Trial, Week 2: Summary - July 17


WEEK 2: JULY 15 - 19, 1996

   * Day 5: Monday, July 15                * Day 8: Thursday, July 18
   * Day 6: Tuesday, July 16               * Day 9: Friday, July 19 
   * Day 7: Wednesday, July 17


Edited by Roz Royce and Trond Halle, from notes by Trond Halle (Defendant)

Posted by FreeMedia - see also FreeMedia's account of Week Two

WEDNESDAY, JULY 17, 1996 - DAY 7

Judge Josephson ruled against releasing Jonesy (Wolverine) Ignace from jail today, agreeing with the Crown's argument that there have been no significant changes. (See notes from July 15, 1996 for more details of bail review.)

Jonesy addressed the judge and told him that although "you say there are no changes, the Crown has withheld disclosures." He reminded the judge that the court is based on the rule of law and on constitutional law and asked, "What's the point of having it, if we can't use it? Is it just greed? When do we get heard? When all the resources are taken off the land?" He said that two things have to happen to legally acquire the land: there has to be a treaty and it must be purchased. But no treaties have been made. "Canada doesn't have the right to make treaties", he said, referring to the illegal BC Treaty Commission. He reminded the judge that "there is unfinished business here" and questioned him as to "how can you judge me when you sit on stolen land." He concluded by insisting, once again, that a third party tribunal is the only way to deal with the land issue. "Only when the Queen is involved, will we have some justice."

The jury entered, but Lyle James was late. As soon as the jury left, James entered and the jury was brought back in. Harry Rankin then continued his cross- examination of James. He clarified that the Sundance Arbor and "buildings" (a cabin) are on Lot 114, which is 160 acres (less a 28 acre portion that goes into the lake. James didn't know who the owner was of that portion by the lake, but remembered that the previous owner was "Canning".) James testified that no survey had ever been done by him and that he wasn't sure if he had ever seen survey markers there, nor on the Lot adjacent to the west side of Lot 114. He mentioned that skidders were used to log Lot 114, and that they often tore up an area after it was logged. Although James agreed that it wasn't too expensive to survey a lot, and admitted that a survey is necessary when buying or selling land today, he still didn't think it was necessary to survey Lot 114. Despite the lack of survey stakes though, James was certain that the land had been surveyed. James continued in his stubborn manner by insisting on referring to his grazing rights in "animal units" rather than in acres. "We're not talking about payment to the government, we're talking about territory," said an exasperated Harry Rankin. James finally testified that he has Fee Simple Title of 91 different Lots, totaling roughly 18,000 acres (varying in size from 640 acres to 2 acres), in addition to grazing rights to 250,000 to 300,000 acres of Crown land. It may have no bearing on the innocence of the Defenders, but James revealed these interesting facts about his land deals: for $20,000 he purchased 20 to 25 acres from the Crown on land where the American government had once set up an old airport near Williams Lake. In the last 15 years, James bought a small ranch for his son to live on. This land was released through the CORE (Commission on Resources and the Environment) process and was available to ranchers who already leased land.

After Rankin finished raising doubt about Lyle James' "ownership" of Lot 114, Sheldon Tate moved on to other matters, exposing James's "selective" memory and "confrontational" character. James first admitted that after giving yesterday's testimony, he remembered that he did know Percy Rosette from before. James' son had reminded him that Percy had worked on the ranch, but James couldn't remember him.

James had no "direct knowledge" of many events, but believed the hearsay of his cowboys, family and neighbours, as well as his own assumptions about "incidents". All incidents described between 1989-'93 came from other sources. He had heard by word of mouth that non-natives were not allowed on the Sundance grounds.

James referred to an "incident" of a tent being shot at and while the judge reminded the jury that the incident had nothing to do with the accused, James admitted that he associated the incident with the Sundance ceremony. "Are you aware that two white people were arrested and questioned about the shooting of the tent?", asked Tate. James replied, "Yes, but I don't believe that." The jury appeared quite amazed at his honest, albeit biased response. Regarding incidents involving his own ranch hands, he insisted that neither he nor his ranch hands had any confrontations with native people, but admitted that he preferred to believe his ranch hands' claims of innocence over the natives. In any case, he didn't see any of the incidents as confrontations. Harry Rankin asked him "if a drunk comes into the camp hollering obscenities in a volatile situation, isn't that confrontational?" James replied, "it's not confrontational - it's an irritant".

James couldn't remember the names of lawyers or when he first contacted them about moving the Sundance ceremony off "his property". He testified that the first involvement of his solicitors was in 1993 just before a meeting in July 1993 that had been initiated by the RCMP at the 100 Mile House Detachment. He referred to an agreement (Exhibit #132) that his lawyers drafted up for him to sign - an "agreement" that didn't have his signature on it, that had an "X" beside Percy's name and no signatures beside the witnesses' names. James explained the lack of his own signature as an oversight. "It wasn't intentional", he said, "simply overlooked". He didn't think it was important because he was happy with the agreement. James didn't remember what Percy said at that meeting (or even if he spoke), but he remembered people shaking his hand at the end and that Percy put his "X" on the document. (James's memory was very clear though concerning his first meeting with Percy in 1989 when Percy threatened to "pull the Indian Act" on him. - See notes from July 16, 1996.)

James refused to admit that the land was disputed or that Percy had raised the issue at the July, 1993 meeting. James admitted that he tore down signs that said "this is Indian land", but that the signs never asserted in his mind that the land was contested. He denied that Percy ever told him it was sacred Indian land and that he wasn't aware of the sacredness of the site until the "agreement" was written up in 1993. He disagreed with Tate's suggestion that Percy had told him that they were going to have their ceremonies there because it is Indian land, and instead referred to paragraph 4 of the "agreement" stating that the "property is private property owned by the Company." He insisted that, before 1995, no claim had ever been made that the land was Indian land, but acknowledged that there are three "claims" to that land. He insisted that Percy never asked for the deed to the land, even at the meeting in 1993, but earlier testified that he had no memory of Percy saying anything at that meeting. He stated that the RCMP asked for the deed and his solicitors gave them a copy. Tate then entered as an exhibit a trespass notice which James' lawyer at Ladner Downs prepared in February, 1995, a copy of which was sent to the RCMP. The events of June 13, 1995 were then cross-examined. James testified that he had spoken to Cpl. Hicks at the crossroads of the 1000 Forestry Road and the Lakeshore Road before giving the notice. Hicks was with Cst. Wood and Andrew, but the three officers didn't go to the camp with James and soon left because Percy wasn't there. James then proceeded to the camp in an attempt to serve Percy an eviction notice with a deadline time that had already passed, making it impossible for Percy to comply.

Although James had brought 10 people with him as witnesses, he also had the "eviction process" videotaped by his son, who selectively didn't videotape ranch hands "playing" with a bullwhip, or removing a stove and door from the cabin. James claimed the stove had been stolen from the "cow camp", but had never reported it stolen before because it was still on "his land". The stove had no identification and Percy wasn't there to dispute the removal of it. James also said that he produced the deed during the eviction process (which wasn't videotaped) and that he had shown it many times before.

Tate made it clear that the steps required to remove a person from your land were: 1) serve a written trespass notice (if ignored go to #2); 2) go to court and obtain a court order or injunction ordering the removal of the people and allow them to be heard in a court of law. When it was suggested that none of these steps involved forcible removal, and that the only second step was to get a court order, James became very defensive. He claimed that his solicitors and the RCMP told him that the first step was to serve an eviction notice. After that failed on June 13, 1995, the only next step was to go to court, but James never applied for a court order. He denied that he had said he would evict the Sundancers himself because of the legal costs, but admitted that his solicitors and senior police officers had told him he had to go to court. He couldn't remember the names of any police officers telling him that the second step was to physically remove people so that the police could come in, but insisted that that was what he was told, possibly by his solicitor. "Did you ever apply to a court for an order?", asked Mr. Tate. "No, that's not the first step you take," replied James. "After you served the eviction notice, did you apply for a court order?", questioned Tate. "No, because things got out of hand," James stated. He eventually recalled that the police had told him to get a court order for removal, but that he didn't get one because he never had a chance. Tate reminded him that he had years. No written document had been given to Percy after the July 1993 "agreement" nor did James make any effort to remove Percy or resolve the situation until June 13, 1995.

He insisted that matters were out of his hands following June 13, 1995 because he got a new lawyer. Sometime after June, he fired his Vancouver lawyer and retained a lawyer from 100 Mile House to look into a court order. He claimed it was his lawyer's idea to remove people "because it was my land". Tate suggested that Keray Camille warned him not to throw the people off the land and James became quite defensive again. "Where did you get that information?" he demanded of Tate. James didn't want to admit if there were discussions with his family about this issue. "That's private - it's not relevant," he informed Tate. He admitted that Keray Camille, his son-in-law, is a councilor with the Canoe Creek Band, but claimed that the Band had no direct involvement with the issues until the standoff ensued.

Tate argued that Lyle James did not take legal and peaceful measures to resolve the matter when Percy Rosette had made it clear that these were sacred Indian lands. James ignored the issue and the advice of his lawyers and the RCMP, escalating the "tension" with his "illegal" eviction notice. Why didn't he proceed with a civil suit? He had the deed, he had the eviction notice, what prevented him from pursuing this legally? All Lyle James could say, over and over again as a defense, was that "it was out of my hands". Tate tried to find out why and when it got out of his hands and instead suggested that James could have averted this if he had gone to court in a civilized manner and allowed the matter to be heard by both parties.

As soon as George Wool stood up to begin his questioning, the jury started to smile. It appears that after watching five lawyers for the past seven days, the jury has selected Wool as their "popular" choice. After Wool cross-examined Lyle James it was clear that although James has lived in the middle of the Canoe Creek Reserve for over 20 years, he knows nothing about the native history of the area. He did know that the lake was man-made and that the Camille family had built a dam for irrigation in the 1930's in co-operation with the Canoe Creek Band. He also knew that Lot 114 was created about 100 years ago, that the original Lot was given by the B.C. government to Nils Gustafsen, that Gustafsen applied for 160 acres under that Lot and that Gustafsen sold the Lot in the 1930's to a cattle company.

Wool then showed James a government document dated May 1887 titled "Sale of Unsurveyed Land". It noted Gustafsen's property was at the end of a lake, but there was no "Gustafsen Lake" at the time - there was only Dog Creek before the lake was made. Wool pointed to Deep Lake, NW of Gustafsen Lake on the aerial photo, then pointed out that Gustafsen's property was on Neilson Lake, SE of Gustafsen Lake. It was the first time James had ever seen this document. Although he said he had researched the Lot, James never checked the archives in Victoria for this document from 1887. No lawyer ever suggested to him that he check into the history of this property. No RCMP officers ever told him to check if the land was his. No one ever challenged him before that his 160 acres wasn't at Gustafsen, but rather at Deep Lake. No media ever challenged him. He admitted that he knows David Archie as a respected, honest band manager at Canoe Creek and a historian of the area, but he didn't know that Archie gave the RCMP a history of the area. He knew of the devastating effects of smallpox from living among the Canoe Creek people, but he didn't know of any graveyard at the Sundance grounds. Even when Wool pointed out the graveyard site by pointing out the mounds in the photo, James wasn't sure that they were mounds. "You'd have to go there to see", he said. He wasn't aware that this area was a crossing point for the Canoe Creek people, that the area was populated in the late 1800's and early 1900's by natives and that there was a church in the area. Finally, he wouldn't admit that the Sundance ceremonies at the Arbor were "legitimate". "Depends on how you look at it," he stated.

Lyle James finished his testimony with the assertion that the "Sundance is not a tradition of the Shuswap people." Wool had him repeat this and a few jury members had smirks on their faces. The irony wasn't lost that this cattle rancher from Montana who knew little about the native history of the area was nevertheless confident about making such an uninformed statement about the Shuswap people.

   * Day 5: Monday, July 15                * Day 8: Thursday, July 18
   * Day 6: Tuesday, July 16               * Day 9: Friday, July 19 
   * Day 7: Wednesday, July 17