Steve Russell: Bundys finally ousted from Paiute ancestral lands

Mugshots of the eight people arrested in connection with an armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. Photos from Multnomah County Sheriff

With two members of the Bundy family in custody for their role in an armed takeover at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, Steve Russell, a member of the Cherokee Nation, reflects on the latest developments:
I was not then and am not now a big fan of the feds. Few Indians are. But most Indians agree when pushed that we are better off that the Constitution commands the federal government to deal with us to the exclusion of state and local governments.

In the Oregon situation, though, the state authorities and the Paiute tribal authorities are on the same side as the feds anyway. My own support for the idea of civil disobedience does not put me with the militia. When you do civil disobedience, you accept the consequences of your act. You don’t threaten to inflict casualties on law enforcement officers doing their jobs.

So far, the only casualty is Robert LaVoy Finicum, 55, called among Bundy watchers Blue Tarp Man for his preferred method of keeping warm while waiting for the violent showdown. The Finicum feed on Twitter was #TarpMan. Rolling Stone referred to Finicum as “a cowboy legal scholar” who was “disturbingly at ease with dying out at the (Malheur) Refuge.”

Finicum claimed to be such a follower of Cliven Bundy that he had torn up his grazing contract with the federal government. The East Oregonian—published in Pendleton and serving the Umatilla County area---pointed out that many environmentalists are against the very existence of commercial cattle grazing on public lands. Tearing up a grazing contract would mean not getting another one.

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Steve Russell: Oregon Militia Shootout: Blue-Tarp Man Is Dead (Indian Country Today 1/27)

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