Friday, April 21, 2006


Keeping you up to date on the Six Nations who aren't going anywhere.

The following is from the Toronto Star. The second is from Indian Country Today.

Native protestors await word on negotiations

CALEDONIA, Ont. — An uneasy peace settled amid the barricades and bandannas Friday as native protesters occupying a disputed tract of southwestern Ontario land waited to hear whether negotiations to settle the standoff were making any headway.

Chill winds and a steady rain were doing little to weaken the resolve of hundreds of protesters at the half-finished housing development in Caledonia, a community of about 10,000 people a 20-minute drive south of Hamilton.

Some 350 kilometres away, a sympathy protest near Belleville, Ont., halted at least a dozen CN freight trains and disrupted Via Rail's passenger service in one of Canada's busiest travel corridors.

About 50 Mohawks from the Tyendinaga reserve near the town of Maryville, about 200 kilometres east of Toronto, were blocking a CN track to show their support for the Six Nations members in Caledonia.

Acrid black smoke billowed from the scene. A pair of school buses were being used to block a small road leading to the rail tracks. Provincial police officers were watching the protest, but keeping their distance, staying at least 500 metres away.

Members of the Akwesasne reserve near Cornwall, Ont., outside Ottawa staged a small protest near the Canada-U.S. border crossing, holding picket signs and drawing honks of support from passing motorists.

In Caledonia, where huge piles of tires and an abandoned van were set ablaze Thursday as a dramatic show of defiance, smaller fires were burning Friday as protesters wrapped in Six Nations flags huddled in hopes of warmth.

Provincial police were keeping their distance; several cruisers could be seen parked down the road from one of the three barricades preventing access to the makeshift compound as several officers stood in the middle of the road, surveying the scene.

RCMP officers were also lending their support, said Staff Sgt. Paul Marsh. "The RCMP is proving assistance to the OPP in Caledonia, at their request."

The Caledonia standoff erupted Thursday when a police raid aimed at ending a seven-week native occupation resulted in dozens more protesters descending on the scene, pushing police back.

At least 16 people were arrested in the initial raid, but by Friday morning the number of protesters had swelled dramatically, blockading a main highway with burning piles of tires, makeshift barricades and massive piles of gravel.

Sam George, whose brother Dudley was killed by a police sniper during the 1995 clash at Ipperwash Provincial Park, called Friday for calm and urged authorities to treat the dispute in as fair a way as possible.

"Lands now occupied in Caledonia are part of a parcel that were originally promised to the First Nations to be theirs forever," George told a news conference.

"There are probably at least some of the original Six Nations lands that deserve to be returned to them."

Native leaders elsewhere were urging their members to stay away from the scene of the standoff.

"It is clear there are very complex issues involved and the immediate safety of those at the site is of the most urgent concern," Metis Nation of Ontario president Tony Belcourt said in a statement.

Tyendinega Mohawk spokesman Shawn Brant said the Mohawks would remain at the bonfires near Maryville "until proper, dignified and respectful talks" are held to resolve the dispute.

Politicians and aboriginal leaders met all day Friday in an effort to resolve the standoff peacefully, Premier Dalton McGuinty said. No one emerged, however, to report any progress in those talks, which the premier said were attended by the federal and provincial governments as well as police and a mediator.

Several Caledonia schools remained closed Friday as a safety precaution, but school boards in the area said they would reopen on Monday provided tensions at the occupation site don't escalate.

Six Nations Reserve repels Ontario police
© Indian Country Today April 21, 2006. All Rights Reserved
Posted: April 21, 2006
by: Jim Adams / Indian Country Today

OHSWEKEN, Ontario - More than 1,000 residents of Canada's Six Nations Reserve rushed to the site of a standoff between Native protesters and the Ontario Provincial Police during the early hours of April 20 after an armed police raid resulted in 10 arrests and several hospitalizations.

According to one report, two of the hospitalized were non-Native supporters of the protest. About 15 protesters were sleeping at the ''reclamation site'' when a caravan of at least eight police vehicles raided and made arrests.

According to the TV report, police were armed with drawn guns, Taser devices and tear gas, although the weapons were not used.

Protesters at the contested construction site regrouped and pushed police back to the nearby road as the call went out for support from the largely Iroquois community, Amos Key, director of the community radio station CKRZ-FM, said. The Native-run station is broadcasting a live feed from the standoff on its Internet site,

Key said that urgent talks were now under way between the Confederation chiefs and officials of the provincial and federal governments.

Lisa Johnson, of the Bear's Inn in Ohsweken, was following live television coverage of the events all morning and said that residents of the reserve poured into the site as news of the early morning raid spread through the community of 22,000 and by 7:50 a.m. had gathered in sufficient numbers to force the police to leave. As of noon, no police were on the site, although talk spread throughout the community that they were regrouping in riot gear with about 1,000 reinforcements.

The arrests could total up to 15, but protesters who had been arrested were released after being fingerprinted and photographed, although they were warned that they faced jail time if they returned to the site. Several had reportedly rejoined the protesters.

The television coverage resulted by accident. An employee of Hamilton CHTV, noticed the police activity as he drove to work and notified a camera crew, which broadcast from the site all morning. All other reporters were barred from the site by provincial police.

After the OPP withdrew, protesters blocked Highway 6, also known as Plank Road, which runs by the construction site called the Douglas Creek subdivision, and a secondary road. They set a pile of tires on fire and pulled a large dump truck across the road. A large pile of tires and planks were assembled at another crossing, but at last report it had not been set ablaze.

After the roads were blocked, residents continued to reach the site by walking to the surrounding forest.

On the other hand, police closed streets entering the nearby town of Caledonia, although schoolchildren were bused to school early in the morning. Both schools were closed later in the day and parents on the reserve were still uncertain how their children would be returned home.

Haudenosaunee Confederacy chiefs had met all night before the raid. They reportedly told provincial officials that they did not control the protesters, but they were attempting to negotiate on their behalf.

The timing of the raid was still unexplained, but the developers of the subdivision had reportedly threatened to start a civil action against the OPP to pressure it to remove the protesters.

The crisis brought a rare spirit of unity to the reserve, healing a decades-long split between the elected band council and the traditional confederacy chiefs.

The elected council was imposed on the reserve in 1924 by the federal Canadian government to replace the traditional leadership, but the confederacy persisted as an institution often at odds with the elected governments on both sides of the border.

The band council had expressed doubts about the occupation of the Douglas Creek site, which was supported by the confederacy chiefs.

In the aftermath of the raid, however, the council delegated negotiating authority to the chiefs.

The crisis apparently has also hardened the outlook among the traditional chiefs.

According to Key, the chiefs originally instructed the warrior groups in the protest to leave the site if ordered to by the OPP.

Said Key: ''It's escalated and escalated. We're all frustrated. Our goal is to get to the quality of life second to none that Canada espouses to the world, but we are 30 years behind.''

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