Published January 6, 2016
BURNS, OREGON – “We don’t condone the takeover of the Malhuer National Wildlife Refuge,” said Charolotte Rodrique, chairperson of the Paiute Burns Tribes today during a press conference.
The Malhuer National Wildlife Refuge has been occupied by a group of armed domestic terrorists since Saturday. The group, which call themselves “patriots,” are demanding the federal government “give the land back to ranchers.” One of the leaders of the domestic terrorist group is Ammon Bundy, who is the son of Nevada rancher, Cliven Bundy, who led a month-long standoff with the Bureau of Land Management in Nevada in 2014.
“We as a Tribal Council, believe it is important to set the record straight: the land prior to 1890 belonged to the Pauite, not ranchers as Bundy has stated,” said Cecil Dick, tribal council member.
“What would have happened if a group of Natives had gone over there to takover the land? I think people need to think about that and we don’t need some group of clowns to come in here to speak for us…they need to get out. We are hard-working people. We can stand up for our own rights,” stated Jarvis Kennedy, tribal council member and of the Burns Paiute Tribe.
Rodrique, who has been tribal chairperson of the Burns Paiute Tribe for the past five years, disputes that any group of ranchers were ever rigthful owners of the land. While the land was never ceded by the Paiute, she said the wildlife refuge land was part of a the Treaty of 1868 that was never ratified by the U.S. Senate, but both parties have upheld the language fo the treaty.
She sad the Tribe is concerned about the group desecrating sacred ancestral land. The Tribe, which never gave up its aboriginal rights to the land where the wildlife refuge sits, still exercises it rights to go there to gather wood for cradle boards for children and takes tribal youth there in the summer to make traditional boats. She indicated most of the activities done there are not done in the winter; therefore, there is no disruption for the Tribe at the present time because of the takeover.
Today, the Burns Pauite Tribe has 420 enrolled members throughout the United States and is based in Burns, Oregon, which 35 miles north of the wildlife refuge.
Rodrique said the tribe will take any surplus land that the United States government wants, but will work to through the proper paperwork if there is any surplus land.
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