As the armed occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge nears its fourth week, the militia is now raking through Native American artifacts housed on the property.
In a new video posted to the Bundy Ranch’s Facebook account, several ranchers search boxes of artifacts that belong to the Paiute tribe. As members of the group sift through documents and objects, holding them up to the camera, LaVoy Finicum talks about how poorly the artifacts have been stored and proposes a dialogue with local Paiute.
“We want to make sure these things are returned to their rightful owners and that they’re taken care of,” he says, noting rat droppings in some of the boxes. “This is how Native Americans’ heritage is being treated. To me, I don’t think it’s acceptable,” Finicum concludes.
SHARE! BREAKING UPDATE BURNS OREGON BLM LEFT NATIVE ARTIFACTS TO ROT IN MICE DROPPINGS!
Posted by Bundy Ranch on Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Members of the tribe have repeatedly slammed the militia, telling the ranchers to “get the hell out.”
“We as Harney County people can stand on our own feet,” Jarvis Kennedy of the Burns Paiute Tribal council said at a press conference earlier this month. “We don’t need some clown to come in here and stand up for us.”
The tribe occupied the land surrounding the wildlife refuge for 6,000 years, before settlers and the federal government pushed them out. According to Kennedy, the tribe still views the territory as theirs, given their aboriginal rights. But the tribe has worked closely with the refuge to preserve the 4,000 artifacts housed there.
Some members of the militia, including leader Ammon Bundy, have already destroyed property during their occupation. In an escalation of the standoff, they tore down a fence between public lands and a rancher’s private property, which the rancher says was done without his permission. Burns residents report the militia is harassing them and vandalizing other property in the town.
The Paiute fear that the artifacts could be damaged as well, prompting the tribe to send a letter to the U.S. Attorney and the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife Service demanding the ranchers be prosecuted if they “disturb, damage, remove, alter, or deface any archaeological resource on the refuge property.”
“I don’t know what these people are doing if they are doing things to just get a rise or to be martyr — all they are doing is making enemies out of the people they professed to support,” Charlotte Roderique, chairperson of the Burns Paiute tribe,” told Indian Country Today Media Network. She previously explained that the tribe has entrusted the refuge with protecting its cultural rights.
On Wednesday night, Gov. Kate Brown called on the federal government to intervene and end the standoff.
“The residents of Harney County have been overlooked and underserved by federal officials’ response thus far. I have conveyed these very grave concerns directly to our leaders at the highest levels of our government: the U.S. Department of Justice and the White House,” she said.