Okanagan Indians call off blockade of skins game

The Okanagan Indian band said Friday it was calling off a blockade that threatened to disrupt the this weekend's Export A Skins Game here.

The band had threatened to set up a roadblock outside the Predator Ridge course over demands for a new federal negotiator in its land claim, which includes the golf course.

Band Chief Dan Wilson canceled the blockade after getting a fax from federal Indian Affairs Minister Robert Nault agreeing to a meeting with the First Nation.

The two-day invitational Skins Game features Canadian Mike Weir, as well as Fred Couples, Sergio Garcia and Phil Mickelson battling for a $360,000 total purse.

Only two routes lead into the golf course and about 5,000 people are expected to attend the competition, which includes an 18-hole celebrity round on Sunday, followed by the Skins Game on Monday and Tuesday.

The Okanagan band of southern British Columbia was upset at a reported lack of progress in the 10-year-old land claim. It maintains that Predator Ridge, a links-style public course ranked No. 17 on Score Magazine's recent list of the top 100 courses in Canada, is built in the middle of a 10,000-hectare parcel of land claimed by the natives.

Wilson wants current federal negotiator Peter Vranjkovic replaced, arguing he is stalling the talks.