BURNS, Ore. — The leader of an Oregon Indian tribe whose ancestral property is being occupied by a small, armed group opposed to federal land policy says the activists aren’t welcome and need to leave.
Burns Paiute Tribal Chair Charlotte Rodrique told reporters Wednesday that the tribe is concerned about damage to cultural artifacts. She says the group is “desecrating one of our sacred sites.”
The activists seized buildings at the remote Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Saturday. Authorities had not yet moved to oust the group of roughly 20 people.
Tribal council member Jarvis Kennedy took a much more direct approach (see video above), saying protesters need to “get the hell out.”
“We as Harney County residents don’t need some clown to come in here and stand up for us,” he said.
Rodrique and Kennedy said the Paiute people spent their winters in the area long before settlers, ranchers and trappers arrived.
She says the tribe signed a federal treaty in 1868 and expected the government to honor the agreement to protect their interests, though the U.S. Senate never approved it.