Batoche National Historic Site of Canada

The North West Rebellion/Métis Resistance

The resulting military confrontation was not simply an inevitable clash between complex and primitive societies. Such an interpretation leaves the impression that there was nothing vital in the culture or that the groups then inhabiting the Northwest presented a monolithic front prior to and during the events of 1885. The events which preceded the outbreak of violence involved complicated political and economic factors as well as the cultural and social issues traditionally emphasized.

Essentially there were five significant engagements during the North West Resistance/Rebellion. The North-West Field Force was involved in four of them: Fish Creek, Cut Knife Hill, Batoche and Frenchman's Butte. At Duck Lake, the skirmish was between the Métis and the North-West Mounted Police under Superintendent Crozier. One other major event occurred during the campaign - the Frog Lake "Massacre" where whites and Métis in the community were either killed or taken hostage by the malcontents of Big Bear's Cree. Only the Battle of Batoche gave the Canadian government forces a decisive victory.

The only clear Métis victory came at Duck Lake, the initial outbreak of violence. The other three conflicts, Fish Creek, Cut Knife Hill and Frenchman's Butte, were all stand-offs in one form or another. At Fish Creek, the Métis retreated after an indecisive battle; at Cut Knife Hill, other opponents withdrew after meeting stiff resistance from Poundmaker's Cree; and at Frenchman's Butte, Big Bear's Cree retreated from the barrage of fire into their defensive alignment, although the militia were unable to pursue them through the muskeg.