Oregon Indian tribe says armed activists are 'desecrating' its land

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Oregon Indian tribe says armed activists are 'desecrating' its land

With the takeover entering its fourth day Wednesday, authorities had not removed the group of roughly 20 people from the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon's high desert country.

But local officials have repeatedly asked the occupiers to go home, saying that even residents who support their views object to the illegal seizure of federal property.

Bundy replied by asking the sheriff to address the land-use issue at the heart of the controversy with the federal government that led to the occupation - to which Ward replied that it was not his jurisdiction.

"We need to make sure that the Hammonds are out of prison or well on their way", Bundy said.

"It is frustrating when I hear the demand that we return the land to the people, because it is in the people's hand - the people own it", Mr. Randy Eardley, a Bureau of Land Management spokesman, told CBS. "And also that those who have committed crimes, those are exposed as well".

Tribal leaders said their way of dealing with land disputes is long, slow lobbying by talking and writing to government officials at all levels: county, state and federal.

The younger Mr. Bundy's anti-government group is critical of federal land stewardship. 

"If that is the only thing that is accomplished, then it will be well worth our effort".

At an emotional news conference at Burns on Wednesday, tribal leaders denounced the occupiers' claims of wanting to help local residents, and said the protesters' ignorance of the region's real history was offensive.

Bundy is the son of a Nevada rancher who, along with a large group of armed men, stared down federal agents in 2014 when they tried to seize his cattle over unpaid grazing fees.

"In reality, these men had alternative motives, to attempt to overthrow the county and federal government in hopes to spark a movement across the United States", Harney County Sheriff David Ward said in a statement earlier this week.

"It is our goal to get the logger back to logging, the rancher back to ranching", Ammon Bundy said Tuesday.

The tribe held a council meeting on Tuesday to discuss the sudden national attention land rights are once again getting. And it is time for those who are there to depart.

The father and son were convicted of arson and given five-year prison sentences.

The reactions in Burns, a town of 3,000 people about 280 miles (450 km) southeast of Portland, have included sympathy for the well-known Hammonds, suspicion of the federal government's motives, and criticism of the occupiers. Not only have they called for the militia to vacate Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, they have also demanded that the protesters leave their land.

Burns Paiute Tribal Chair Charlotte Rodrique told reporters Wednesday that the tribe is concerned about damage to cultural artifacts. The federal government controls about half of all land in the West. For example, it owns 53 per cent of OR, 85 percent of Nevada and 66 percent of Utah, according to the Congressional Research Service. That compared with just 4 percent in the rest of the country, not including Alaska.

"They have promised to leave if our community wants them to", he added.

"They're scaring our people", Kennedy said.

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