release.
For excellent online biographical information for Big Bear and Poundmaker, see
Rudy Wiebe, "Mistahimaskwa," Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online;
Frits Pannekoek, "Big Bear," The Canadian Encyclopedia;
Christian Thompson, "Big Bear," The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan;
Hugh A. Dempsey, "Poundmaker," The Canadian Encyclopedia
Christian Thompson, "Poundmaker," The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan

Questions to Consider      
1. Was a fair and just verdict and sentence meted out in these two trials?  Why or why not?
2. Imagine yourself to be the defense attorney for Big Bear or Poundmaker.  Based on a thorough reading of the trial transcript and any additional background information from your readings of the other sources, outline your own closing arguments in Big Bear or Poundmaker's defense. 
3. Imagine yourself to be the prosecuting attorney in one of these cases.  Based on a thorough reading of the trial transcript and and any additional background information from your readings of the other sources, outline your own closing arguments for the prosecution of Big Bear or Poundmaker.
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