Métis leader Louis Riel rallied his people with the help of fellow Métis crack shot and military strategist Gabriel Dumont in the 1885 North West Rebellion. Their ill-fated mission was to inform the Dominion of Canada of their many grievances and increasing difficulties to survive as a people. The Métis and their allied First Nations forces fought bravely but despite winning several victories, most notably the battles of Duck Lake and Fish Creek, Riel – one of the founders of the province of Manitoba – was arrested for treason and hanged at Sir John A. MacDonald’s insistence in November of 1885. Dumont escaped to Montana and was granted political refuge by the Americans. Despite being regarded as traitors and trouble-rousers by many outside the Métis community, later 20th century historical teachings have expressed a growing appreciation for Riel and Dumont’s brave support of the rights of their people in the face of a racist government.
Author Joseph Boyden is of Irish, Scottish and Métis ancestry and confesses to a great need for travel. He spent many years wandering the Southern United States and worked as a band roadie, waiter, gravedigger and tutor. Boyden earned an MFA in New Orleans, where he and his wife, Amanda Boyden, are currently writers-in-residence, though they spend their summer months in Northern Ontario. His first novel, Three Day Road, received the McNally Robinson Aboriginal Book of the Year Award and was nominated for the 2005 Governor General’s Literary Award. The novel is an unforgettable portrait of two native snipers in WWI. In his book on Riel and Dumont, Boyden focuses on two warriors in an earlier battle for recognition of aboriginal integrity.