Louis Riel, Métis, 1844-1885
In 1869, he founded the Comité National des Métis
to protect his people’s rights, and helped stage the Red
River Uprising, for which he was exiled to the United States.
He eventually returned to set up a provisional government and,
as the self-declared prophet of his people, became embroiled in
the 1885 rebellion. Canadian government military forces crushed
the rebellion and Riel surrendered. His subsequent trial and execution
aroused bitterness and debate. Alternately described as visionary
and madman, victim and villain, he is a controversial figure:
a combination of martyr and hero to many Canadians. A longer biography
appears in Native Leaders of Canada.