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Indians Block Rail Line Despite Police Action

August 22, 1990 GMT

MOUNT CURRIE, British Columbia (AP) _ Police have arrested about 40 Indians blocking a rail line, but another group of natives set up another blockade within hours further down the tracks.

The premier of this Canadian province, Bill Vander Zalm, condemned the second blockade Tuesday, called because of a dispute over land claims.

″I would suggest they are doing harm and they should cease, desist and avoid the sort of confrontational issues this could lead to,″ he said.

Earlier Tuesday, police arrested about 40 Indians at Seton Portage for defying a provincial Supreme Court injunction ordering them to end their blockade of British Columbia Rail’s main line.

Those arrested included three chiefs - Marvin Bob of the Pavilion band, Rod Louie of Seton Lake and Roger Adolph of the Fountain band - all part of the Stl’atl’imx nation. The Stl’atl’imx, unhappy with British Columbia’s response to their land claims proposals, had asked the police inspector to charge the provincial government with the theft of their land.

Those arrested at Seton Portage were taken to Lillooet, about 100 miles northeast of Vancouver. They were to be released on their own recognizance after being charged with disobeying a court order, authorities said.

When the first blockade was removed, two freight trains bound for Prince George continued a journey stalled since Friday, when the blockade began.

But before a southbound train had gone far, Indians from the Lillooet People’s Movement blocked the line on Indian land near Mount Currie, about 60 miles southwest of Seton Portage, said Ray Pierre, manager of the Mount Currie Indian band.

Pierre said the line will be blocked for at least 24 hours.

The BC Rail line runs between Vancouver and Prince George. The railroad said it was losing more than $635,000 a day because of the blockade. BC Rail obtained the Supreme Court injunction Saturday.

The blockade also was in support Mohawks in Oka, Quebec, who have been in an armed standoff with police and the armed forces since July 11.

The dispute arose over the Oka community’s plans to expand a golf course onto what the Mohawks said was ancestral land. A police attempt to remove a Mohawk barricade led to the shooting death of an officer, but responsibility in the death remains to be established.

Karistanoran, a Mohawk spokesman, said proposals now call for full sovereignty in all Mohawk communities in Canada.