On the evening of Saturday, January 2, a group of armed protestors commandeered the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, a federal preserve near Malheur Lake, about 30 miles south of Burns, in eastern Oregon. The group, which includes Ryan and Ammon Bundy, sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy – who had his own clash with the federal Bureau of Land Management in 2014 – is protesting the arrest and imprisonment of two Oregon cattle ranchers convicted of arson on federal land. (The convicted ranchers, father and son Steven and Dwight Hammond, have disclaimed any connection to the armed group, and have begun serving their sentences.) As of today, January 6, the standoff continues, with the protestors vowing to occupy the building “for as long as it takes.” (Or until the local community asks them to leave. Or until their food runs out: Ammon Bundy made a Facebook appeal for “supplies or snacks” – to be sent via U.S. Postal Service, that tool of the archenemy. PETA responded by hand-delivering vegan jerky.) The refuge, which is an important habitat for some 320 species of birds, remains closed to the public until further notice.
For more about the motives and legality of the protest, follow the links at the end of this post. In the meantime, let’s take a look at the story from my preferred angle: naming.