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Canadians: Gabriel Dumont


Born in St. Boniface in 1837 of French and Indian parentage, Gabriel Dumont's childhood was spent in the Saskatchewan country, where he thrived in the semi-nomadic ways of the Metis.  He was an exceptionally skillful prairie-hunter, a fine marksman with both gun and bow and arrow, and spoke six Aboriginal languages besides French.

When Gabriel Dumont became head of the Great Saskatchewan Hunt in 1862, traditional Metis ways were under great stress.  As the buffalo herds dwindled, the Metis began to form more permanent settlements, but were alarmed when their please for recognition of their land rights were ignored by Sir John A. Macdonald's government.  In response, Dumont formed a local government based upon the traditional rules of the buffalo hunt.

Finally, Dumont appealed to Louis Riel, leader of the Red River Rebellion.  Riel spoke up for the Saskatchewan Metis, but the petitions were still ignored.  In 1885, the Metis took up arms against government forces.  Dumont fought heroically, and spurred his outnumbered rebels to several victories.

In the end, the Metis were defeated, and Dumont fled to the US.  He would return to his homeland when an amnesty was declared in 1886.  Gabriel Dumont died near his old home in Batoche in 1906.

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