Paul Cienfuegos’ March 29th, 2016 Commentary on KBOO Evening News
(His weekly commentaries are broadcast every Tuesday evening. You can view or listen to them all at PaulCienfuegos.com, CommunityRightsPDX.org/podcast, or subscribe via ITunes.)
Greetings! You are listening to the weekly commentary by yours truly, Paul Cienfuegos.
Today I’m going to be sharing a very brief excerpt of an extraordinary new essay written by Treothe Bullock, a dear friend of mine who lives here in Portland. Treothe has been a tireless advocate for the land and water rights of Native peoples across Cascadia bioregion for his entire adult life. The title of Treothe’s essay is “Tolerating the Bundy Militia Cattleman Occupation of Malheur is comparable to tolerating a KKK occupation of a Black Church – the historical amnesia that got us there”.
Witnessing the cattleman “militia” occupation of Malheur, and the governmental tolerance of it, has been outrageous [and] dumbfoundingly violent when viewed from a First Peoples perspective – in this case the Burns Paiute Tribe. The occupiers reveal common ignorance and insensitivity to the larger story of colonization in what has become the state of Oregon. By both domestic and international law, it can easily be argued that the Burns Paiute Tribe holds legitimate title to the land in dispute, based on their 12,000 years of occupation and ongoing un-ceded presence in the landscape. Citizen militias in the Oregon country were historically enlisted for decades, with the support of the region’s public newspapers, in a public campaign of extermination against First Peoples. … No one has ever been held to account for these crimes and in fact, many of the militia murderers in the early history were given financial reward by Congress. …
To understand the current status of land title in Oregon and the unique status of the US government and First Peoples in the federal legal system, one has to go back to the origins of English Common Law’s [definitions of Land Title] and [the first] European International Law – the Doctrine of Discovery, which arises from Roman Catholic Papal Bulls going back as far as the 12th century, [and] which were imposed upon the North American landscape in the formation of the USA. … [A]ll land Title in the US originates on Doctrine of Discovery legal principles.
The Supreme Court made the Discovery Doctrine formal US case law in the 1823 Johnson vs. McIntosh [decision]. The US Supreme Court last used this case law as recently as 1997, 2001 and 2005 to suppress Indian rights. The Doctrine of Discovery and the law, which arises from it, are based on the belief that European Christians are superior to all other peoples and so can bestow on themselves rights of ownership, which peoples of other races and religions cannot. That this law remains at the foundation of property law in the US reveals that genocidal violence is not simply a historic colonial period of expansion reality … [but] remains active through legal continuities of takings. … The occupants at Malheur seem insensitive to the realities of this history and less than aware of themselves as manifestations of the continuance of this violence.
…The Malheur Wildlife Refuge is Northern Paiute unceded lands – formerly the 1.8 million acre Malheur River Indian Reservation. … The Paiute people were “given” the 1.8 million acre Malheur Indian Reservation in 1872. Within just a few years they were killed in the hundreds or thousands, depending on your sources, when forced out of Oregon altogether. By the 1950’s many Tribal Nation citizens were being “terminated” by accepting relocation fees to move to cities. … According to the Oregon History Project:
“All of the Paiute who were removed to Washington Territory had left the Yakama Reservation by 1883. Some moved to the Warm Springs Reservation or to Nevada, while others returned to the Harney Basin, settling near Burns. In 1972, the Burns Paiute Tribe acquired title to 771 acres of land, forming the Burns Paiute Indian Reservation.”
… Perhaps it is time that we give the Paiute people the chance to teach the ancient First Law of this land – and we all get an education on our responsibilities. [The Paiute people] never ceded the land, and ethically, all occupiers should be looking to their leadership, as guests in these lands [that the Paiute] have stewarded for thousands of years.
I have been reading a very brief excerpt from a much longer essay written by Treothe Bullock, titled, “Tolerating the Bundy Militia Cattleman Occupation of Malheur is comparable to tolerating a KKK occupation of a Black Church – the historical amnesia that got us there”. I urge you to read the full essay on his blog that can be accessed at Treeoathe.wordpress.com.
You’ve been listening to the weekly commentary by yours truly, Paul Cienfuegos. You can hear future commentaries every Tuesday on the KBOO Evening News in Portland, Oregon, and on a growing number of other radio stations. I welcome your feedback.
You’ve been listening to the weekly commentary by yours truly, Paul Cienfuegos. You can hear future commentaries every Tuesday on the KBOO Evening News in Portland, Oregon, and on a growing number of other radio stations. I welcome your feedback. You can subscribe to my weekly podcast via I-Tunes or at CommunityRightsPDX.org. You can sign up for my ‘Community Rights Updates’ at PaulCienfuegos.com. You can follow me on twitter at CienfuegosPaul. THANKS FOR LISTENING! And remember: WE are the people we’ve been WAITING for.