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Protesters use barricade to screen non-native visitors

'Open the road,' yell angry residents

Paul Legall and Daniel Nolan
The Hamilton Spectator
CALEDONIA (Apr 27, 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.]

A white Ford Grand Cherokee with the word 'Security' stencilled on the back suddenly appeared from behind the barricade and drove up to a utility van that had stopped about 10 metres from the barrier.

Two native men emerged from the SUV and greeted the driver of the van, who was making a service call for a telecommunications company.

After a brief conversation, the security guards got the driver to open the back door and conducted a border-like inspection of the vehicle.

Apparently satisfied nothing was amiss, the security guards got back into their vehicle and escorted the van through the barricade.

Any non-natives doing business behind the barricades were being stopped and questioned. Like an international border inspection, the procedure usually lasted a matter of seconds, or minutes at most, before they were allowed on their way.

The barriers were installed after the OPP raided the occupation site a week ago and arrested 16 people for violating an injunction ordering them off the property. Protesters say the barriers are needed to protect them, as anger builds at the occupation, now 59 days old.

Last night, for the third time in less than a week, angry Caledonia residents gathered near the blockade to yell at the natives to "Open the road."

But the crowd numbered only about 100, far fewer than had gathered after a big rally in the town.

About two dozen OPP officers separated the crowd from the native protesters and just before 9:30 p.m., nine cruisers rolled through with reinforcements.

The crowd did stop Six Nations resident Cam Hill, 22, as he tried to drive through the barricade to get home, as he had done in the past.

"Take your blockade down," one man yelled at Hill. "I want it down."

"I have no issue with the people of Caledonia," said Hill, who left to find another way home. "This is an issue between our governments."

James Smith, one of the upset residents, said the gathering was a spontaneous event. He said blockading the road was wrong and the protesters should reopen it.

Far away from the barricades, talks to resolve the dispute resumed yesterday and a joint statement was released outlining progress made to date.

The statement said a working group is developing recommendations to resolve the Douglas Creek Estates land issues. That group is to report to a larger group "through which we will work to resolve the issues of the possession, use, development and occupation" of the site.

The statement said the OPP is talking with the Haudenosaunee/Six Nations to improve relations and the hope is all these efforts "would result in the clearing of public roads and provide assurance of the safety of rail lines."

"The parties are moving towards achieving disengagement," Mohawk Chief Allen MacNaughton said after the talks.

Also, for the second day in a row in Vancouver, natives demonstrated in support of the Six Nations protesters.

At the barricades yesterday, at least one motorist, a teenager in a blue pickup truck, was refused entry and turned back. But he was eventually allowed through, after convincing the guard he was working on a school co-op program at Gord's Garage.

Emergency vehicles have been getting through and worshippers at Caledonia Baptist Church had no trouble getting to Sunday services. Police have generally kept a distance behind a cordon of yellow tape about 100 metres away, near the Tim Hortons.

Just a week ago, there was little effort to screen outsiders and strangers often dropped by to chat with protesters around a bonfire near the road. Motorists would also honk and wave as they drove by the entrance of Douglas Creek Estates where a makeshift barrier was erected when native activists moved onto the site Feb. 28.

Native and non-native reporters were also allowed to roam on the site pretty much as they pleased. But since the weekend, only a select group of native reporters have been allowed behind the barricade while non-native reporters have been kept off the site.

On Thistlemoor Avenue, known as "The Back Door", protesters have increased security by building two small walls a few metres apart with rail ties.

A camper that once blocked the entrance has been moved back. Near the camper, the protesters have also put up a make-shift enclosure with camouflage netting on one side, giving the appearance of a military installation.

The new structures partially obscure the view of some of the houses on the site, including a bungalow allegedly looted last week. When a reporter approached the "back door," he was immediately ordered to leave by a young guard who shouted an obscenity.

Protesters say Six Nations never surrendered the land, but Canada and Ontario say it was sold in 1841 to help build the Plank Road -- Highway 6.
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