Oregon armed militia are encroaching on sacred land, says Indian tribal leader

Paiute tribe leader says two dozen militia at Malheur national wildlife refuge are endangering their children and that armed protesters dont belong here

The leader of an Oregon Paiute Indian tribe joined the chorus of local residents calling for the armed militia camped out at a local federal wildlife refuge to give up their fight and go home.

Tribal chairwoman Charlotte Rodrique stood before 100 people including many of the 420-member tribe at a press conference on Wednesday, saying that the Bundys and their gang were encroaching on land considered sacred to the Paiute people.

Armed protesters dont belong here, she said. By their actions they are desecrating one of our sacred traditional cultural properties. They are endangering our children, and the safety of our community, and they need to leave. Armed confrontation is not the answer.

About two dozen armed militia have held a standoff at the Malheur national wildlife refuge since the weekend, saying they will not leave until the federal government cedes management of local land to the state and county authorities.

They took possession of the isolated scattering of buildings operated by the US Fish and Game Service after staging rally on behalf of two local ranchers who were imprisoned on federal arson charges.

In Burns, located 30 miles from the beleaguered park headquarters, federal officials massed in great numbers, ready to move in on the protesters if necessary. So far there has been no violence, only claims by some militia that they are ready to die for their cause.

The local Pauite tribe uses the refuge for many sacred religious and cultural ceremonies, such as collected plants for medicine and crafts.

Rodrique called the Bundys and their followings dangerous people with a mindset that precludes negotiations. She said she would not dignify their presence with a visit.

The protesters have no claim to the land, she said. It belongs to the Native people who continue to live here. The Malheur wildlife refuge is an important place for us. We have no sympathy for those who are trying to take the land from its rightful owners.

  • This article was amended on 6 January 2015 to remove a reference to a tweet by Ammon Bundy which was posted by a parody account, not by Bundy himself.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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