If there's one thing that will get your point across and persuade the general public to support your cause, it's driving a bunch of ATVs through Native American ruins and burials.
That seems to be the logic used by anti-Bureau of Land Management, pro-Cliven Bundy protestors who drove ATVs through a Utah canyon trail where motorized vehicles are banned. The rally was organized by Phil Lyman who, believe it or not, is actually a commissioner of San Juan county, home of Recapture Canyon. Hundreds of years ago, it was also home to the Puebloans, as evidenced by the ruins of their homes dug into the canyon rock. It is currently on federal land.
In 2007, an illegal ATV trail was discovered, sections of which ran right through some of these archaeological sites. The BLM then ruled that motorized vehicles were illegal in the canyon, and ATV and anti-federal enthusiasts have protested ever since -- well before the Bundy Ranch debacle.
"For 130 years people have been using that canyon as a highway," Lyman told the Salt Lake Tribune, apparently not realizing that 130 years ago, motorized vehicles were only just being invented and were certainly not in mainstream use.
Bundy Ranch put squabbles with the BLM in the national spotlight, and so Lyman's rally for the right to potentially destroy Native American artifacts brought several Bundy supporters -- including Bundy's son, Ryan. Also people wearing camouflage and a guy with an assault rifle, according to the Tribune. There were also American flags, which makes no sense.
Both the BLM and the sheriff's department came to the rally, but whatever skirmishes the ATV riders were anticipating/hoping for didn't come to pass. The BLM simply recorded the proceedings to prosecute offenders later. The sheriff's deputies said they were only there to keep the peace, and any punishment would have to come from the BLM, since "they're the ones that closed the road." Thanks, deputies.
Lyman won't have to worry about any federal repercussions, as he ultimately did not drive on the trail. Bundy did ride on the illegal trail, but I guess he doesn't think there will be consequences for his actions for some reason.
A Navajo Warrior ceremony for returning veterans was scheduled for the area that weekend, but the rally forced organizers to reschedule it for October. So the rally was a slap in the face of Native Americans from the past and the present.
"Damage to archaeological sites is permanent and the information about our collective past is then lost forever," said Jerry Spangler, director of the Colorado Plateau Archaeological Alliance. "It is sad that irreplaceable treasures of importance to all Americans would be sacrificed on the altar of anti-government fervor. It is worse that protesters would be so blinded to their own insensitivity as to what others consider to be sacred treasures of their past."
In other Bundy news, the FBI recently opened an investigation into last month's showdown at the ranch.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.