British Columbia Showdown Ends Calmly; Ontario Standoff Continues
TORONTO (AP) _ A medicine man helped end a month-long armed standoff between Indian rebels and police in British Columbia, but a second showdown continued today at an Ontario park where one Indian protester has been killed.
The confrontations have underscored the difficulties facing federal and provincial authorities as they try to deal with scores of territorial claims by native groups across Canada.
Many younger Indians view confrontation as the only effective tactic, and use militant protests to pressure their tribal leaders as well as on government authorities.
The last 12 holdouts at the Gustafsen Lake encampment in south-central British Columbia were in jail facing charges after mediators from the Shuswap tribe escorted them into police custody Sunday.
Shuttled by helicopter to 100 Mile House from the police base near the occupied ranchland, the militants trudged in handcuffs to waiting police cars as supporters cheered and raised clenched firsts.
The 12, including four non-Indians, were expected to be charged with trespassing.
More serious charges could be filed against some of the protesters, depending on the outcome of investigations into several shootings during the standoff. Last month, two Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers were hit in the back but saved by bullet-proof vests.
The breakthrough came Sunday when John Stevens, an Indian spiritual leader from southern Alberta, visited the camp.
Stevens is leader of the Gustafsen Lake sundance, a plains Indian ceremony held annually on the Lyle James ranch since 1990. James had allowed the ceremonies, but called in police this year when the Indians refused to leave and allegedly fired at a ranch hand.
In Ontario, Chippewas occupying a provincial park said their protest would continue, but they offered to allow police onto their camp today to collect forensic evidence linked to the shooting death of a protester.
``They’re not prepared to leave,″ said Bob Bressette, acting chief of the Kettle and Stony Point band. ``But they’re going to back off and let the investigation happen.″
Provincial police are looking for bullets and other clues to lay charges of attempted murder against Indians they say fired at police Sept. 6, the night protester Dudley George was killed.
Police also will investigate the Indians’ claims that officers opened fire as protesters were retreating.
The breakaway group began its occupation two weeks ago in the tiny park northwest of London, Ontario, on the shores of Lake Huron. They claim it is the site of a sacred burial ground.
The province denied that claim, but has promised to examine federal documents uncovered last week that appear to back Indians’ contention.
Native Indians and Inuits make up about 1.2 million of Canada’s 29 million people.