Since he was tried and hanged for treason in November of 1885, Louis Riel has been the subject of more histories, biographies, novels, and poetry than any other figure in Canadian history. Politician, founder of Manitoba, and leader of the aboriginal Metis people, Riel led two resistance movements against the Canadian government: the Red River Uprising of 1869-70, and the North-West Rebellion of 1885, in defense of Metis and other minority rights.Against the backdrop of these legendary uprisings, Jennifer Reid examines Riel's religious background, the mythic significance that has consciously been ascribed to him, and how these elements combined to influence Canada's search for a national identity. Reid's study provides a framework for rethinking the geopolitical significance of the modern Canadian state, the historic role of Confederation in establishing the country's collective self-image, and the narrative space through which Riel's voice speaks to these issues.
Jennifer Reid is professor of religion at the University of Maine, Farmington. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Ottawa. She is the author of Myth, Symbol and Colonial Encounter, Worse Than Beasts: An Anatomy of Melancholy and the Literature of Travel in 17th and 18th Century England, as well as numerous articles in the history of religions. She edited the volume Religion and Global Culture: New Terrain in the Study of Religion.