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Natives vow to stand their ground

Mood tense as sheriff visits

Paul Legall
The Hamilton Spectator
CALEDONIA (Mar 31, 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.]

Native protesters had just staked their territory with a black line on the road and were in no mood to budge yesterday when a sheriff tried to evict them from a construction site outside of town.

About an hour before Sheriff John Dawson arrived, the Six Nation activists had spray painted the line across the Argyle Street entrance of Douglas Creek Estates and said they couldn't be responsible for outsiders who crossed it.

Michael Laughing, 40, who led a group of protesters from the Akwesasne Reserve at Cornwall, had earlier said some of his cohorts were willing to die to protect the land. "They'll have to kill me to remove me from here," he said, adding clan mothers at his reserve asked him to assist the Six Nations protesters.

The mood was tense when Dawson arrived around 4 p.m. and started reading the latest version of a contempt order to evict the natives from the site.

Sheriff Dawson had stepped about a foot over the black line and initially refused to move back, which angered protesters even more. He eventually relented and took a few steps back, saying, "no problem."

Six Nations activist Jeff Hawk confronted the sheriff with an eviction order of his own, which accused the authorities of a myriad of crimes against aboriginal people, including genocide. He ordered the sheriff to read it first before the contempt order, saying it superseded any order of the provincial courts.

Dawson ignored him and continued reading the five-page document citing protesters for civil and criminal contempt of court.

If they didn't leave on their own, the OPP could come in and arrest them and they would be placed on six months' probation with orders not to return within 100 feet of the site.

The sheriff's words were soon drowned out by Hawk's stentorian voice, as he read out the words of his proclamation entitled: "Notice of Violation of the Law."

"You are in violation of the supreme law of the universe by your acts of aggression, violence, breaking the peace, conspiracy to commit murder, blood sacrifice, genocide against the On'kwehon:we, original people of the land," Hawk stated.

The protesters, who were massed around a barricade, refused to take copies of the sheriff's contempt order and the stack of documents was dumped on the street outside the black line. One of the protesters stomped the pile with his boot and somebody lit the paper, which smouldered for several minutes before going out.

It was the third time in three weeks that Dawson had appeared to read the injunction and serve notice the protesters were in contempt of court.

But nobody left after yesterday's reading and, as of late last night, there was no sign of police.

A high steel worker, who assisted in the 911 rescue and recovery operation in New York City, Laughing thought Dawson had been disrespectful to his people.

"The man didn't ever listen. If he had shown some respect, maybe he would have gotten further," he told reporters.

A member of a core group who moved onto the site a month ago, Hawk said the latest reading doesn't affect his resolve to stay on the site.

Calling the action a land "reclamation," the protesters say the subdivision is on land that was deeded to Six Nations in the Haldimand Proclamation of 1784 and still belongs to them.

Hawk and other protesters have said the provincial courts have no jurisdiction over native lands and they'll only deal with the Attorney General of Canada, the Governor General, the Queen or her delegates on a "nation-to-nation" basis.

"We plan to maintain the site until we get what we want... It's not about the money. It's about the land. We want the land back six miles on each side of the Grand River from the mouth to the source," he told reporters.

Don Henning, of Henco Industries, has said he has a clear title to the land and has fulfilled all the planning requirements, including notification of the Six Nations elected band council, in getting Douglas Creek Estates approved. He said his company is being held hostage between the protesters and the federal government. He has appealed to the minister of Indian Affairs to help resolve the impasse.

Last week, Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice sent an emissary on a "fact-finding" mission.

"They sent us a monkey. We sent him back. We wanted an organ grinder (who calls the tune), not a monkey," Hawk told reporters. "I'm staying here. I don't plan to go. Am I supposed to be a good little Indian and walk off the land?"

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