In Burns, Oregon a group of armed, white militia men are in a standoff with federal officials. These men, known as the Bundy militia, have taken over a federal building and are claiming to be protesting “tyranny.” Their belief is that the Bureau of Land Management is “oppressing” ranchers in how it treats ranchers on federal property. Of course these white militia men have seem to have forgotten a particular swath of American history in land seizure.
Historically, the land that the Bundy militia are now occupying belonged to the Northern Paiute tribe. The Pauites owned 1.5 million acres of land before the federal government seized it and now they have 750 acres of land. That 750 acres is the Maiheur Indian Reservation and it shares its name with the land the Bundy militia are occupying, the Maiheur National Wildlife Refuge.
For thousands of years the Native Americans lived and owned all of what is now the United States. With the beginning of colonization, white men have taken that land piece by piece and year by year until the Native Americans have been left with just reservations devoid resources. Due to that lack, the reservations are known for high unemployment rates, poverty, and a lower life expectancy.
The Bundy militia is protesting the “tyranny” and “oppression” of ranchers, but they really should be thinking about who that land truly belonged to. If they want justice, they should be protesting the “tyranny” and “oppression” of Native Americans.