Oregon Standoff: More on 'Federal Lands'

Protesters take over a government building in Oregon -- in a fight over land ownership.

A group of armed protesters, calling themselves the Citizens for Constitutional Freedom have entered their second week of occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, in southeast Oregon.

Why, you might ask... it's a bit complicated, but we'll try and break it down for you. The focal point of the protest involves a land ownership battle between the federal government and the people. Two ranchers in Oregon were convicted of arson on public land, adjacent to their ranch -- and they're now serving a five year jail sentence. The group of protesters say they're standing up to the government over federal land use.


THAT’S AMMAN BUNDY — HE’S ONE OF THE LEADERS OF THE GROUP PROTESTING IN OREGON OVER HOW THE GOVERNMENT DETERMINES FEDERAL LANDS. THAT’S THE MAIN AREA OF CONFLICT IN THIS STANDOFF.

FEDERAL LANDS ARE LANDS THAT BELONGS TO THE U.S. GOVERNMENT. SO HOW MUCH LAND DOES THE GOVERNMENT OWN? TAKE A LOOK.

THE OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF LAND OWNED BY THE GOVERNMENT IS LOCATED ‘WEST’ OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER… IN FACT, 47% OF THE WEST IS FEDERAL LAND COMPARED TO JUST 4-PERCENT EAST OF THE MISSISSIPPI. THIS OWNERSHIP IS FURTHER BROKEN UP INTO FOUR AGENCIES - THE BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT, THE FOREST SERVICE, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE AND THE NATIONAL PARKS SYSTEM.

THE BIG QUESTION A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE IS - HOW DID THE GOVERNMENT GET THE LAND?

AS THE U-S EXPANDED WEST, IT DID SO BY EITHER PURCHASING LAND — OR TAKING IT FROM THE NATIVE AMERICANS. THE LAND WAS LATER DISTRIBUTED TO STATES AND INDIVIDUALS — SOME OF THE LAND OUT WEST WAS DEEMED TOO ‘HARSH’ FOR SETTLERS TO MAKE A LIVING AND THE GOVERNMENT TOOK CONTROL OVER THE UNCLAIMED AREAS. BUT IN OTHER CASES, LIKE YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK - THE GOVERNMENT SOUGHT TO PROTECT.

BACK IN OREGON — DEMONSTRATIONS ON THE ROLE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PLAYS WHEN IT COMES TO LAND RIGHTS HAVE MOVED INTO THE SECOND WEEK. MANY AREA SCHOOLS WERE CLOSED FOLLOWING THE ARMED PROTESTERS’ MOVE TO OCCUPY A GOVERNMENT BUILDING. PLANS FOR HOW LONG THE PROTESTERS WILL STAY HAVE NOT YET BEEN REVEALED.


As you just heard, protesters took over the government building, causing some schools to be closed all of last week.

So now it's time for you to sound off. Do you believe the protesters have the right to be there, with protection from the Constitution and the Bill of Rights? Or do you think they should be arrested, because they're impacting the rights of other people?

Let us know where you stand, and after you vote, write to us and let us know how you decided to vote one way or the other.

Instructional Links

Website Map & Article: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ohio National Wildlife Refuge Locations

http://www.fws.gov/refuges/refugeLocatorMaps/Ohio.html

PDF: U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Wildlife Refuge System Overview

http://www.fws.gov/refuges/about/pdfs/NWRSOverviewFactSheetApr2013revNov032013.pdf

Lesson Plan: The First Amendment in Public Schools, Lesson: Freedom to Assemble and to Petition

http://archive.adl.org/education/curriculum_connections/spring_2007/lesson%204.pdf

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