Thursday, January 07, 2016

Burns Paiute Indian tribe to armed protesters who want land given back to locals: 'We were here first'

While armed protesters in Oregon say they want the federal government to hand ownership of land over to ranchers and local governments—who they say the land rightfully belongs to—the Burns Paiute Indian said if anyone should get the property back, it should be them, Kirk Johnson reports for The New York Times. The tribe says protesters are ignorant of the land's history and that "their ancestors were roaming the still wild and empty reaches of what is now called the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge perhaps as long as 15,000 years ago." (Native American Tribes of Oregon map: Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is located in southeastern Oregon)

Tribal chairwoman Charlotte Rodrique told reporters, “Don’t tell me any of these ranchers came across the Bering Strait. We were here first. We’d like the public to acknowledge that.” Other tribe members called the protesters a public menace and an insult to the local people. Tribal council member Jarvis Kennedy told reporters, “We as Harney County residents don’t need some clown coming in here to stand up for us. We survived without them before."

In response to the tribe, protest leader Ammon Bundy told reporters that "he believed the Paiutes were probably still oppressed by the federal government as much as anybody else," Johnson writes. Bundy said, “They have rights as well. I would like to see them be freed from the federal government as well." (Read more)

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