Self-described “patriots,” members of a militia that is not exactly “well-regulated” (as the Second Amendment requires), occupied Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on January 2 for two stated reasons. They intended to keep Steven and Dwight Hammond from serving the minimum lawful sentence for arson on public land and to protect the citizens of Oregon from the tyranny of the federal government. They have now gotten some results.
First, Steven and Dwight Hammond released a statement through their family lawyer disavowing the support of the militia. Then they turned themselves in to serve their sentences, as required by the terms of their bonds. Dwight Hammond told the Associated Press that was going to happen and now it has.
Second, the descendants of the aboriginal owners of the dirt upon which the Malheur Wildlife Refuge sits (formerly the Malheur Indian Reservation)have held a press conference. It should be noted that if, as the militia claims, the land is not federal, then it is tribal. It’s unclear how the state could have a claim at all since the land belonged to the Paiutes, then was in federal trust for the Paiutes, and then the use of the land was designated as wildlife refuge when most of the Paiutes were removed to Washington Territory.
Those Paiutes who did not move still live on theBurns Paiute Reservation. On January 6, the Burns Paiute Tribal Council called a press conference.
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