October 1, 2020

No Mans Land

David Byars’ 2018 documentary No Mans Land is an account of occupation of Oregon’s Malheur Wildlife Refuge in 2016. It is the story of those on the inside of this movement, attempting to uncover what draws Americans — the ideologues, the disenfranchised, and the dangerously quixotic — to the edge of revolution. 

Coarse observations:
– Aamon Bundy and several other activists occupying Malheur are compelling, intelligent and sympathetic characters. The film made little attempt to starkly contrast their self-perceptions with other local stakeholder’s perspectives
– Prayer is embodied in the vein of “soldiers” doing God’s work.
– Gender roles are distinct and stereotypical (for the most part)
– After the trial, a Black interviewee stated: Bundy asserted that the USA is a white utopia. And the jury agreed…

Add’l resource: a brief survey of US mini-rebellions and political stands with a notable section on the double-standards in the land-use war between Bundy’s militia and the indigenous Paiute community in Burns, for whom Malheur is part of their sacred tribal lands:

Aside from seeing what they perceived to be a double standard when it comes to political and judicial repercussions from the standoff, Native Americans also paid attention to how their own priceless relics (an estimated 4,000 Paiute tribal artifacts are kept at the refuge) were treated–and scorned at, as seen in No Man’s Land–by the Malheur protesters, even more so given how Native American activists (and supporters) protesting the proposed pipeline at Standing Rock were subsequently treated in comparison.
(Long before it became a refuge in 1908, the Malheur was the traditional winter gathering area for Kennedy’s people. That was also long before they were moved to a 10-acre reservation near a landfill outside the small town of Burns.)