The Chantry's story of the Exalted March of the Dales paints the picture of the righteous faithful arrayed against heathen savages. But I have long studied the Dales, and I find the "acceptable" version of the tale to be a poor one, laden with overt pro-Chantry and pro-human biases. Thus it is my moral imperative to propose an alternate interpretation: that the Exalted March of the Dales was nothing more than an expansionist ploy hiding behind the mask of faith.
It is easy to see on any map how large the Dales are. More importantly, they stand between Orlais and the rest of the south and would likely have represented a significant obstacle to the empire's expansion into Ferelden. Naturally, we stood to benefit from propagating the narrative of a hostile, unreasoning people attacking innocent missionaries and making blood sacrifices of good Andrastian babies. The likely truth is that the elves merely wished to maintain sovereignty over lands promised to them by Blessed Andraste herself, when the humans showed clear intent to undermine their autonomy.
Of course, the elves reacted by becoming increasingly isolationist, which suited the empire perfectly. Here was a kingdom that spurned diplomatic overtures and that refused to lend aid during the Second Blight when the darkspawn attacked Montsimmard. The Dalish kingdom could not be anything but a dormant threat, one that needed to be crushed before it awoke.
Scholars point to the massacre at Red Crossing as the impetus for the Chantry's declaration of an Exalted March on the elven kingdom in the Dales. They conveniently ignore the fact that no one alive truly knows what happened at Red Crossing or why the elves attacked. The Chantry's response to the elven aggression that resulted in the slaughter of hundreds was predictable. But in light of my thesis, perhaps we should reexamine the events of Red Crossing and wonder if the attack was truly unprovoked. Or whether it is possible that someone saw benefit in sacrificing an entire village to justify the subjugation of an entire people.
—From A New Perspective on the Exalted March, a pamphlet by an anonymous author, published by the University of Orlais in 9:12 Dragon