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Clan mothers lay it on the line

No showdown with police at native rally to stop builders

Paul Legall
The Hamilton Spectator
CALEDONIA (Mar 23, 2006)

[SISIS note: The following mainstream news article is provided for reference only, as an example of how mainstream media treats indigenous resistance to genocide. Mainstream media often presents biased and distorted information, lacking pertinent facts and/or context. Inclusion of this article on our site should not be considered an endorsement by SISIS.]

More than a hundred native women including powerful clan mothers locked arms in a human chain to block a police arresting party that never happened.

It was the second mass rally that native protesters have staged since moving onto a residential building construction site south of town on Feb. 28.

It started with about a dozen people in the morning. Supporters kept streaming in during the course of the day and by 2 p.m., more than 200 people had gathered at the entrance of the Douglas Creek Estates.

There were also dozens of cars parked on and around the building site and along both sides of Argyle Street. The anticipated showdown with the local OPP also attracted a steady stream of spectators creating bumper-to-bumper traffic on the road.

Droves of new supporters, including natives from other parts of Canada and the United States, responded to a judge's order last week which ordered protesters to leave the site by 2 p.m. If they didn't go on their own, they were told they'd be arrested for contempt of court and face a possible 30-day jail sentence.

About half an hour after the deadline passed with no sign of police intervention, the group started to relax and disperse. After holding their position at the front of the line for almost 45 minutes, the women unlocked their arms for the first time.

The strong show of women was a testimony to the moral authority the Six Nations clan mothers have displayed in the action, which has been described as a "land reclamation."

The clan mothers, who'd been acting mostly behind the scenes, yesterday came out with a press release addressed to the developer of the subdivision, provincial and federal authorities and "Her Majesty the Queen."

They told them they had no business on the disputed land.

"Therefore, we the clan mothers command the agents, representatives and officers of the said British corporation to be at peace and refrain from any acts of violence to spill blood or interfere with the rights of the Onkwe'hon:we" (the aboriginal people), they wrote.

The missive was signed "Clan mothers."

The protesters say the subdivision is on part of the Haldimand tract that was deeded to the Six Nations in 1784 and still belongs to them. They argue the tract, which covers 9.6 kilometres both sides of the Grand River from the mouth to the source, was never transferred to third parties and is still their territory.

Professor Tony Hall, who teaches native studies at the University of Lethbridge, has described the current dispute as "ground zero" in the native struggle to reclaim lost lands.

John and Don Henning, of Henco Industries Limited, issued a press released this week stating that Six Nations had made "no submissions of objection at any time during the three-year planning process" for Douglas Creek Estates.

They also stated they have a provincial land titles certificate guaranteeing they're the legal owners of the property.

"We are being held hostage between a splinter group and the federal government, a situation over which we have no control," the Henco officials wrote.

Henco obtained a court injunction on March 3 to have the protesters removed from the site. But because it was a civil order, the local OPP said they had no power to enforce it until yesterday, after a judge ruled that the protesters could be arrested for contempt of court.

Stacey Boots came from the Akwesasne reserve near Cornwall to give his support. "There was a call for help and we responded," he said.

Asked about the role of the women, he replied, "They're great. We follow their lead."

Earlier he told the protesters: "I think what we did today was great....This is the beginning."

Janie Jamieson, 31, an organizer, was pleased with the turnout but has no illusion police have forgotten about them. She said they're likely to show up when there are fewer protesters around.

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