Source of Resistance #3: Gustafsen Lake Chronology


Summer 1997




Before 1492 for thousands of years Native Nations live and govern themselves on this continent.

16th century European settlers begin to arrive, Native land is taken or sold without consent.

1759 After Great Britain's victory, the Native allies demand that the British remove their forts from Native territories. When Britain refuses, Odawa Chief Pontiac forms a Confederacy which proceeds to burn all forts to the ground. The Colonies advise the King to accommodate the Indian Nations before any others decided to join Pontiac and the confederacy resistance.

1763 King George III, to secure peace with Native Nations, issues The Royal Proclamation which explicitly protects unceded (unsurrendered) Indian territories from encroachment by Crown subjects and specifies that nation to nation treaties are the only means of obtaining crown title.

1867 The British Parliament passes The British North American Act creating the Dominion of Canada. Section 129 of the Act confirms that the Canadian government is bound by British Legislation, including The Royal Proclamation of 1763.

1871 The colony of British Columbia joins Canada without consulting any of the Native Nations. The Terms of Union agreement recognizes imperial policy, including The Royal Proclamation of 1763. Europeans are allowed to settle on Native land in direct contravention of this law.

1875 Canadian Parliament passes an order-in-council dated January 23, 1875 whereby Canada acknowledges its constitutional obligation to disallow as unconstitutional all provincial Public Lands Acts that had been enacted (particularly in B.C.) Rather than forcing provinces like B.C. to amend its Lands Acts and to give back any stolen land, the federal government falls in line with the fraud of the province of B.C.

1876 Canada passes the Indian Act> which was applied to unceded "Indian Hunting Grounds." This is in blatant violation of the 1763 Royal Proclamation and Canada's Constitution Act of 1867. From the Indian Act came the Residential Schools and the elected band council system. This imposed system of government undermined the traditional Native systems of Native governance and culture and caused splits in Native Communities.

1884 Canada's Indian Act of 1880 is amended to include specific prohibition of the Potlatch and Tawanawas Sundance. The potlatch reinforced the indigenous status system and the entire social structure in these nations. The government saw abolishing potlatches as a way to assimilate indigenous peoples into the white culture. Native Nations continued to hold the Potlatch regardless of these laws.

1924 Two Shuswap chiefs go to England with two other chiefs to discuss land issues.

1927 The Indian Act is amended, making other ceremonies and the discussion or raising of funds for land claims illegal.

1952 The 1927 bans are repealed.

1982 The Canada and Britain sign the Constitution Act which patriates the Canadian constitution and explicitly recognizes the aboriginal rights stated in the Proclamation of 1763.

1982-present Constitution Act remains unchanged despite government attempts to change it with the Meech Lake Accord and the Charlotte Town Accord. These were both rejected.

1990 The Quebec police force and 4000 military troops are deployed to oppress the Mohawk resistance at Kanehsatake, and Kahnawake.


1989-90 American cattle rancher Lyle James was approached by Shuswap elder, Faith Keeper, Percy Rosette. A four-year agreement was arranged with Lyle James, the cattle rancher who, according to B.C law, has grazing rights on the land, for the site to be used for the Sundance ceremony 10 days every year.

1991-3 William Jones Ignace (Wolverine) takes the issue of stolen unceded lands to the International Court in The Hague and to the United Nations.

1995 Faith Keeper Percy Rosette built a shelter on the Sundance grounds for the maintenance of the site and for cooking and a fence is built to keep cattle from defecating on the sacred grounds. They also posted signs to discourage trespassing.

June 13 Lyle James and twelve ranch hands arrived at the Sundance site in a attempt to verbally serve an eviction notice to the Sundancers at the site. James and his ranch hands 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 the Sundance singers.

June 16 The Sundancers issued a press release with four demands:

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. Than 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, specifically within the Shuswap Nation. The immediate and long term impact of these fraudulent deals on the traditional people must be addressed and acted upon.

3. That an audience with the 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 and express their concern over the potential for violence against the occupiers 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.

June 29 Defenders' counsel Dr. Bruce Clark wrote to Queen Elizabeth II's private secretary to encourage The Right Honorable Sir Robert Fellowes to allow the Queen to see the petition submitted to her on June 5. The petition called for "access to an independent and impartial tribunal" to adjudicate the issue of jurisdiction in lands beyond the treaty frontier.

July The Sundance purifications and ceremonies took place.

July 19 Defenders of the Shuswap Nation issued a press release informing the public that the Defenders would "continue preparations to resist an invasion by the RCMP… any further attempts to forcible invade the Defenders' camp will be met with resistant force."

August and September The RCMP lay siege on the small group of Shuswap traditionalists and allies occupying the Sundance grounds. The largest and costliest RCMP operation in Canadian history with significant army involvement was replete with: state of the art Gulf War military and surveillance technology; three million dollars worth of sophisticated communications equipment; psychological warfare experts and techniques utilized at Waco; and a vicious campaign of demonization, disinformation, and stage-managed provocations calculated to manufacture consent for the murder of 20 men, women, and children resisting a criminal colonialist invasion of unsurrendered traditional Shuswap territory. An estimated 20,000 rounds of ammunition were fired into the defenders' camp.

September 11, 1995 Two defenders went in a truck to the lake for water. Their truck tripped a RCMP land mine, destroying the truck. The people fled for the bush and were pursued and fired upon by RCMP in armored personal carriers. One of the people, a non-Native woman, was shot in the arm. Their dog was shot and killed. This happened in a so-called "no fire zone." An estimated 60 RCMP officers were involved in this incident. Media report that the 'rebels' fired at the police.

September 17, 1995 The defenders voluntarily leave the camp.

September 1995 Wolverine and his son Jojo are held in custody. Jojo is assaulted numerous times in custody and his wrist broken.

September 1995 to present Wolverine, aged 65 years, remains in custody for the pre-trial period, trial, and sentencing.

Fall 1995 The defendants were prohibited from communicating with each other. Many defendants were also denied representation of their counsel of choice, Dr. Bruce Clark. Clark is a leading authority on the precedents and statutes which establish that non-Native authority over non-treaty Indian territory is constitutionally fraudulent, treasonous, and constitutes genocide. For bringing up this law, Clark was charged with contempt of court, arrested, dragged before a judge in shackles and leg irons, and committed to a mental hospital for a forced psychiatric evaluation. He was pronounced mentally sound. He has been barred from practicing law in B.C.

July 1996-May 1997 The longest criminal trial in the history of Canada is held in the maxium security courtroom in Surrey B.C., a day's travel from the Defenders' homes. The trial reveals countless lies told by the RCMP and the media. Among the things exposed was that the RCMP planned and orchestrated, in their own words, "a smear campaign" against the defenders. As well, tens of thousands rounds were fired at the defenders.

May 1997 Wolverine is acquitted of attempted murder but is found guilty of mischief causing danger to life, possession of firearms and explosive devices, discharging a firearm at peace officers, and using a firearm to assault peace officers. Jojo and two other defenders are acquitted of all charges. 10 people are found guilty of mischief to property and nothing else. One person was found guilty of mischief causing actual danger to life and possession of firearms and explosive devices. Two people were found guilty of mischief causing actual danger to life and possession of firearms. And one person was found guilty of mischief.

June 1997 100's of Native and non-Native supporters gather outside the court house for each trial date, singing, dancing, talking and praying. The judge continues to prolong the trial by putting off sentencing till July or later.

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