There is a noted light-handed treatment of the militants on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, by local and federal law enforcement. As mentioned in innumerable articles on the Internet and in national media, they are breaking innumerable federal laws. Ironically, if ANY OTHER ETHNIC OR CULTURAL GROUP were to undertake a similar action, we all know that the minority groups would be dealt with rather harshly. Picture SWAT style forced-entry, or a line a tanks and Oregon Air National Guard deployed to “take them out” and you are in the right ball park, for ANY OTHER GROUP! Minority kids are being shot by police in inner cities for “suspicion” and walking around while being “people of color”, native people are shot and murdered in western towns for walking down the road, and native women in Canada are simply disappearing in one of the longest running gaps in effective law enforcement in recent memory. Yet a group of about 20 white men who have faked their military background, and appear to be playing the part of a home militia, are left alone, allowed to take over a federal reserve, access federal computers and databases, tear down federal property, and run their ATVs all over supposed “protected” refuge lands impacting sensitive environments and cultural resources.
Their sole consequences thus far is to have some of the services at the refuge turned off, possibly limit their access to the internet, and make them beg for snacks and the most recent consequence is to disallow them from using a county hall for a meeting.
This is simply an amazing event, pointing out forever the fact that WHITE PRIVILEGE EXISTS! The notion that there are people who do not see the irony is just mind boggling.
Lets reiterate some of the history of eastern Oregon,
In the 19th century, when Capt. Jack (Modocs) and his people chose not to live at the Klamath reservation and left, they holed up in lava caves in eastern Oregon. The Oregon militia of army volunteers could not extricate them from their fortress. So the Militia devised a trick, they lured Capt. Jack out of the fortress to hold a meeting. Once capt Jack arrived, he and his men were arrested. They were all eventually hung. The present Militia when they met the local law enforcement at a crossroads, rather than being arrested were given a photo op with the local sheriff, who shook his hand!
The Paiute people were made lots of promises to get a permanent reservation. Many signed treaties, and some of these treaties were not ratified. yet the people still moved onto the Malheur Reservation. They were tricked out of their land by the federal government. Then they were badly treated, they left and the Bannock war caused many people to die. They were moved on the trail of tears to other reservations and lost their original homelands. Even today their reservation lands are quite small. Yet our present Militants only obviously care about their people, white farmers and ranchers, and not about the reasons these farmers had their lands in the past, stolen from native peoples! Their big issue is the “leases” that are said to be too expensive, or handled illegally by the BLM. Interestingly enough the land they occupy is a wildlife refuge, not the BLM lands that are their original lands in question. Apparently, they just wanted the warm clubhouse to hole up in, as camping through the winter in the BLM land, they were not up to, them being fake military anyway.
Then we have the Wounded Knee II event from the early 1970s. Where when native people occupied this historic site, the government threw the whole book at them including military, tanks, and the FBI. Several Natives were killed by rifle fire until they surrendered. Many were imprisoned.
Wow the difference is stark!
Then we have another developing issue, the fact that the refuge offices house thousands of artifacts which are sensitive in nature. The refuge is serving as a repository for the archaeology of the region. These cultural resources are supposed to be protected by a number of federal laws, yet they state they will leave all of these resources alone. They lied about using the computers, about their military background, about their support in the community, about lots of things, why should we believe them now? The layers of the irony onion are getting deeper and smellier!
These lands are public lands, we all own them collectively, and yet nothing is being done to protect them. The militants need to be treated like the terrorists they are and arrested and charged, even if they are white, because they are breaking the law.
Ethnohistory Research, LLC | David G. Lewis, PhD
PhD Anthropology (UO 2009) and Native history researcher. Member of the Grand Ronde Tribe, Takelma, Chinook, Molalla, and Santiam Kalapuya ancestry. Owner of Ethnohistory Research LCC, professional consultant and project researcher.
I teach at local universities and colleges and take contracts with tribes, local governments and nonprofits. I have experience in archival organization, museum development, exhibit curation, traditional cultural property nomination, tribal ethnohistoric research, tribal maps, traditional ecological knowledge, and presentations to large and small gatherings. Contact me for consultation about any of these projects.