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Siletz Tribe disavows video showing artifacts at refuge in Oregon


As the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon enters a new phase, leaders of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians are distancing themselves from the actions of one of their citizens.

Shirley Warren, a tribal member, went to the refuge on Sunday and viewed some of the artifacts being kept at the site. She claimed that the items hadn't been disturbed by the anti-government protesters who began occupying the site on January 2.

"The artifacts are safe, they're dry, they're well kept," Warren said on the video that was posted by the armed group.

Warren, however, questioned the manner in which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stored the artifacts. Most of the items appear to be kept in cardboard boxes although some can be seen lying around a room inside one of the buildings at the refuge.

"Why are they sitting in a closet in boxes, not being attended to?" Warren said.

Shirley Warren and Ryan Bundy can be seen in a video filmed at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. Still image from Blaine Cooper / YouTube

Warren also wondered why the Burns Paiute Tribe, whose ancestors used to live on the land that is now a part of the refuge, hasn't taken control of the artifacts. The tribe has repeatedly said it is happy with the way the Fish and Wildlife Service has been handling the items and has noted that it has been granted access to them

The tribe also has called on the Department of Justice to prosecute anyone who has harmed the artifacts. By seemingly going against the Paiutes, Warren earned a rebuke from her own leaders.

"This person is not a spokesperson of the tribe; no one other than tribal government leaders are authorized to speak on behalf of the tribe," the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians said in a statement in response to the video. "Neither this person nor the information presented reflects the official position of the Siletz Tribe about how the Burns Paiute Tribe should engage with the militant group."

The Siletz Tribe hasn't taken a position on the takeover itself but Chairwoman Delores Pigsley expressed strong support for the Paiute people.

"The Siletz Tribal Council has taken no official position on the illegal occupation, but we do not condone illegal actions that have been taken by the militants," Pigsley said. "We fully support the Burns Paiute Tribe.”

The statements came as eight people associated with the takeover were arrested by federal authorities. Ammon Bundy, who was the main leader of the group, and his brother, Ryan, who can be seen in the video with Warren, are among those in custody following a confrontation that occurred outside of the refuge.

During the incident, Robert "LaVoy" Finicum was shot and killed. The 55-year-old had been the primary spokesperson of the takeover.

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