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Riel, Louis(lwē rēĕl`), 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.
Born Oct. 23, 1844, in St. Boniface; died Nov. 16, 1885, in Regina. A figure in the Canadian national democratic movement.
In October 1869, Riel led an uprising in the Red River valley and became secretary of the National Committee of Métis, which directed the struggle of farmers against encroachments on their lands by the federal authorities. In December 1869 the rebelling farmers elected Riel president of the provisional government. In August 1870 a punitive expedition suppressed the rebellion. Riel emigrated to the USA.
The people of the province of Manitoba, which had come into being in 1870 as a result of the uprising, elected Riel to the Canadian parliament three times between 1873 and 1874, but he was not permitted to take his seat. In March 1885, Riel headed an uprising of métis settlers and Indians in the Saskatchewan River valley against the railroad companies and representatives of the federal authorities. In July 1885 the rebellion was suppressed, and Riel was hanged in accordance with a court sentence.
O. S. SOROKO