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Early the next day I met with Cliven.
I addressed him directly. “What everyone wants to understand is, why are you in lock-up? Let me interview you, and write it down so I can pass the word along for the rest of the country, and even the world, to tell the true story of what went on here, with you and The Bundy 19. What do you say?”
He thought for a moment, lifted up his head with that country-wide grin, and said, “Okay, Mike, let’s do it. But if you’re goin’ to write it down, why don’t you put it in a book? I’m not goin’ to write the book – you should. You’re the author.” he said with a grin.
And with that, I entered the world of constitutionalists, militiamen, and a story – of which, the more I uncovered, the more unfathomable it revealed itself to be.
We dove right in…
“Cliven, I think the most obvious question is what seems to be the most controversial. Why did the Federal Government’s agents back down from your ranch back in 2014?” I asked.
He jumped right on it. “Because they weren’t allowed to take us, they had no jurisdiction and no policing power on Nevada land. Only the Nevada County Sheriff does. He told them to leave.”
“Back in 2014, then-U. S. Senator Harry Reid called you a Domestic Terrorist, while today, there are many people, perhaps, tens of thousands, who call you a patriot. Were you in the right to take on the Federal Agencies toe-to-toe? And why?” That was my next logical question.
“I’m a constitutionalist, Mike. I not only believe in the strict interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, but, I believe it was divinely inspired, and worth fightin’ for. If the Federal Government would be willin’ to be controlled by the Constitution, then we would comply, but, they will not. Many of ’em do not care about the Constitution any more, nor the laws the Constitution establishes. That’s the reason I don’t feel I can back down and give up, even though I’m in prison, it’s my purpose on this earth, and it’s my salvation.”
“Some think that’s crazy, Cliven,” I paused a moment, “taking on the U.S. Federal Government – I know I do.” With that question, I tested his temper.
Cliven pondered a moment before answering. “I don’t believe we should overthrow our government, quite the contrary, but, I believe that our Government is so far off course of what the framers of the Constitution envisioned, that the only hope is for the people to stand up with conviction and moral authority, risking it all, to set the Constitution back on its rightful course.”
That was not the answer I expected; but, I wanted to understand more about the backstory in how this all could have come about. “Tell me about the history of the Federal Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and why they are, in your opinion, abusing their power and corrupting the Constitutional rights of the American citizens, especially here in Nevada.”
Cliven put on his ‘teachers hat’ – something that surprised me about him. He has spent nearly a lifetime researching this subject and he had a cogent argument:
“When a U.S. Territory becomes a State, the Federal Government disposes of its authority over the public lands within this new State’s borders, turning all these public lands over to this new State as the land-owner, and the State becomes responsible as to their management, ownership, and disposition.
“Back when the early settlers were coming out west, it was said that all you needed was 40 acres and a mule; but, what they found was that they, the farmer and ranchers, constantly needed more and more acreage because land itself was becoming more and more arid and less and less fertile.
“So, what took 40 acres back east, soon took 340 acres moving westward, and so on, and, eventually, the western model for ranching became that a family would settle a homestead then graze their herds on the ‘open range’ where these settlers would establish ‘beneficial use’ of this open, public land. ‘Beneficial use’ is determined when the settler first uses any part of the virgin land for his benefit. Grazing his cows, digging a well, all of it is considered ‘beneficial use.’ As the west was settled and as the 1934 Taylor Grazing Act was established, these first settlers were given ‘pre-emptive rights’ on the range, because of
their established ‘beneficial use.’
“The Taylor Grazing Act was enacted to counter-act the many range wars that were breaking out all over the west. Ranchers were in-fighting and killing each other over need for more land, more open range. Under this Act, a local board of ranchers was established to adjudicate disputes, and authorize preemptive rights. The Federal Government would survey, and map, and keep records of the adjudicated grazing rights.
“Eventually, the Federal Government was invited in to manage the entire process. It made sense at the time to the ranchers; because, many of those ranches were extensive, crossing over state lines.
Now remember, this (surveying, mapping, record keeping, even managing the process) was, at the time, services that the Federal Government provided to the ranchers. Services that the
Cliven spoke on like the teacher he is, driving home his point.
“Over time; however, the Government also wanted to establish and manage range improvements. The ranchers agreed to this and were willing to pay a fee1 for these needed services. AMU was the measurement to establish how much the rancher would pay based on how many animals he grazed on the range
for this service.”
To be continued…
But there is much more to tell about the story of Cliven Bundy challenging the government’s authority over federal land … so, stay tuned.
Learn more about Cliven Bundy: American Terrorist Patriot or get your book copy here.
About Michael Stickler
Mike is an author, radio host, ex-felon, and a highly sought after conference speaker. His best-selling book, A Journey to Generosity, is widely acclaimed throughout the Christian community. He is the publisher of Generous Living Magazine and writes for the Christian Post, 'A Generous Life' column (MikeStickler.com)