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'Everybody's watching'

Six Nations residents blame all levels of government for not stepping forward and resolving land claims

Wade Hemsworth
The Hamilton Spectator
OHSWEKEN (Apr 21, 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.]

As anger, uncertainty and anxiety continue to ferment on both sides of the barricades at Caledonia, the residents of Six Nations are left wondering who will step up to deal with their claim over disputed lands near the Grand River.

Across Canada's most populous native reserve, emotions ran high throughout the day after Ontario Provincial Police detained native protesters occupying the construction site at Douglas Creek Estates at the southern edge of the developed area of town.

Though the police withdrew, few at Six Nations believed the trouble was over.

"Everybody's watching. Everybody's talking. Everybody's concerned," said Carrie Hill, manager of the busy Big Six Gas and Convenience on Fourth Line near Oneida Road, where customers shared news and rumours.

By early afternoon, Hill had heard everything, from talks continuing to talks breaking off to the police backing away to the police planning to return. She blamed the government of Canada and Ontario for the vacuum.

"Nobody's willing to come forward and take responsibility for anything," she said.

At Sixth Line and Oneida Road, just west of the occupied subdivision, a small group led by a handful of young natives was slowing traffic and swearing at white people as burning tires spewed black smoke into the air.

Nearby, a 50-year-old man, who would identify himself only as Steve, was quieter but no less angry.

"That's what I've grown up with: anger. It's generational. It's not just me. My dad feels it. My ancestors felt it," he said.

Steve said he and other natives have simply grown tired of all levels of government trying to pass off responsibility for their unresolved land claims.

"It's their way of addressing the problem: wishing that we would go away. They want us to go away, but we won't. We can't. To us, it's black and white. We're not going to win in the white man's courts, because it's the white man's law."

At the occupation site, a native man, who goes by the traditional name Hadocsay, stepped forward to demand answers from Haldimand County Mayor Marie Trainer as she spoke to reporters.

"She's always evading the question," he said after she told him the response to the protest was a police matter beyond her jurisdiction. "The only people we want to see are federal officials who can come down here and deal with the problem."

The 77-year-old man said he had been pushed to the ground and briefly handcuffed by OPP officers earlier in the day.

After a long morning trying to restore calm at the barricades, Lesley Greene and her husband, Dennis, took a late lunch at Vinny's Down "B" Low Diner on Sixth Line near Cayuga Road.

The native couple, who live near the protest site, were representing the Apostolic Motorcycle Ministry of Jesus Christ, and had been urging protesters to remain calm in the face of growing tension.

"We just tell people we love them, we care about them. And if it looks like tension is getting heavier, we tell them, 'Come out. Come away from here'. If someone seems tired and needs rest, we try to pull them away and urge them to rest."

Greene said she was deeply saddened by the situation and the fear it has caused in Caledonia and on the reserve.

"It's not necessary, absolutely not, what the police have come in and done," she said. "That's where it hurts. If you think there's fear in Caledonia, how do you think we feel about our people out there on the front line? That's the greatest fear."

Greene said she had talked a young man into putting down a plastic baseball bat. The bat itself wouldn't have done much harm, but she worried it might have been too late for him before someone realized it.

"You need to put that down. That's not called for," she told the young man. "Don't brandish it. It looks like you want to fight. I know how you feel inside, but I want to see you at the end of this. When all of this is over, I want to know that you're alive."

Like so many on the reserve, she hopes it's not too late for a peaceful solution.

"I don't want to see anything bad come to the people ... not for Caledonia residents and not for Six Nations. Not at all."

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