BURNS, OR -- The people of Harney County continue to deal with the strife caused by the ongoing occupation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Pastor Matthew Littau, of St. Andrew's Episcopal/Peace Lutheran church in Burns, tells KBND News the last month has been difficult. "Our lives have been disrupted with deliberate intimidation tactics against ordinary common citizens out there on the street." Littau is also pastor of the Living Waters Mission on the Burns-Paiute Reservation, "I know that a week ago Wednesday, the tribal offices on the Reservation were closed because there was a threat against the tribe. I don't know the exact nature of that threat or what it was, but it was enough that they closed their offices on Wednesday."
Pastor Littau says he's seen first-hand how relationships are suffering. "The dueling rally, I think, was a good example of what it's doing to our people here in our community; it's splitting them. One person takes that point of view, the other takes that point of view, and they get very passionate about it. Pretty soon, they're yelling and screaming at each other. And pretty soon, friendships that have been solid for a couple of decades are broken. It's weird."
Four people remain at the refuge, refusing to leave. Pastor Littau says the continuing standoff has many people scared to attend church. "We have several people, probably half a dozen, who aren't coming to church right now because they just don't feel safe. So, our attendance at our church in town is down, as a result. We've also had some personal animosity between some of the members and one visitor in particular, that has not exactly been pleasant. But, on the other side, the church on the Reservation - the Church of Living Waters - the Paiute church, during this last month, our attendance has actually increased."
As of Friday, the refuge occupation hit its 35th day.