January 06, 2016

Bundy bunch occupies Paiute land

The Bundy bunch--the offspring of Cliven Bundy and their followers--are back with another protest based on racist conservative beliefs. They think the government owes them a handout--free grazing on public land--because they're white.

At first their protest was notable because of how the government was treating them with kid gloves. Unlike, say, every protest by people of color. But then the Native connection came to the fore.

Oregon “Militia” Says Feds Stole Their Land–Turns Out It Was Stolen from Paiute Tribe

By John Paul BrammerAccording to Steve Russell at Indian Country Today Media Network, President Grant established the Malheur Indian Reservation in 1872, and it wasn’t until the Bannock War of 1878 that the Bannocks and the Paiute were removed from the reservation. Since then, the wildlife refuge has existed as an alternative use of federal land.

In other words, the only reason the militiamen feel they have a leg to stand on when it comes sovereignty over this land is because of the federal government they are attacking.

When you consider the plight of the Paiute, it makes Ammon Bundy’s Facebook post on December 30th—in which he complained about the federal government stealing land—look deeply ironic:

“Simply put, the federal government has adversely stolen the lands and resources from the people, destroyed thousands of jobs, and the economy of an entire county. Now anyone who has enough guts to stand against them, they annihilate through their own court systems…”
These Aren't the First Armed Whites to Take Over That Oregon Land: Just Ask the Native Paiute PeopleJACQUELINE KEELER: Yes. Well, I’d like to start off saying that today, in January, this is the 137th anniversary of when 500 Paiutes were loaded onto wagons and walked, under heavy armed guard, from their—from the lands where the Bundys are right now holding it and to the Yakama Reservation in Washington state, some 300 miles, knee-deep in snow. And they were forced to march, shackled two by two. And so, that’s some of the background there.

AMY GOODMAN: And then, continue. Take us through to today. What happened to this land? How did it change hands?

JACQUELINE KEELER: Well, the area called the—now called the Malheur, it was called the Malheur Reservation, and it actually constituted nearly 1.7 million acres of land. But with incursions from white settlers, they basically pressured the federal government to open it up to settlement. And so, in 1876, President Grant did that. And then, after there was an uprising with the Bannock Indian War in 1878, due to issues of starvation and deprivation in the middle of winter again, the Bannock and the Paiute rose up, and then that’s when they were force-marched out of the area and lost most of the land.
Bundy Militia Claims Indigenous Paiute Land as Oregon Land

Whose land is it?

Oregon native tribe bewildered by gun-toting ‘glory hounds’: That land belongs to the Paiute

By ReutersThe reservation is not far from the wildlife reserve and the tribe has been living off the arid western Oregon mountains since long before Europeans arrived in North America.

“There was never an agreement that we were giving up this land. We were dragged out of here,” Rodrique said.

The tribe’s approach has typically been less provocative than the protesters who picked up guns to further their anti-government cause.

“I’m, like, hold on a minute, if you want to get technical about it … the land belongs to the Paiute here,” said Selena Sam, a member of the tribe’s council who waitresses at a local diner.
Native American Tribe Has Witty Quip for Oregon Protesters

Educating the Oregon Militia on The Northern Paiute’s ‘Trail of Tears’

By Jacqueline KeelerBurns Tribal chairperson Charlotte Roderique at a press conference yesterday, had a stern rebuke of Bundy’s occupation of her homeland, “Yesterday, the Burns Paiute Tribe joined other community leaders calling for an end to armed protestors at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. Armed protestors do not belong to here. They are endangering our sacred sites and our children. Malheur Wildlife Refuge was a wintering gathering ground before the settlers come here.”

And tribal councilman Jarvis Kennedy had even stronger words, “What would happen to Indians who did this? We, as Harney County residents don’t need some clown to stand up for us, we are hard-working people…we survived without them. We need them to get the hell out of here. They are jeopardizing and scaring our people.”

Despite this, Bundy’s actions have brought national media coverage of the January of 1879 forced march of 500 Paiutes from the Malheur Indian Reservation some 350 miles in knee-deep snow, many shackled two by two, to the Yakama Indian Reservation in Washington State—the Northern Paiutes’ “Trail of Tears.” One group that was force-marched by the U.S. army simply disappeared. No one knows what happened to them. Still more died and when a few Paiute returned to Burns, Oregon, they were considered outlaws, many were landless as their reservation had been opened completely to settlers and large California ranching corporations.

“The one thing I’m really proud of is the tenacity of our people.” Roderique noted, “420 people are descendants of people who were able to get back here from Yakama. I wouldn’t drop my children off from Yakama and tell my children to walk back. They wouldn’t know what to eat, what river to follow.”
Comment:  For more on Cliven Bundy, see Gun Nuts' Hypocrisy on Government Power and ATV Rally Threatens Native Sites.

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