The Doctrine of Discovery and the Malheur Refuge

I’ve been wondering where to start in understanding the Bundys and the militia takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge—and I keep getting pushed back in time and place. My journey started with the obvious—the Paiutes, but it didn’t take me long to get to the Pope!

Let me explain: A couple of years ago, a group of us at the Josephy Center spent a few weeks examining the Nez Perce and early white settler history in the Wallowas. 
On the day we were talking about the treaties of 1855 and 1863 (the Paiute and US Indian treaties being my initial starting point in my Malheur quest) that led up to the 1877 Nez Perce War, Bobbie Conner, the director of the Tamástslikt Cultural Institute on the nearby Umatilla Reservation, showed up at the Josephy Center. We asked her to join us, and she jumped in immediately with the Doctrine of Discovery: “You can’t understand Indian treaties without understanding the Doctrine
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A different Oregon history


We don’t know how things will turn out in Egypt, Libya, or Syria, don’t know where the Arab Spring will take the people who are in the midst of it, or, for that matter, what impacts it will have on us, living thousands of miles away but connected by war, trade, and the long threads of family and friendship.  At the same time, we assume an inevitability in our own national history, which we are taught to see as a series of iconic events marshaled and mastered by iconic men—yes, mostly men. 
Our textbooks start with Columbus and give us Washington, Jefferson, Lewis and Clark; Lincoln, Grant, and Lee; Carnegie and Rockefeller; the Roosevelts, Kennedy, and Martin Luther King. There is “discovery,” then pilgrims, frontiersmen, and the Revolutionary War; The Oregon Trail, The Civil War, Manifest Destiny, the Great Depression, “world” wars, etc. etc. etc.
Our friend Alvin Josephy spent a
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