by Ron Ewart, ©2016, President, NARLO

(Feb. 7, 2016) — As advocates for the American rural landowner (NARLO), we have great empathy for what landowners are having to endure at the hands of a heavy-handed government, the environmentalists that have infiltrated every nook and cranny of government and the Indians that are finding creative ways to seek revenge against the White Man with sympathetic courts, highly-paid lawyers and ancient Indian treaties. The fact that the anger is rising in the landowners of the American West is as predictable as the Sun rising in the East.

There have been many confrontations between landowners and the government, environmentalists and the Indians, and those confrontations are only going to grow. That rising anger has led to the Jarbidge Shovel Brigade in Northern Nevada near Elko, the Klamath Bucket Brigade in Southern Oregon, the infamous Wayne Hage lawsuit against the government, the Bundy standoff against heavily-armed BLM agents in Southeastern Nevada, and now the standoff at the Malheur Nature Preserve in Southeastern Oregon.

On the Indian front, besides Indian Casinos, little has been said or is known about the Boldt decision that gave the Indians 50% of the Salmon harvest every year, or the giant monetary award to the Puyallup Indians in Washington State ($162,000,000) over a land claim, or the Coeur d’Alene Indians trying to claim for the tribe all of Lake Coeur d’Alene in Idaho, or the Flathead Indians taking control of all land, water and electricity rights in Western Montana, with the help of the federal and Montana State governments.

Then there is the dictatorial control and abuse by the Bureau of Land Management and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Agency in the management of federal lands that have spilled over into private land holdings with a vengeance.

All of these events directly affect the rural landowners of the Western United States and have lit a match to what could become a raging land war in the West.

The Western landowners have found themselves in the unrelenting grip of a giant bully known as the U. S. Federal Government. They have tried in numerous legal ways to fight that government, but with courts leaning in favor of the government and the radical environmental movement, the rural landowner has found little redress going the legal route. The hard truth is, you can’t fight the power of the federal government alone, which way too many landowners try.

A blaring case in point is the Wayne Hage family ranchers in Southeastern Nevada. They actually had won a court decree from the U. S. Court of Claims to the tune of $14,000,000 after fighting horrendous attempts by the federal government to thwart their every legal move. The elder Hages have since died and their son has had to pick up the fight. Some reports indicate that the Hage family has spent over $2,000,000 in lawyers, court costs and expert witnesses. In over 20 years of that court case and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel by a favorable court award, the family’s hopes were dashed when the federal government took the case to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that reversed the lower court’s award and remanded the case back to the lower court with a new judge.

The younger Hage said in a telephone interview Monday that an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court would be difficult. “I don’t know what the future has in store for us.” We have been dealt a lot of ugly over the years. I’m not sure where it’s going to go. It is a big disappointment, not just for my family but for the entire industry. They felt relief at the Jones decision. Ranchers’ rights had been upheld but now it has all been overturned. It looks to me like the 9th Circuit just swelled the ranks of the militias.” Hage said he is not involved with the militias but that he understands their frustrations with the federal government.”

The 9th Circuit overturned the lower court’s ruling because the lower court judge allegedly harbored “animus” towards the federal agencies. Imagine that! Since the courts most always lean in favor of the government and against the citizens, that’s OK in the minds of the FEDS, but woe be to the judge who dares to lean in favor of citizens’ rights and the constitution.

Given this backdrop and the frustration of the landowners trying to fight an intransigent government, it is no wonder that some landowners decided to take matters into their own hands and confront the government with guns at the Bundy Ranch in Nevada where a blood bath was averted by cooler heads.

The Bundy standoff in 2014 has led to the current Oregon standoff where trigger-happy Oregon State Patrol and FBI agents couldn’t wait to shoot one of the landowners at a traffic stop in what has been reported by eyewitness Victoria Sharp, who was in the white SUV, as, “red laser lights everywhere, shined on all of the occupants of the rancher’s car, and a hail of bullets from the FBI agents fired into our car where Ryan Bundy was wounded. It’s a wonder we weren’t all killed.”

(See eyewitness video/audio:

The apparent summary execution of Lavoy Finicum at the traffic stop was murder, according to Ms. Sharp. She stated that Lavoy. 54, a Mormon and father of 11 children and 19 grandchildren, had his hands up when the FBI agents shot him several times and while he was lying on the ground, they shot him three more times. But let’s not forget that Lavoy Finicum tried to run a roadblock.

The FBI calls Ms. Sharp’s testimony false and has released a video of the event. The FBI claims Lavoy was reaching for a gun when they shot him. Couldn’t they have at least waited to see the gun before they shot him? The FBI video doesn’t mention or show the bullet-riddled SUV. Any investigation into the shooting will likely be a whitewash.

But this begs the question of why would a father of 11 children be at a place where he could be killed? That’s irresponsible. Who will take care of the children and his ranch now that he is gone ….. the government?

By the time this article is published, the Malheur Nature Preserve occupation will probably be over. The apparent leader of the ranchers, Ammon Bundy, from his jail cell, has strongly urged the other remaining ranchers to go home, if they can get out of there without being arrested, or shot. Hopefully, they will leave peacefully and no more bloodshed will occur.

There were only two possible outcomes from the Oregon standoff. The first outcome is all of the ranchers would all be shot dead by government agents. The other outcome was that they would be arrested for breaking the law. Only one was shot dead and the rest have been, or probably will be, arrested. They could serve many years in jail.

What did the ranchers hope to accomplish? Yes, they obtained national news coverage, but that coverage labeled the ranchers as thugs and terrorists. What the ranchers wanted was the Hammond father and son Oregon ranchers to be released from prison for a trumped-up arson charge by the government giving them a five-year sentence as terrorists. That sentence was obviously overkill by the government and was and is a travesty of justice. Nevertheless, even after the standoff is over, the Hammonds will still be in prison. So there was no win on this demand.

The ranchers’ second demand was for the federal government to cede all federal lands to the states. That demand was never going to happen in the short term, but several states are attempting to regain control of federal lands in their states. We see movement along these lines in Utah, Nevada and Idaho.

Even though we sympathize with the ranchers and their cause, the occupation was futility by any other name, driven by irrational anger and frustration. The news of the occupation will be dead in a week or two, drowned out by the Presidential race. The trials of those arrested might be covered but it won’t be front-page news. The press will crucify the ranchers and when the ranchers go to jail, no one will care. The ranchers will become nameless martyrs in a long war against rising government tyranny, even though the ranchers’ honorable goal was to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

What are the lessons learned from the Oregon occupation event? The first lesson is, you have to be smarter than the government and that shouldn’t be too hard given that government employees are intellectually-challenged at best. What the ranchers did was not being smarter than the government.

The second lesson is that you don’t go up against a superior force with a handful of disorganized armed citizens. That’s not only folly; it can be deadly and is in direct violation of the art of war. If Americans decide they want to challenge the military power of the federal government, they had better have no less than 10,000 heavily-armed, dedicated citizens with a tight organization, strong leadership, adequately supplied and funded, a detailed plan and the commitment and courage to confront government no matter what the cost. Any outright war with the 10,000 would be perceived by the public as heavy-handed and dictatorial, and the mask of government tyranny would finally be removed for all to see. That is probably why the government backed down at the Bundy Ranch in Nevada in 2014 because of the adverse public opinion if civilian Americans started dying in the desert at the hands of BLM agents.

Anyone should know that the government can easily overpower a smaller force as they did in Oregon, and the smaller force will have gained nothing out of the confrontation. But a force of 10,000 or more raises the stakes to a whole new level where the government will think twice about a war where Americans are killing other Americans, albeit that didn’t stop them in the civil war.

Government could not ignore the demands of an army of 10,000 armed and dedicated civilians who intended to punctuate their demands with guns. However, as far as we know, there is no force of an organized group of 10,000 heavily-armed citizens lurking in the shadows of America right now.

Consequently, the only other way is to legally challenge the government by using the courts, as the environmentalists do, even knowing that the courts and brainwashed juries lean in favor of the government and especially the environmentalists. Such a strategy requires a non-beatable legal team and tens of millions of dollars to fund the legal battle. Yes, we can take back America in the courts, with enough money.

If the 50,000,000 or so voters that voted for Mitt Romney in the 2012 election donated $10.00 per month for a year, a war chest of $500,000,000 would be raised each month (that’s $6 Billion Dollars in a year) to fight a legal battle. Even if 10% of that 50 million would donate $10.00, that would be enough. The giant legal firms would fall all over themselves to represent this group in that they would sue their own mother if there were enough money in it for them.

But until such a legal strategy is mounted and the funds raised, nothing will change in America. As we said in our last article entitled “America’s Collapse Is A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy – UNLESS, “….. a critical mass of dedicated American citizens finally decide to resist government tyranny by acts of civil disobedience on a grand scale, punctuated by the threat of force if necessary.” A Boston-style tea party, or even a million-man march on Washington, DC, or an armed occupation at a nature preserve in Oregon to seek a redress of grievances just doesn’t cut it in today’s America. The corrupt “system” will just swallow them up and spit them out.

But we wonder who gets it, or even who’s listening, or worse, who cares?

If you care, let us know HERE

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NOTE:  The foregoing article represents the opinion of the author and is not necessarily shared by the owners, representatives, employees, or agents of the publisher.

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Ron Ewart, a nationally known author and speaker on freedom and property rights issues and author of this weekly column, “In Defense of Rural America“, is the president of the National Association of Rural Landowners (NARLO) ( an advocate and consultant for urban and rural landowners and a non-profit corporation headquartered in Washington State.  He can be reached for comment at:

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