Published January 26, 2016
BURNS, OREGON — The Burns Paiute Tribe is asking the U.S. Justice department to end the illegal takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge that began over three weeks ago on Saturday, January 2, 2016.
In a letter dated Friday to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the tribe told the government that it is obligated under its treaty with the Northern Paiutes to inflict punishment for “any crime or injury…perpetrated by any white man upon the Indians and calls for a “swift end” to the takeover.
“The land on which the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is located is in the heart of our tribe’s ancestral territory,” writes Charlotte Roderique, chair of the tribe in the letter to Attorney General Lynch. “This is sacred place to the Burns Paiute Tribe. The refuge and the refuge buildings hold invaluable, irreplaceable and endangered aspects of the tribe’s cultural heritage.”
The letter informs the attorney general there are over 4,000 tribal artifacts and confidential documents related to tribe’s cultural resources housed at the wildlife refuge, which is causing concern by tribal officials that the protesters would sell them to support their illegal takeover.
“Unfortunately,” Roderique writes, “there is a long history of a black market for Native American antiquities. There continues to be a robust market for the sale of tribal artifacts, notwithstanding the outright illegality of their acquisition.
“Allowing the militants free passage from the refuge means that our cultural patrimony is unprotected and easily transported outside the refuge for sale or misappropriation by the militants.”
There has been no official response from the letter to date.
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