Misfortune at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon

For the past week or so, I’ve been commenting and posting information on my Facebook page about the ongoing occupation of the national bird sanctuary near Burns, Oregon, a couple hundred miles from my Boise, Idaho, home.

I thought it might be useful, or at least entertaining, to collect those posts here, along with the many links to other information and background about the militia takeover and some of those involved. I have long been interested in the power of agreement, a phrase I picked up from Paul Crockett, the desert sage who rescued several people from the Manson “family” in the late 1960s.

I am fascinated by the ways some among us are able, occasionally, to awaken from what Gurdjieff likened to the early stages of hypnosis, in which he found the vast majority of humans almost all of the time. We are terribly vulnerable and quite susceptible to having others shape what we consider to be the “real” world.

So, here goes the collection of my thoughts, and others’, about the events unfolding not far from here, in reverse chronological order—moving from recent to earlier events and postings.

Wednesday, Jan. 13

Mix Heather, Sage, and Boyle—what a brew:

 Tuesday, Jan. 12

A picture worth a thousand words:

A man dressed as continental army officer walks through the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Sunday, near Burns, Ore. A small, armed group has been occupying a remote national wildlife refuge in Oregon to protest federal land use policies. You write the cutline. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

More details of the conspiracy leading up to the armed occupation of the Malheur NWR, followed by many eye-opening comments of both supporters & detractors:

Monday, Jan. 11

More backstory on the Hammonds’ and others’ law-breaking and intimidation of federal employees and their families in Harney County, Oregon. While there are a few minor inaccuracies in this story, it paints a pretty clear picture of a problem that has been festering there for decades. The Bundys are not the first troublemakers to target the area. Most of the article was published in the “Village Voice” in the mid-1990s:

wise words:


According to the Oregonian, Idaho state legislators Judy Boyle, Heather Scott and Sage Dixon were among a half-dozen out-of-state lawmakers who met with the Bundy gang on a “fact-finding mission” Saturday.

Beware the righteous man doing the bidding of his God.

Ammon Bundy tells how the Lord directed him: “I did exactly what he Lord asked me to do….I was to call all these people together….to participate in this wonderful thing that the Lord is about to accomplish.”

…and, oh, so, so sincere….

Ammon Bundy: Dear Friends, If we do not stand we will have nothing to pass on.








Sunday, Jan. 10

Bundys’ anti-federal Mormonism has deep roots—Ammon, Capt. Moroni & modern-day, self-styled “Nephites”:

Capt. Moroni: https://youtu.be/1KHuOpE578M
Ammon: https://youtu.be/9E4Qr0ZkRKg

To folks who might think these kinds of beliefs are harmless, I strongly recommend Jon Krakauer’s “Under the Banner of Heaven.”


Jeffrey Lundgren & the Kirtland Temple: Another modern example of Mormon scriptural belief gone awry:

Jeffrey Lundgren – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Friday, Jan. 8

The book of ‘Alma,’ chapters 17 ff, in the ‘Book of Mormon’ may offer clues to Ammon Bundy’s behavior.

Is he living out a convoluted interpretation of the life of his namesake? In Joseph Smith’s story, Ammon goes to the land of Ishmael, where he sees his chance to use the Lord’s power to win the hearts of the Lamanites. Then they would listen to his teachings:

In addition to the church of “latter-day saints” based at Salt Lake City, there are 70-some other Mormon sects. At least one fundamentalist group is based on the Arizona border, at Cedar City, Utah, where Ryan Bundy runs his construction company.

The Bundys’ seditious actions have been decried by the SLC church. To which Mormon Lord is Ammon Bundy listening?

LDS.org illustration

Jon Krakauer, author of “Under the Banner of Heaven,” chimes in on the Bundys:

Thursday, Jan. 7

Laughter is the best medicine for the humorless jailbirds-to-be holed up at an Oregon bird sanctuary.

I like Robert Ehlert’s concluding comment of his editorial in today’s Idaho Statesman:

“The occupiers should take a clue from the tundra swans who visit in late fall and early winter at the refuge. They gather in the various ponds and their voices carry long distances. Though some stay, others know when it is time to move on.”


Wednesday, Jan. 6

Bill Kittredge, who grew up and ranched in southeastern Oregon’s Warner Valley, offers some deep insight into the myth of the West that is fueling much of the anti-government furor we’re seeing:

“…that old attitude from my childhood, the notion that my people live in a separate kingdom where they own it all, secure from the world, is still powerful and troublesome.”


The Ranch Dividians and their Republican supporters/apologists appear to be reading a constitution and listening to a god that don’t exist, except in a closed-off corner of their narrow minds:

Ammon Bundy arrives to address the media at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Ore., on Jan. 4, 2016. (Jim Urquhart/Reuters)

Excellent op-ed by someone who knows Harney County, Oregon, well:

Marty Peterson—Idaho Statesman photo

The Ranch Dividians may meet their match:

Tuesday, Jan. 5

While Idaho militia leaders appear wisely not to be supporting the Ranch Dividians at the Malheur [Misfortune/Bad Luck] Refuge, Idaho politicians may agree with the ends if not the means of the occupation:

Check out this excellent Washington Post column, which was published in the Idaho Statesman today:

Roy Heberger

January 4 at 9:12pm ·

I’ve read most of what coming my way via cyber space about the occupation of the Fish and Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuge in east-central Oregon. The main stream media obviously does not “get” goings on in the west, and seems to be unaware of certain aspects of American History.

For example, there is no such thing as a grazing right. Such a “right” simply does not exist. Ranchers may be authorized to graze livestock on public lands via a permit that comes with requirements and restrictions. Such a permit is a privilege to hold, not a right. It never was a right.

Another example is the effort underway to move federal lands — your lands and my lands — “back” to the states. The “back” part is myth. The states never had ownership of those lands, and most human inhabitants of western states do not support transfer of federal lands to the states.

The thing is the occupation of the refuge facilities has little — nothing, actually — to do with the ranching family that got crosswise with federal laws and has a history of same. The Hammonds are NOT what this illegal occupation of federally managed property is all about. I would hope the national media would start to dig a bit deeper to understand the thugs — the pawns — and dig still deeper to determine who the string pullers are.

To to understand more about the ranching family, who has distanced itself from the occupants of the refuge facility, here is a link from the U.S. Attorney of Oregon that I saw as a result of an e-mail message from a friend and past colleague, Carter Niemeyer:

Dean Gunderson: Calling the actions of these yee-hadists (forging a little cow-liphate in central Oregon) – “Occupy Malhuer” is a little offensive.
There’s very little connection between their actions and what the Occupy Movement did. Occupy was inherently non-violent, offering only passive resistance.
Monday, Jan. 4

Friend and former “Idaho Reports” host and colleague Marc Johnson opines on the Occupy Malheur foolishness in Oregon:

Saturday, Jan. 2 — 8:30 p.m. My first post regarding the Malheur occupation:

Is this the well regulated militia for which the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed?

A government official said they apparently brought support trailers with them.

3 thoughts on “Misfortune at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon

  1. Thank you Gary for organizing this collection of information. The link to Bill Kittrirdge’s “Owning It All” had the deepest meaning for me, especially in the context of how forcibly, and often illegally, Native Americans were removed from their tribal lands and these lands were then thought to be owned by settlers with a European mind set of property and power . I also agree with your comment about people being “…terribly vulnerable and quite susceptible to having others shape what we consider to be the “real” world.”

    • Most definitely: “I did exactly what he Lord asked me to do….I was to call all these people together….to participate in this wonderful thing that the Lord is about to accomplish.”

      See my entries, above, for Jan. 8, 10 &11.

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