The Scorched-Wood People

by Rudy Wiebe
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Why does Gabriel disagree with Riel’s decision to send away the buffalo hunters in The Scorched-Wood People?

Gabriel disagrees with Riel’s decision to send away the buffalo hunters because he does not trust the Canadian government and wants the Métis to remain vigilant.

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Once the Canadian government passed the Manitoba Act, Louis Riel declared victory. The Métis struggle produced a big achievement. After lots of fighting, the government officially made them a province. The people of Red River will keep their land. They will receive a different governor. This time, the official will...

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Once the Canadian government passed the Manitoba Act, Louis Riel declared victory. The Métis struggle produced a big achievement. After lots of fighting, the government officially made them a province. The people of Red River will keep their land. They will receive a different governor. This time, the official will be, in the words of Riel, a “good one.” As a gesture of peace, and on account of all of the work that needs to be done elsewhere, Riel sends the buffalo hunters away.

Gabriel Dumont does not agree with Riel’s decision. “I don’t like this,” he tells Riel. Gabriel thinks Riel is overly optimistic about the future. Riel, in turn, sees the political developments as proof that his strategy worked. According to Riel, they were just granted the largest country in the world, and they didn’t have to kill anyone to get it. Gabriel is of the opinion that their gains are linked to their guns. The reason why the Canadians engaged with Riel was fear of violence. By sending the buffalo hunters away, the threat of violence and their political leverage disappear.

Riel stands by his command. He doesn’t want the army of buffalo hunters to provoke the Canadian force. Riel trusts the government. Gabriel does not trust the government, which is why he disagrees with Riel’s order.

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