Nations at War continues with the story of Metis and the Highland Scotts. The first half of the episode starts in Canada and it is 1885. Canada is expanding and the people are looking west to move. These people want to find a better life in the west. These people run into the Metis people and the Metis are not going to back down when challenged.
In 1867, the British Empire had only four colonies in Canada. Less than 20 years later, Canada tripled in size through land purchases from the Hudson Bay Company. The first nations had called these lands home. They traded with the Europeans. Eventually, these two groups came together and the Metis was born. The Metis were the descendants of First Nations and Scottish or French people. They were both farmers and hunters. When the missionaries came in they disapproved of these marriages between the fur traders and the indigenous people.
When Hudson Bay sold their lands to the Canadian government, the Metis' land deeds were threatened. The Metis lived between two worlds. They were neither first nation nor white enough for either group. They were trapped. Despite this, the Metis planned to protect their land. A council was formed to negotiate with the government in Ottawa and Louis Riel was appointed leader. Louis Riel returned from Montreal after a failed engagement. He returned home and worked to protect his people and his people’s land.
Louis Riel and his men attacked a fort. One man was killed. The Ottawa government was placed between a rock in a hard place. There was no major army to speak of, so the Metis were able to get what they want. The Metis were allowed into Canada as the province of Manitoba. However, the English Canadians wanted Riel’s head. Riel went into exile. Unfortunately, as time passed, the Metis felt threatened again. The Metis had moved from Manitoba and moved into adjoining territories.
A group of Metis traveled to Montana to find the exiled Riel. They needed him to lead the Metis again. The survival of the Metis nation was under threat. Riel went back to Canada and railed the people again. The Canadian government initiated a census and counted the Metis. The Metis rose against the Canadian Government at Duck Lake. To prevent a massacre Louis Riel stepped in. He was a peacemaker and not a warrior. Could Riel negotiate a peaceful surrender between the Metis and the Canadian government? What would happen to the Metis after this rebellion?
The second half of the series looks at the fur trade and how administrative centers were created. Wars broke out between the French and the British for supremacy of the Canadian fur trade. This episode goes further into the Hudson Bay Company. They were the most powerful company in North America. Not only did they highlight the fur trade, but they also highlighted the pemican trade. To continue to learn more about the Metis watch this episode.
It would have been nice to hear more about the Metis culture and how that emerged. Why did they adopt the infinity flag? How was the Metis confederation adopted? I would have liked to have learned more about the Hudson Bay Company and how they owned so much land in Canada? It also seemed that the episodes were either put together or aired out of order. The episode should have led up with the Hudson Bay Company and then put the Metis rebellion second. If I was a teacher, I would show the Hudson Bay Company section first and then show the Metis rebellion second.
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