This startling retelling of the North-West Rebellion explodes the myth of a grand Indian-MÚtis alliance and delves into the reasons why Indians have been branded as traitors and rebels in both the public imagination and official records.
After the rebellion, twenty-eight reserves were officially identified as disloyal, and more than fifty Indians - including Poundmaker and Big Bear - were convicted of rebellion-related crimes. The most damning event was the mass execution of eight Indian warriors at Fort Battleford in November 1885.
But Indian elders have long told stories about how First Nations remained faithful to their treaty promises during the conflict. Having their own peaceful strategies for dealing with an insensitive federal government, they were not interested in Riel's activities, and any Indian involvement was isolated, sporadic, and minimal. But Ottawa deliberately portrayed the Indians as outlaws to justify increasingly restrictive and repressive measures, an injustice that has left a lasting legacy with First Nations people.
Loyal till Death is the first comprehensive look at the Indian version of the North-West Rebellion. It brings to life many personalities - particularly those of the Indian leaders, whose voices have seldom been heard in conventional histories of the Canadian West. Combining oral history and exhaustive research, and illustrated with more than one hundred archival photographs, the book sheds new light on a greatly misunderstood aspect of our past.