A number of tribes will be joining with the Burns Paiute Tribe at sunrise on Saturday, March 12, to conduct a cleansing ceremony at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon. Tribal Chairperson, Charlotte Rodrique, stressed it would not be on the refuge but instead on a high point across from the refuge.
The reason for the cleansing ceremony is to clear the aura from the area following the takeover of the refuge. Charlotte explained that it still feels uncomfortable. “We went down and smudged and there was just a feeling that when those people started touching the artifacts and waving them around, those sorts of things were disrespectful in our eyes and those spirits were agitated and bothered.” She noted that the person waving things around died a couple of days later and the lady doing the filming had a tragic death in her family within a week.
“We need to put those spirits to rest so things go back to being peaceful. That’s why we’re having the cleansing. We don’t want our old people going down to gather basket making materials or fishing, things like that. We don’t want the spirits to be uneasy that we’re there.”
Charlotte added she didn’t know precisely who would be attending but mentioned such tribes as the Warm Springs, Umatilla, Shoshone-Bannock, all the Northern Paiute bands and possibly the Klamath. She heard some would be coming from Montana as well. “It’s open to any Native people who want to offer prayers to help people with their stress,” she added.
She feels it’s going to be a powerful event, powerful spiritually. “I’m grateful so many people want to come.”