A perfect freedom : Red River as a settler society, 1810-1870

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Hall, Norma Jean
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Colonial era settlements in Newfoundland and Red River manifested quasi-stateless settler society identities for unusually protracted, approximately equal, and reasonably congruent spans of time. Reading the history of the Red River Settlement along the lines that Newfoundland has emerged in recent rereading of that historiography resolves problems attributable to investigation being carried out in isolation from other frames of reference. Settler societies formed during the Colonial era shared circumstantial similarities but displayed developmental variations. The endowment of each location profoundly influenced the kind of society that could be superimposed upon it. Yet, Red River accords with the description of quasi-stateless settlement dynamics outlined for Newfoundland in that the contradictory social relationship between producers and procurers entailed mutual dependence as well as mutual force. Metis settlers, a free and active element motivated to enhance community development, applied solutions devised through cooperative association built on consensus. Their quasi-stateless condition did not prevent development; merchant credit enabled development by providing a solution to the absence of money; and focus on the fur trade did not prevent agricultural development from becoming as extensive as the community could handle. By 1869, the Metis were a primed population, well positioned to benefit from a substantial increase in development once enhanced transportation systems allowed immigration and consequent market expansion to take place. That this did not occur supports the contention that the dissolution of the Red River Metis community was due to the application of external force, not to internal weakness.