By Red Power Media, Staff
Tribal council’s Sergeant-at-Arms says Bundy’s Militia not wanted
The leader of an Native American tribe whose ancestral land is being occupied by a small, group of self-styled militiamen, opposed to federal land policy said the occupiers aren’t welcome and must leave.
The Burns Paiute tribe was the latest group to speak out against the armed men, who have taken several buildings at a wildlife refuge in Oregon, to protest policies governing the use of federal land in the West.
“The protesters have no right to this land. It belongs to the native people who live here,” tribal leader Charlotte Rodrique said.
Video: The leader of an Oregon Paiute Indian tribe joined the chorus of local residents calling for the armed militia camped out at a local federal wildlife refuge to give up their fight and go home..
She spoke at a news conference on Wednesday at the tribe’s cultural center, about half-hour drive from Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, which is being occupied by some 20 men led by Ammon Bundy, whose father Cliven was at the center of a standoff in Nevada with federal officials in 2014 over use of public lands.
Bundy is demanding that the refuge be “returned” to the people of Harney County.
Rodrique says that she is “offended by occupiers’ statements about returning the land to its rightful owners,” OPB, Amanda Peacher reports.
“You know, who are the rightful owners?” says Rodrique. “It just really rubs me the wrong way that we have a bunch of misinformed people in here — they’re not the original owners.”
The tribe once occupied a large swath of land that includes the Malheur National Wildlife refuge — archaeological evidence dates back 6,000 years — but they were forced out in the late 1870s.
The tribal council’s Sergeant-at-Arms Jarvis Kennedy took a much more direct approach towards the occupiers (see video above), saying “They just need to get the hell out of here, I’m sorry. Because we didn’t ask them here. We don’t want them here.”
“We as Harney County residents don’t need some clown to come in here and stand up for us,” he said.
Rodrique and Kennedy said the Paiute people spent their winters in the area long before settlers, ranchers and trappers arrived.
Rodrique says the tribe signed a federal treaty in 1868 and expected the government to honor the agreement to protect their interests, though the U.S. Senate never approved it.
Despite the tribe’s request for the protesters to leave the refuge, one of groups leaders told BuzzFeed News they had no intention of leaving at the moment, though he called the tribe’s role in the issue important.
“When it comes to the tribes, I actually have some native blood in me,” LaVoy Finicum told BuzzFeed News. “Those claims are important, but you must make a claim, you must have continual use of the land, and you must defend it.”
He said ranchers continued to have rights to the land, and that the group occupying the refuge would continue to demand them.
“If we ranchers lose our rights, we’ll go the way of all Indians,” he told BuzzFeed News.
The motley militia, which calls itself Citizens for Constitutional Freedom, started the now five-day occupation of the refuge near Burns, operated by the US Fish and Game Service; after staging a rally on behalf of two local ranchers who were imprisoned on federal arson charges.
Authorities had not yet moved to oust the group, but the Bundys and militia members reportedly begun taking defensive positions in preparation for a raid, blockading a nearby road with government vehicles.
“The (FBI) has assured me that those at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge will at some point face charges,” Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward told NBC News. A representative for the FBI, told MSNBC there is “no information regarding arrests” and said he could not confirm Ward’s assertion.
According to Reuters, authorities have been told to avoid a violent confrontation, in line with official U.S. policy after deadly clashes in the 1990s, said three Obama administration officials.
Clashes in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1992 and Waco, Texas, in 1993 turned violent and dozens of people were killed. Since then, the FBI and other agencies have adopted more patient, flexible tactics, stressing negotiation over confrontation.