Protect Native American Heritage at Wildlife Refuge

Target: Pacific Regional Director Robyn Thorson and Malheur Refuge Manager Chad Karges

Goal: Draft and publicize plans to stabilize damaged archaeological sites at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Militants destroyed public property and developed protected land during the occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Road building in particular is a threat to conservation efforts at the refuge and a grave insult to the Paiute people, many of whose burial grounds are on park land. Tribal leader Jarvis Kennedy likened the destructive action at the park to grave desecration, asking The Guardian, “How would [the occupiers] feel if I drove over their grave and went through their heirlooms?”

The damage caused by the Malheur occupiers jeopardizes the future of historical sites at the refuge and denigrates the Paiute people whose cultural sites and artifacts that park protects. As stewards of the the land, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a responsibility to redress both those wrongs. Drafting a conservation plan is necessary first step to fulfill that obligation, protecting important archaeological sites at the park and indicating esteem for the Paiute people.

Moreover, publicizing conservation plans presents an opportunity for public education. Promoting wider understanding of the vulnerability of historical sites will raise awareness of the need for respect of culturally significant land. That new understanding will help the public properly esteem our land and artifacts, safeguarding them from future harm.

Begin the important work of stabilizing threatened archaeological sites, honoring our national obligations to the Paiute people, and educating the public as to the value of our imperiled heritage. Sign on below to demand immediate action.


Dear Regional Director Robyn Thorson and Refuge Manager Chad Karges,

The dramatic and widely publicized occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is over, but the work of recovery is just beginning. As part of that recovery process, please ensure that you have plans to correct damage done to archaeological sites at the park and to preserve them for generations to come. Ensure also that your conservation plans are publicized so that the tragic desecration of Native American sites at the park and be redeemed as an instrument of public education, preventing similar destruction in the future.

Dramatic testimony to the media by members of the Paiute tribe indicates the depth of the violation their community experienced at the hands of the Malheur occupiers. As tribal leader Jervis Kennedy told The Guardian, “I feel disrespected that they’re even out there … It’s like me going through their drawers at their house.” That affront to the Paiut people was acknowledged by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Jason Holm, who condemned the “disgusting, ghoulish behavior” of the occupiers.

Neither acknowledgment nor condemnation is enough. The threat to archaeological sites at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge must be ameliorated, and the first step in that process is drafting and publicizing a conservation plan.

As members of the American public, we demand that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fulfill its obligations as steward of the land and its history. Preserve Paiute history for generations to come.


[Your Name Here]

Photo: Jeff Sorn

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One Comment

  1. Haven’t we stolen enough from the Only true Americans? Make sure those responsible for this destruction are held accountable and see that it Never happens again.!

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