Sep 1/95: Gustafsen Lake-Historical context


Settlers In Support of Indigenous Sovereignty (S.I.S.I.S.)
September 1, 1995

"The people in the camp are rosy-cheeked, bright-eyed and solid - just really solid people."

So said Dr. Bruce Clark, Shuswap Defenders' counsel, of his visit yesterday to his clients, behind an RCMP assault team encircling indigenous traditionalists defending sacred sundance grounds at Gustafsen Lake.

As Shuswap traditionalists maintain their armed standoff against an RCMP tactical assault force, international outrage and support for the Indians' due process right to an independent and impartial adjudication of their sovereign status is growing.

Yesterday Clark revealed evidence that directly contradicts the RCMP's account of a shooting incident last Sunday. Spent shell casings from the RCMP tactical assault team, a secretly- recorded audio tape of Sunday's events, and a sworn affidavit from an independent journalist inside the camp prove that RCMP initiated the shooting incident on Sunday, "firing directly at the traditionalists' camp".

Nationally syndicated columnist Will Johnson questioned whether or not the alleged shooting of two RCMP officers even took place:

"Something, perhaps my gray hair, tells me that the story of an 'ambush' in a 'hail of bullets' fired by semi-automatic weapons doesn't stand up. When an ambush involves crossfire from two sides on unsuspecting targets - the story told by the Mounties - one would expect that someone would get hurt. If there is no wounded Mountie to photograph and show the pictures of, if there is no bullet-torn clothing to hold up at a press conference, I begin to sense that there is more or less to the "ambush" story than what reporters so confidently reported." (Montreal Gazette, August 29)
Stuart and Francis Dick, caught behind the RCMP siege, walked out of camp on Wednesday and were let go before dawn yesterday. They remain under investigation but, contrary to media reports that the two men had been charged with mischief, the media now reports that no charges have been laid.

BC Attorney-General Ujjal Dosanjh has demanded the Sundancers' unconditional surrender. He continues to reject a peaceful solution based on international adjudication of the traditionalists' sovereignty - continuing to insist that this is simply a police enforcement matter. Rallies and demonstrations worldwide are spreading the news of Canada's illegal invasion of unsurrendered, unceded Indian hunting grounds and attempts to suppress the binding constitutional and international law which established this fact.

All access to the Defenders' camp and sacred sundance grounds is tightly sealed, and all communications to those inside the camp remain in the hands of the RCMP. This cutting off of all outside communications puts the lie to the police claim that they want a peaceful resolution and continues a dangerous and unacceptable practise - and should be protested.

RCMP anti-terrorist experts, psychological consultants, and other security personnel have swollen the anti-native force. As a result the RCMP have taken over an abandoned furniture warehouse as the new RCMP operations centre. Talk of military intervention continues.

Before returning to Ottawa, Dr. Clark advised RCMP that the armed standoff can be solved. "There would be a letter from the Attorney-General of Canada to her Majesty - confirmed by the Canadian Governor-General, acting upon the instructions of the Canadian Privy Council, waiving any objection of Canada, to the Queen addressing the petition dated January 3rd 1995."

This alludes to the due process right of the Indians to an independent and impartial tribunal according to binding international and constitutional law. BC Attorney-General Dosanjh responded "I can tell you that the position of the province is very clear. There shall be no participation in what amounts to criminal and political extortion of the administration of justice in this province at the hands of a few people holed up at this camp who use AK-47s to shoot police officers in their backs. That is how simple it is."

It is obvious to all that Canada is resisting a peaceful solution by simply referring the jurisdictional question to an independent and impartial council. If the matter can be kept internal, Canada's domestic court system can itself continue to decide in favor of itself against the Natives' claim. It is known that the Canadian legal establishment is dominated by several large national and international law partnerships which simultaneously bracket the resource industry from coast to coast.

The federal/provincial conspiracy to usurp indigenous jurisdiction beyond the treaty frontier is well documented. In 1875 Canada's Governor-General Lord Dufferin demanded that the racist renegade BC government cease its illegal annexation of the Indian Territories: "Before we touch an acre, we make a Treaty with the Chiefs representing the Tribes we are dealing with...and not until then do we consider that we are entitled to deal with a single case." For political purposes this prohibition was ignored.

In 1875, the federal Minister of Justice also recommended disallowance of BC's illegal land legislation: "No cession of their territorial rights has ever been executed by the Indian Tribes of the Province...The Indians are not averse to taking up arms to enforce rights which it is impossible to deny them...I can not do otherwise than advise the act is objectionable as tending to deal with lands that are assumed to the absolute property of the province - an assumption which completely ignores the honor and good faith with which the Crown has in all other cases dealt with the various Indian Tribes."

Although the provincial law demanded disallowance, political expedience meant looking the other way, and the federal government fell in with the fraud of the Province of British Columbia. The next year - 1876 - the federal government passed the Indian Act - and thus began the long dark night of genocide which has led to the Gustafsen Lake resistance in the spiritual heart of the sacred Shuswap sundance grounds. This is the dirty secret which provincial Premier Mike Harcourt and Attorney-General Ujjal Dosanjh seek to hide.

The very survival of indigenous nationhood is at stake if Canada's blatant colonialism is not halted immediately. All international human rights organizations, progressives, and media are urged to involve themselves - to force Canada to canvas the international and impartial legal remedies provided for by law.

Demand that the Defenders, these internationally protected Shuswap nationals, be protected by the Paramount Law to which Canada is pledged.

"And whereas it is just and reasonable and essential to our interests...that the several Nations or Tribes of Indians with who we are connected and who live under our protection...shall not be molested or disturbed...[lands] not having been ceded to or purchased by us are reserved to them or any of them as their hunting grounds."
- Royal Proclamation of 1763, incorporated into the existing Constitution of Canada

Phone, write, protest and support! To be silent is to be an accomplice in the destruction.


A sample letter follows the addresses. B.C. Premier Mike Harcourt, who, when briefed by the police early in the crisis, called the Sundancers terrorists.
phone 604-387-1715, fax 604-387-0087

B.C. Attorney General, Ujjal Dosanjh, who denies that this is about Sovereignty, land and culture, not law and order.
phone 604-387-1866, fax 604-387-6411

-------------------- sample letter --------------------

[Thanks to Michael D. Smith, from Men Against Oppression, for text of this letter.]

To: Mike Harcourt, Ujjal Dosanjh

From: (name of organization)


I am writing you to demand that you do everything in your power to ensure a just and peaceful resolution to the current confrontation at Gustafsen Lake. Contrary to the inflammatory images of "terrorists", "thugs", and "lunatics" conjured up by provincial officials, the RCMP, and corporate media, the Defenders there are acting in legitimate defence of sacred, and unceded, Shuswap territory. They took up weapons, and requested assistance from other sovereigntists, only when threatened by armed groups of local whites allied with ranching interests who spoke openly of "lynching red niggers". The campaign of disinformation conducted by the provincial government, RCMP, and media can only be seen as a despicable attempt to prepare public opinion for a massacre.

We demand that in order to foreclose the possibility of a violent solution to the present standoff, you see to it that the following steps are taken immediately:

1) Withdraw all RCMP personnel from the immediate vicinity of the encampment, and guarantee that there will be no RCMP attack on the Defenders.

2) Restore the Defenders' communications links so they have unrestricted access to people outside the camp.

3) Guarantee the Defenders free access to their lawyer, Bruce Clark.

4) Permit delivery of supplies as needed.

5) Agree to meet with the Defenders to discuss their demands.

Supporters of the Defenders of the Shuswap Nation are watching your actions from across Canada, the U.S. and Europe. We hold you accountable.



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