In the summer of 1995 in British Colombia interior, Ts’petan defenders and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police had a standoff over a land dispute that resulted in one of the largest and most costly operations in Canadian military history. For years prior to the incident, indigenous groups gathered every July for the Sun Dance ceremony on land owned by rancher Lyle James. James was at first accommodating the ceremony, but that changed in 1995 when preparing for the ceremony, the group mounted a fence to keep James cattle out of the ceremonial ground. James and his (allegedly racist and confrontational) farm hands served an eviction notice to the Sun Dancers, not allowing them to hold their annual ceremony.
Peace talks ensued but each side refused to budge on who rightfully owned the land. The Sun Dancers ignored the eviction notice and mounting tensions between James and the indigenous community boiled over in numerous skirmishes with James ranch hands and undercover RCMP officers. The BC Attorney General Ujjal Dosanjh took the side of Lyle James, saying he was the rightful owner of the property. To settle the dispute, the RCMP sent in an unprecedented 400+ police officers, tactical assault team members, helicopters, surveillance planes and tanks. The RCMP used a staggering 77,000 rounds of ammunition against the small group. The 31 day standoff finally ended peacefully but not after a total cost of 5.5 million dollars to Canadian tax payers.
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