20 January 2014
The National Policy: Law and Order, Western Style
Forming the Force
The Americans in their effort to acquire the west, engaged in long and costly Indian Wars. The
CND government wished to avoid this and so developed the North West Mounted Police
Prior to this though the HBC had administrative authority over the region, they had no muscle to
back their laws (see Sayer case), and the aboriginals remained the strongest military force in
the region. Ottawa is also concerned that Americans will start squatting on CND land, and they
know that once they get in it’s almost impossible to get rid of Americans. The big question for
Ottawa is should the authority in the NWT be locally controlled or controlled from central CND?
They also wanted to avoid another incident like the Red River Resistance, but it was the
Cypress Hills Massacre that pushed them to have central control. In 1872, some Americans fur
traders were trading at an illegal trading fort (on CND soil) and got rather drunk. They then
accused some Assiniboine’s, who were also trading at the fort, of stealing their horses and killed
nearly all of them before fleeing to American soil to avoid facing the law. So the call went out for
“… men promising in character, physique, and discipline,” to be part of the NWMP. 300 men
The organization of the NWMP was based on the Royal Irish Constabulary that British
government had formed in 1822 to deal with the social unrest in Ireland. They carried weapons,
and were organized along military lines and used military discipline and were at the sole
discretion of the minister of Justice in Ottawa. The 300 recruits came from Ontario and Québec,
and they all had mustaches. They were mounted, armed and organized as a cavalry unit with 6
divisions. They wore the Red Serge, a colour that they thought the Aboriginals associated with
the Crown, which Ottawa thought the Aboriginals trusted.
The NWMP: As Agents of Colonization?
The NWT was on the peripheries of an expanding system of industrial capitalism. Bringing the
NWT under Ottawa’s control was seen as a second colonization process of the continent.
Ottawa was concerned with establishing a federal presence in the vast interior, which in a way
the NWMP did. They brought a sense of law and order and often had good relationship with the
Aboriginals until the Federal governm