A little history of Western Canada – the main characters in the Riel Rebellion
I don’t know why but Big Bear was a fascinating person to me. Unlike most of the others who willingly took a government Reservation, Big Bear has his reservations. Almost psychic he predicted the starvation and loss of a way of life that wasn’t for the better. He wanted so badly for the white man to go away and for the buffalo to return, both of which were dreams.
Refusing to take a reservation Big Bear took his people to Montana where they could have their life of freedom and live the way they wanted. That is until the USA army kicked them out – calling them Canadian Indians. That might have been confusing as well. The Native borders were not so defined and a Canadian or American Indian wasn’t so cut and dried.
He knew he couldn’t fight the American army so he came back to take a reservation near Frog Lake. When the Metis declared their own nation in the west, Big Bear (Peace Chief) and especially Wandering Spirit (War Chief) willingly left their reservations to reclaim their land. The Frog Lake Massacre occurred. Instead of joining their allies in Batoche however, Wandering Spirit seemed happy to just wander around pillaging and plundering.
Both Big Bear and Wandering Spirit were hung in Regina for their activities in the Rebellion.
In Hawk’s Gift, my characters Damien and Roberta spend time in Big Bear’s Montana camp.