The Burns Paiute tribe is a Native American tribe in Oregon, a state in the north-western US. Most are from the Wadatika band of the Northern Paiutes. They were the main people living in south-eastern Oregon from at least 1000 to 1830.
By the numbers:
- 1800: 40,000? people on 136,000 km2 (more land than Arkansas)
- 1868: 2,000 people on 7,198 km2 (more land than Delaware)
- 2016: 349 people on 56 km2 (almost as much land as Manhattan).
Unlike most Native Americans, they did not grow maize. They were hunter-gatherers. Some say they were in Oregon by -11,000, others say it was not till 1000.
1820s: The first Whites arrive, hunting beaver, used to make hats in the eastern US. Their trail grows into the Oregon Trail, which brings White settlers and their diseases.
1830s and 1840s: Cholera and smallpox sweep through the tribe. Up to 90% die. They start using guns and horses.
1860s: White people and their horses and cows are eating up and destroying the tribe’s food supply. The tribe begins raiding Whites just to live. This brings the US Army down on them. By the spring of 1868 half are dead, leaving 2,000.
1868: They sign a peace treaty with the US (not ratified by Congress). The tribe agrees to stop raiding Whites. In return, the US will give them the Malheur Indian Reservation, food, clothing and army protection.
1878: The US does not hold up its end. This leads to starvation and an uprising, which the US Army puts down.
January 5th 1879: The US Army marches the remaining 500 off their land at gunpoint. They put the men in shackles and make the walk 500 km north through the snow to Fort Simcoe.
1883: The US starts giving away their land to Whites under the Homestead Act.
When the Paiutes return, the US offers them marginal land in the Rye Grass area. Most distrust the offer and settle outside of Burns and Drewsey instead, working for Whites as ranch hands and washerwomen.
1927: Father Heuel, a Catholic priest, arrives. In time some become Christians. In 1934, he persuades them to take the US to court for stealing their land.
1949: They are now allowed to go to White schools. Until now too many had tuberculosis and trachoma.
1968: The US recognizes them as a tribe. This allows them to set up their own government.
1969: They win their court case against the US, but their old land is valued at 1890 prices! After they pay the lawyers, they only get $741 apiece (425 crowns).
1998: They open a casino.
2007: Although other tribes speak Northern Paiute and it is taught at some schools, it is in danger of dying out.
2016: Whites with guns led by Ammon Bundy “take back” the wildlife refuge (760 km2). They seem not to know that the US government stole it not from White ranchers but from the nearby Burns Paiute tribe. The tribe wants Bundy to leave. He is desecrating their sacred lands where their ancestors are buried.
– Abagond, 2016.
Sources: Mainly their website: burnspaiute-nsn.gov.
- Oregon stand-off – the Ammon Bundy thing
- Racializing Native Montana
- Cherokee Trail of Tears
- settler colonialism
- American Indians – Legal Recognition