Red River Rebellion, 1869-70, an uprising against the Canadian government by the métis (persons of mixed French and Indian ancestry) in the Red River Valley of what is now Manitoba. The trouble began in 1869 after the Hudson's Bay Company sold its territorial rights to Rupert's Land (which included the Red River Valley) to Canada.
At that time, there were about 12,000 settlers along the Red River; more than half of them were métis, who hunted, dealt in furs, and transported goods for the Hudson's Bay Company.
When Canada began to organize the territory into sections and townships in preparation for an expected influx of new colonists, the métis feared they would be dispossessed (since they did not have legal title to the lands they occupied) and would have no voice in any government set up in the territory. Soon it was learned that William McDougall, who had been appointed territorial lieutenant governor by Canada, was on his way to establish a government. Louis Riel, a métis leader, organized the métis into a military force, in October, 1869, to contest the Canadian takeover. The métis prevented McDougall from entering the territory and seized Fort Garry (Winnipeg). Riel established a provisional government in November, and later became its president.
Hoping for a peaceful solution to the crisis, the Canadian government sent a commission to determine the Red River settlers' conditions for accepting union with Canada. Métis representatives then went to Ottawa to present their terms to the Canadian government. Meanwhile, Thomas Scott, who had been convicted of rebelling against Riel's government, was executed (March, 1870). News of Scott's death caused shock and anger in English-speaking Canada. The Ottawa government dispatched a military force to the territory to prevent further violence. Riel fled to the United States before the troops arrived, and the rebellion, which had for the most part been bloodless, collapsed.
The Red River Settlement became the nucleus of the province of Manitoba, established in July, 1870. Although a number of the demands of the métis had been incorporated into the act that created the new province, many métis drifted westward to Saskatchewan. There they again clashed with the Canadian government, in the Saskatchewan Rebellion of 1885.