The Malheur Wildlife Refuge center occupiers have reportedly come under attack not by the FBI or a local sheriff, but by PETA and a Native American tribe. Ammon Bundy, Blaine Cooper, and the other anti-BLM protesters who have taken up residence at the federal facility on public lands are being chastised by leaders of the Burns Paiute tribe for occupying land they feel belongs to them.
The Malheur militants, as they have come to be called by various media outlets, converged upon the wildlife center not to take hostages or to vandalize property, but to take what they feel is a stand for the Constitution and the rights guaranteed in the founding documents. An ongoing battle between western ranchers and the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) nearly came to a head during the Cliven Bundy ranch standoff in Nevada last year. Ammon Bundy is one of the veteran rancher’s sons.
— CNN (@CNN) January 6, 2016
The decision to take over the Malheur Wildlife Refuge was taken, at least in part, to protest the imprisonment of rancher Dwight Hammond and his son, Steven Hammond. The men were sent to jail for one year after being convicted of burning on federal land. The father and son were concerned that overgrown brush near their property was going to spark wildfires that would destroy both their home and their livelihood. Due to minimum sentencing laws, a judge ordered the Hammond men to return to prison for four more years.
“The protesters have no claim to this land. It belongs to the native people who continue to live here,” Burns Paiute tribal chair Charlotte Rodrique told the media during a press conference on Wednesday. Rodrique cited a treaty, which was reportedly not ratified in Washington, D.C., to solidify the tribe’s ownership of the wildlife sanctuary. The treaty of 1868 says that the federal government guaranteed, among other things, the safety and protection of the tribe members in exchange for a transfer of land ownership.
Oregon Pauite trip say Malheur Refuge occupiers are desecrating the land https://t.co/NUNHA4laAk
— Baldr Odinson (@BaldrOdinson1) January 6, 2016
The United States Senate did not ratify the treaty, which voided the property ownership agreement, Rodrique maintains. The land covered in the treaty stretched from the Blue Mountains in Oregon to the Cascade Range in portions of California, Nevada and Idaho.
“The Burns Paiute Tribe has not ceded any of its rights in the tribe’s ancestral territory. They wanted us to give up our land. We never did it. We never gave up our aboriginal rights. We did have a treaty but it wasn’t ratified, so therefore it was a contract that was never completed. And so we, as a tribe, view that this is still our land.”
Bundy Demonstration For Hammonds against BLM FEDS Today in Burns Oregon 11º F Outside pic.twitter.com/omBjaHgmpe
— ★Longfellow Ragoczy★ (@LRagoczy) January 2, 2016
Burns Paiute tribal councilman Jarvis Kennedy stated that he wanted Ammond Bundy and his friends off the disputed land immediately.
“Harney County residents don’t need some clown to come in here and stand up for us. We survived without them before and we’ll survive without them when they’re gone. So they should get the hell out of here. Sorry, but we didn’t ask them here. We don’t want them here.”
Supporters of what Bundy, Cooper, and the other Citizens for Constitutional Freedom during the BLM protest brought food and snacks for them to enjoy during the occupation. The roads to the wildlife center reportedly remain open. After some locals and ranchers reportedly brought a freezer full of meat, soup, and other snacks, PETA got involved in the national headline-grabbing standoff.
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals had vegan jerky delivered to Malheur, along with a note which read, “The End of Animal-Based Ag Is Nigh: GET OUT NOW!” Even though the ranchers and their supporters are not likely to stop enjoying a thick juicy steak anytime soon, they did gratefully accept the delivery of vegan jerky. According to a PETA representative, at least one of the men said that he does enjoy non-meat treats and said the hickory smoked primal strip jerky was delicious and tasted a lot like salmon.
The Malheur occupation went into day four today. Rumors that the FBI had issued warrants for the arrest of Ammon Bundy, Blaine Cooper, and the others hunkered down for the duration on the public land, were widely-ciculated earlier this week. The FBI has not yet issued any warrants, a move some feel is due to the vivid and bloody memories of the Waco compound and Ruby Ridge raids. At least some of the BLM protesters camped out in Burns, Oregon are armed.
What do you think about the Malheur occupation by the Citizens for Constitutional Freedom, the land ownership claims by the Burns Paiute tribe, and the vast amount of land governed by the BLM?
[Image via AP Photo/Rick Bowmer]