Charlotte Rodrique: Land rightfully belongs to Burns Paiute Tribe

Burns Paiute Tribe Charlotte Rodrique speaks at a press conference on January 6, 2016. Photo from Facebook

Charlotte Rodrique, the chairwoman of the Burns Paiute Tribe of Oregon, weighs in the armed group that is occupying land promised to her ancestors by treaty:
There’s no real reason to change the status quo of land ownership out West. But if anyone should assume a greater caretaking role for the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, which a group of armed protesters are occupying, it's not the state, or private owners, but the Burns Paiute Tribe.

We were forcefully removed from this land (and much more) over the course of numerous bloody disputes. Negotiated ownership terms that came later — first agreed upon, but not ratified, in a peace treaty with the government in 1868 — were mostly ignored and unenforced, as ranchers and mining operators pushed further into Paiute territory over the following decades.

Our access to traditional lands has steadily eroded ever since, but the Malheur sanctuary, which is about 30 miles from our reservation, is of great cultural value to us still. Today, the Burns Paiute has a good relationship with the federal employees who work there: They have been a protector of our artifacts and history, which include petroglyphs and many natural resources that are culturally relevant to our needs. We can’t hunt on the parkland, of course, but tribal people still have a right to go in and gather certain plants, such as willow and tule.

Get the Story:
Charlotte Rodrique: Don’t Change the Status Quo — Unless It’s to Return Land to Tribal Control (The New York Times 1/7)

More Room for Debate:
Robert H. Nelson: Give States Control Over Public Land Out West (The New York Times 1/7)
Debra Donahue: Federal Policies Protect the Land (The New York Times 1/7)
Terry L. Anderson: Federal Land Management Has Been Disastrous (The New York Times 1/7)
Patricia Nelson Limerick: Democracy’s Challenge to the Needs of Conservation (The New York Times 1/7)
Louis Warren: Neither States Nor Settlers Wanted Ownership of Much of the Land Out West (The New York Times 1/7)

Related Stories:
Burns Paiute Tribe not happy with armed group on ancestral land (1/6)
Armed group wants more to join protest on ancestral Paiute land (1/5)
Armed group occupies wildlife refuge near reservation in Oregon (1/4)

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