Grave not that of heroes and warriors

Dear Editor,

In regards to "Vandalized graves restored in Battleford" (Regional Optimist July 4), although I do not condone such vandalism, I do take exception to Floyd Favel`s depiction of the eight convicted murderers as warriors and Eleanore Sunchild's description of them as heroes. Because of this I am compelled to add some history to what happened prior to this largest mass hanging in Canadian history.

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There was no war or fight going on at the time when these eight criminals carried out their dastardly deeds. All eight individuals were tried under the terms of the law that was in place at the time. All those executed were tried before Judge Rouleau alone, having waived their right to a jury trial.

Research shows the following recorded history of the crimes of these eight men. Wandering Spirit killed Indian Agent John Quinn by shooting him in the back. Round- the-Sky killed unarmed Reverend Father Fafard in cold blood. Manachoos and Miserable Man murdered Charles Gouin. Near Battleford, Man-without- Blood, an Assiniboine, shot Bernard Tremont in his own house when he objected to his horses and cattle being stolen. Ikteh, another Assiniboine, murdered Indian Instructor James Payne in cold blood.

Later, Payne's Indian wife (daughter of Chief Mosquito) and child were also found murdered. These "alleged" crimes were proven in court, several of these men confessed to their crimes and the evidence was corroborated by many witnesses. These men were not "warriors", or "freedom fighters" or "heroes" as described by Favel and Sunchild, they were cold blooded murderers of innocent civilians. Except for the murder of James Payne, all these murders lie at the feet of Louis Riel and his Métis rebels, who incited these Indians to violence while coercing them to join his ill fated rebellion.

Barry J. Degenstein

Author/compiler of The Pursuit of Louis Riel

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