Jun 17/95: Gustafsen Lake-Defenders press release


June 17, 1995

From the Shuswap Nation, Gustafsen Lake. On 13 June 1995, at approximately 1:40 p.m. Mr. Lyle James trespassed on Sacred Burial and Sundance Grounds. He brought with him four trucks with approximately twelve men. Mr. James' intention was an attempted at serving an illegal notice of eviction, by 12:00 p.m. of the same day, to Mr. Percy Rosette. This first notice was read to, and subsequently appropriated by, an outside independent party due to the absence of Mr. Rosette.

Mr. James of James Cattle Co., then proceeded to occupy these sacred grounds, and sent several men to film and photograph the land, structures and artifacts. They also filmed and violated the sacred fast of one of our Sundance Singers. We were unable to protest as were only four men and rifles were seen in the rear windows of the trucks.

At approximately 3:00 p.m., five of Mr. James' men advised us they were 'reclaiming' a wood stove from our cookhouse. They removed the door to the house as well. We were again unable to protest.

Upon Mr. Rosette's return, at approximately 7:00 p.m., Mr. James again attempted to serve his illegal notice. Mr. Rosette refused to accept this illegal notice, so Mr. James had one of his men place it on a Sacred Staff. This second notice was again appropriated by the above-mentioned outside party. The James Cattle Co., owners of approximately 2000 head of cattle, initiated the aforementioned incidents n response to signs posted to discourage trespassers on Indian land and a fence that had been reinforced by the natives to keep the cattle off the Sacred Grounds.

Mr. James claims to have deeds to these lands, issued by the Department of Indian Affairs (DIA), yet has failed to produce any documentation, only shows of force.

A public forum was held at the Williams Lake Indian Long house on 9- 10 October, 1993 in order to discuss how this issue affected the annual Sundance. Mr. Lyle James, the RCMP, the Minister of Indian Affairs, and the concerned media were all invited. Instead of attending, the concerned parties held a meeting among themselves, came to a decision and signed an agreement regarding these issues, and sent a letter on RCMP letterhead, dated 16 September 1993, informing Mr. Rosette that a decision had been agreed upon without his involvement. This decision was never verified by any parties. It is speculated that Mr. James is involved in criminal activities with the Federal Government involving illegal land brokerage. On 15 June 1995, a group appointed themselves as mediators, without Mr. Rosette's consent, and spoke with Mr. James and then brought word to us that we should ask to meet with him. They also informed us that threats were voiced, specifically in regard to having us physically removed by 17 June 1995. This group then left the grounds, failing to make contact with Mr. Rosette.

The most recent incident took place at 6:00 p.m. on 16 June 1995 when a lone ranch hand came into the Sundance grounds, yelling and whooping in a drunken stupor. He was confronted by the men of the camp and when asked what he was doing in Shuswap territory, he stated emphatically that the ranchers intended to burn the council lodge and that the RCMP were planning an invasion of the camp. Given the prevailing mood of violence against the Defenders of the Land and Sacred Sundance ceremonies, we are declaring that force will be met with resistant force. Our demands for a Peaceful resolution are as follows:

1) That an investigation of the Governor General's Office in Ottawa be undertaken to expose the illegal leasing and/or selling of Native lands on unceded territory.

2) That an investigation into the DIA and all cohorts in the various band councils be undertaken to expose illegal leasing and/or selling of Native lands.

3) That an audience with Queen of England and the Privy Council be convened to renew the treaty obligations of the Royal Proclamation of 1763, which states that all unceded territories will remain unmolested and undisturbed.

4) That every individual reading this urgent Press Release is asked to call the RCMP at (604) 395 2456 and express their concern over the potential for violence against the occupants of the Sundance grounds in Shuswap territory. We invite all Sundancers to come to Gustafson Lake and ensure that this Sundance will be held as planned to sustain our inheritance and religious freedom. Donations of food, camouflage clothing, radio and communications equipment, camping gear, etc. are welcome and appreciated.


The Defenders of the Shuswap Nation

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