Bicentennial Of 1812 War Must Not Forget The Contribution From First Nation Warriors

War of 1812

Premier Stephen Harper is prepared to spend $20 million on celebrations commemorating the war of 1812. Two hundred years ago, American president James Madison declared war on Canada on the 18th of June. Madison wanted to control the port of Montreal, which would have negated any chance of continued British trading with its colony. He also wanted access to the territories of the northwest and beyond the Rocky Mountains. There was also a motive of revenge. Britain’s navy had done a masterful job of bottling up the European ports. America was not able to trade with France, which at the time was their biggest ally. It was a favorable time in Madison’s view; Canada was ruled by Britain who was about to face Napoleon at Waterloo and would not be able to send soldiers or supplies to their colony.
The timing was not good for Canada. Less than fifty years after the Plains of Abraham, the population in Canada was mainly Aboriginal and French. The few English settlers were either soldiers of the British Crown or American Loyalists who had left their homes in the United States during the American revolution to emigrate to southern Ontario. They were loyal to the British Monarchy and distrustful of the newly founded American parliament, but there was no unity among the English settlers and the French. The sense of solidarity rested with fur traders and First Nations and certain soldiers who realized that to survive the harsh winter climate of Canada, they must learn from First Nations hunters who had knowledge handed down from generations. Scottish trader Robert Dickson had made an impression on Native Band leaders. Known as Mascotapah to his Native friends and as “the red haired man” to many others, Robert Dickson was described by Pierre Berton in his book Invasion of Canada who said, “Red haired man is as close to being an Indian as any white can be. “
Three months before Madison declared war, Dickson received a letter from the newly elected Canadian chief of the rag tag British regulars who for the most part had never been battle tested along with the French coureur de bois and local fur traders that were referred to as an army. Major-General Sir Isaac Brock realized how precarious the situation would be if war was declared. He recognized that the Americans had superior manpower, better artillery, and a more organized army along with a navy that could make the war an extremely short one.
Brock also realized that the American soldiers were not very experienced in the battlefield. His only chance was to strike first, launching a surprise attack before the Americans knew what hit them. To be successful would demand warriors who fought not in the traditional European method of squaring off in an open field, but in the Native way where soldiers and warriors used the terrain to their advantage, hiding behind trees, bushes, and in darkness until the moment was right to lower the tomahawk. In his letter to Dickson, he was requesting the help of First Nation warriors, and Brock knew if anyone could make it happen it was Dickson. “As it is probable that war may result from the present state of affairs, it is very desirable to ascertain the degree of co-oper