The spectre of a deadly standoff that scarred Ontario's conscience 11 years ago sprang back to life Thursday as police mounted a dramatic pre-dawn raid against a group of native protesters staking their claim to a disputed tract of land.
No sooner had police arrested 16 protesters in the early-morning darkness, hundreds more members of the nearby Six Nations reserve scrambled to the scene to take up their defence of land they say was stolen from them more than two centuries ago.
"We're not asking for anything more than what belongs to us," said Six Nations member Buddy Martin, who was among the hundreds of protesters taking up residence on the land.
The dispute was eerily reminiscent of the 1995 clash at Ipperwash Provincial Park, where a police sniper took the life of protester Dudley George, touching off a controversy that continues to this day.
"We, unfortunately, are in the situation where we have no negotiating power, if you will - we are caught in the middle of this situation," provincial police deputy commissioner Maurice Pilon told a news conference.
As nightfall neared, a busload of supporters from other Ontario reserves arrived on the scene, and more were expected through the night at a tent city which had begun to resemble a makeshift refugee camp dotted with Mohawk flags.