OKA, QUEBEC, AUG. 30 -- As negotiators continue to search for a peaceful solution to the nine-week standoff here between heavily armed Mohawk warriors and Canadian authorities, Indians behind ramshackle barriers say they are preparing for war.

At their front-line barricade -- an overturned car, concrete blocks and tree trunks heaped across Route 344 at the edge of what the Indians say is ancestral land -- masked, combat-equipped Mohawk men stand watch against an army assault. A few hundred yards away, behind a second defensive line, Mohawk women steel themselves for the worst.

"We are living in a war zone, so we are preparing for war," said Linda Simon, the non-Mohawk director of education on the Mohawks' Kahnesatake Reservation who has chosen to remain among the 300 Indians within the fortified zone.

Simon shares the pessimistic view of most Indians here that the hundreds of tank-supported Canadian army troops massing in the area will attack if negotiations fail and that there is likely to be bloodshed.

Quebec Premier Robert Bourassa declared late tonight that the talks had failed and renewed his order that troops clear the barricades, news agencies reported.

A band of Mohawks from a different reservation agreed Wednesday to abandon barricades there at a bridge over the St. Lawrence River that links Montreal with its suburbs, but the Mohawks here say they will stand and fight if their demand for official recognition as a sovereign nation is not met.

At a press conference today, 50 Mohawk women from behind the barricades said they support completely the actions of the armed warriors, whom they described as dedicated family men. "These men are here to protect our people, our land and our heritage. . . . They are not terrorists," said Brenda Gabriel, a spokeswoman for the group.

Rather than urging the men to back down, the women said they are planning ways to cope with an even longer standoff or, in the worst case, casualties. A food bank has been set up with supplies for a week -- many of these smuggled around the army and police cordon by boat across the St. Lawrence.

But if the confrontation continues beyond that, the situation will become critical, Simon said. The last food to reach the embattled Indians was 20 loaves of bread brought in by clergymen last weekend, just before Bourassa declared talks with the Indians at an impasse and ordered the army to tear down the barricades.

The women said they also are trying to establish a neutral zone where any wounded could be treated by Red Cross workers should fighting break out. Army spokesman Capt. Yvon Desjardins said the army would be happy to allow the Red Cross to help, but he stressed that the military is hoping for a peaceful settlement. "Our mandate is to dismantle the barricade, hopefully without violence," he said.

Bourassa's announcement tonight ended hopes that a last-ditch resumption of talks at a nearby hotel might lead quickly to peaceful removal of the barricade, which the Indians built in July to block expansion of a golf course onto what they view as ancestral land.

That issue was settled last month when the government agreed to buy the land and cede it to the Mohawks, but the Indians seized the situation to air a much wider range of grievances against the government, including the demand for sovereignty.

But if the army moves to disperse the Mohawks by force, they will find the Route 344 barricade only the first obstacle in a layered defense. Hidden in nearby Pine Hill Cemetery and among the woods that flank the roadway, the Mohawks lie in wait, many armed with AK-47 automatic assault rifles, some with mortars and grenades. The army says the Indians also have laid mines and booby traps, but the Mohawk defenders would not comment on this.

Farther along the road, another barricade has been created of earthen mounds and three burned-out police cars, destroyed by the Indians July 11 when they repulsed a police assault on their position that left one officer dead.

"This place holds the key to everything," Mohawk warrior Dan David said earlier this week. "Everybody knows that this is where it started, and this is where it will end."

"We're going to be here when {the army} gets here," said an armed 20-year-old Mohawk who calls himself Hunter. He said a decision on how to react to an army assault would be made at the last minute.

The army has said it will not fire first under any circumstances. The Mohawks have said they will not fire first.