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Armed group occupies wildlife refuge near reservation in Oregon

The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. Photo from Facebook

An armed group is occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, a federal facility that was initially promised to the Burns Paiute Tribe of Oregon.

The incident began on Saturday during a rally in Burns, a city that borders the present-day reservation. A few people broke off from the otherwise peaceful event and drove about 30 miles south to the refuge, where they plan to stay as long as possible in protest of what they say is the over-reach of the federal government.

"Calling all freedom loving people to come to Harney County Oregon, come to the Malhuer Wildlife Refuge," the Bundy family -- whose members have been involved in high-profile anti-government protests in the last couple of years -- wrote on Facebook. "The people are finally getting some good use out of a federal facility."

Cliven Bundy, the patriarch of the family, isn't taking part in the occupation but three of his sons are. The Bundys and their supporters -- about 20 are occupying the refuge, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting -- are upset by the federal government's prosecution of two men who admitted they set fires that spread to federal land.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is aware that an unknown number of armed individuals have broken into and occupied the...

Posted by Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Sunday, January 3, 2016

According to Cliven Bundy, the land in and around the refuge was initially set aside as a "Indian reservation" though he does not identify that it was promised by treaty to the Burns Paiute Tribe. He also does not disclose that nearly 1.78 million acres was taken from the tribe to pave the way for non-Indian settlers.

The present-day reservation in Burns was initially set aside in 1934. It covers less than 800 acres, or 0.04 percent of what was originally promised to the tribe.

The refuge remains closed while authorities monitor the situation. The Harney County School District has closed all schools for the remainder of the week.

Get the Story:
Militiamen Plan For What's Next As The Hammonds Head To Prison (Oregon Public Broadcasting 1/3)
Explainer: The Bundy Militia’s Particular Brand Of Mormonism (Oregon Public Broadcasting 1/3)
Oregon militia standoff: Ranchers due at prison and what else to expect Monday (The Oregonian 1/4)
Armed activists in Oregon touch off unpredictable chapter in land-use feud (The Washington Post 1/4)
Armed Group Vows to Continue Occupation at Oregon Refuge (The New York Times 1/4)

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