After petitioning the government to meet with them, and being ignored, the Metis took the matter into their own hands. On March 8, 1885, Louis Riel declared the formation of a government and a Bill of Rights. The supporters were advised to ready their rifles and pistols. This caught the government's attention!
Likely Riel thought that this would finally move the government to action. He was right - but not in the way he had hoped. In 1870, when Riel tried to establish a new government in Manitoba, the existing government finally started negotiating. Not this time.
The NWMP began increasing the number of men they had posted in Fort Carlton and Prince Albert. On March 23, Major General Frederick Middleton, the Commander of the Canadian Militia, started readying his men. They would arrive much sooner than Riel had anticipated.
Meanwhile, the Metis and some of their Native friends were trying to take control of the country. Trading posts and a stage station had been stripped of their supplies and horses. An Indian Agent, his interpreter, two telegraph repairmen and a storekeeper had been taken prisoner. The Metis Council gave the NWMP an ultimatum - surrender all government property at Fort Carlton and Battleford or be prepared to be killed!
The Superintendent took Riel's statement seriously. He asked for volunteers to join his men. Short on supplies, he sent 18 men to Duck Lake to retrieve ammunition and other items hidden there.
Major General Frederick Middleton at right, with wounded soldiers at Fish Creek.