#List of Rights as of 27 September [sic: 27 October]

The list below is the earliest known ‘list of rights’ to come out of the Red River Resistance of 1869-1870 — though there may well have been previous versions, even substantively different versions. No original document is known to exist, the only remaining historical traces being the lists printed in Canadian and American newspapers in October of 1869.[1]

1. The right to elect their own Legislature.

2. That the Legislature shall have power to pass an Act, of a local nature, by a two-third vote, over the veto of the Executive.

3. No law of a local nature to be binding until sanctioned by the Legislature.

4. A free Homestead and Pre-emption law.[2]

5. An Indian policy calculated to insure good will and quiet in the Territory.

6. All the Executive, Legislative, Civil, and Military expenses, for a given number of years, to be paid out of the Dominion Treasury.

7. An appropriation to be extended to the internal improvements in the territory.

After placing these guarantees beyond peradventure, then the proposition of annexation to the Dominion to be submitted to a vote of the people.[3]


Next list: #List of Rights circa 16 November 1869


[1] List printed in “The Red River Row. An American Account of the Affair, (Pembina, D.T., Sept 27, Correspondent of the Yankton Dakota),” Toronto Daily Globe (n.d.), in Glenbow Museum [GM], M-6058, “James Ross’ Scrapbook,” 3; but see also “Red River. All About the Rebellion. What the Rebels Demand,” Toronto Globe (20 November 1869), in GM, M-6058, “James Ross’ Scrapbook,” 5, which reprints the information, identifying the source as the Yankton Dakotian (27 October 1869). The first five points were reprinted again in “Trouble at Red River,” St. Cloud Journal (18 November 1869). Initially, the information was likely forwarded to the Dakotian by Enos Stutsman, who had been one of the newspaper’s owners c. 1862. See Rita Thomas, “At 140, P&D Looks To The Past, Future,” Yankton Daily Press and Dakotan (6 June 2001), (accessed 8 October 2014).

[2] Of these points, the fourth, a pre-emption law, meant that settlers — including Aboriginal settlers — could pre-empt land (assert ownership of property), and qualify as homesteaders without having to pay a purchase price. Attaining recognition of that right was critical for First Nations and Métis farmers. In 1862, after “an Indian offered to buy of portion of Crown land at a public sale in British Columbia,” legislation had been enacted “prohibiting aboriginal people from pre-empting (homesteading) but not from purchasing.” Quotation source: Wendy Moss and Elaine Gardner-O’Toole, “Aboriginal People: History of Discriminatory Laws,” BP-175e, Publications, Government of Canada (1987). See also “Homestead Act (1862),” http://www.ourdocuments.gov (accessed 20 May 2014), which describes the U.S. implementation of homesteading laws for the American West.]

The people of Red River, who had ties with British Columbia and were aware of political changes there, would have known about that issue. They were also likely aware that:

the draft ‘Order-in-Council for Uniting Rupert’s Land and the North western Territory to the Dominion of Canada’ contained one solitary provision regarding existing land holdings. It read simply ‘All titles to land up to the 8th March 1869 conferred by the company are to be confirmed.’ Application of that sole provision would have resulted in the conversion of only a minority of the Red River land titles into free-holds supported by Crown Patents.

Quotation source: Philippe R. Mailhot, “Ritchot’s Resistance: Abbé Nöel Joseph Ritchot and the Creation and Transformation of Manitoba,” Ph.D. diss. (University of Manitoba, 1986), 23.

The fourth point ensured that all farmsteads, whether or not they had be registered by the HBC (and many properties had been neither purchased nor registered), and whether or not the landholders were Aboriginal, would be protected.

[3] Notably annexation, not confederation, is mentioned. See “Annexation’ versus ‘Confederation’; ‘Imperialism’ and ‘Colonialism’; ‘Invasion’,” this site.


Published 31 August 2014


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