NEVADA DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE REQUESTS FBI INVESTIGATION OF NATIVE AMERICAN OPPONENTS OF NEVADA BEAR HUNT
Sept. 2012: UPDATE: ACLU intervenes in targeting of AIM and No Bear Hunt by Censored News
Northern Nevada AIM press statement
Posted at Censored News
RENO -- Following their appearance at the March Wildlife Commission meeting, where they stated their opposition to the bear hunt on religious grounds, Native Americans from various Paiute Tribes the Pyramid Lake Paiute Band were recently questioned by FBI and U.S. Marshalls.
FBI Agent, George Chillito (cell 775-741-9429), an FBI agent with the Task Force on Counter-Terrorism in Reno, reportedly stated that he was investigating the Native Americans at the request of Nevada Department of Wildlife game wardens because the “game wardens” and the “audience felt threatened” by the presence of the Native Americans at the March Wildlife Commission meeting.
Several Native Americans appeared at the Wildlife Commission meeting held on March 23 and March 24 (“meetings”), and at the Washoe County Advisory Board Meeting held on March 15, to oppose the bear hunt, adopted in December 2010. Shortly after the Commission meeting, FBI agents and U.S. Federal Marshals began appearing at the homes and places of work of the Native Americans, and questioning them about why they opposed the bear hunt, and what were they going to do if the bear hunt continued, etc.
At the meetings, several Native Americans from various Paiute Tribes were present and spoke on the record in opposition to the Bear Hunt for religious reasons, stating that the black bear was a sacred animal to them, and that to kill one for sport was the same as burning a Bible would be to a Christian.
Shortly thereafter, during the period April 2-4, FBI agents visited and questioned two of the Native Americans who spoke at the open public meetings, by arriving at their homes and places of work.
Native American Daniel Thayer was visited by federal agents at his place of work on April 3, and was told that the Nevada Department of Wildlife had requested an investigation because the “audience felt threatened” by his presence, and was similarly questioned. On April 4, another Native American, Raquela Arthur, saw federal agents watching and carrying out surveillance on her private residence.
When independently contacted, one Nevada Department of Wildlife staff member stated that he had no knowledge of any request by the Nevada Department of Wildlife for the FBI to investigate Native American opponents of the Bear hunt.
Mr. Chilito is reported to have said that he was also investigating members of www.NoBearHuntNV.org who were present at the meetings, and who have been peacefully and professionally opposing the bear hunt since December 2010 by working within the NDOW public process without incident. Many members of the press from TV and newspapers were also present at the meetings, and were interviewing both Native Americans and members of NoBearHuntNV.org throughout the day. A video of the Commission meeting, and the testimony of the Native Americans, is posted on the Nevada Departmen of Wildlife website.
This FBI intimidation comes on the heels of alleged racial slurs directed at the Native Americans when they spoke at the Washoe County Advisory Board held on March 15th.
Native Americans questioned are members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) of Northern Nevada, a recently registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. AIM members call for NDOW to conduct an internal investigation and to make public who made the request to the FBI, on what grounds it was made, and why the Director of Nevada Department of Wildlife supported such a request.
Phone contact info available from Censored News for media: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lisa and Johnny Bonta, Mr. Bonta is a Member of Reno-Sparks Indian Colony
Daniel Thayer, Member of the Northern Paiutes from Owyhee, NV
Raquela Arthur, Member of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe
No Bear Hunt NV shocked at probe of Native Americans exercising First Amendment free speech rights
April 10, 2012 - NoBearHuntNV.org has learned that Native Americans are under investigation by the FBI following objections to the bear hunt on religious grounds voiced by Native Americans at the March 23-24 Wildlife Commission meeting in Reno.
FBI agent George Chilito, with the Task Force for Counter-Terrorism in Reno, along with approximately five U.S. Marshals, visited and questioned Native Americans at their homes and places of work about their opposition to the bear hunt at the request of the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW). Mr. Chilito is reported as stating that the investigation was prompted by NDOW game wardens because they, and the audience, "felt threatened" by the presence of the Native Americans at the March Commission meeting. When independently contacted, an NDOW staff member stated that he had no knowledge of any request by NDOW for the FBI to investigate Native American opponents of the Bear hunt. Mr. Chilito is also reported to have stated that he was also investigating members of NoBearHuntNV.org (NBHN).
Members of NBHN were present at the Commission meeting (March 23-24) when the Native Americans objected to the Bear hunt for religious reasons, and state that throughout the meeting the Native Americans were peaceful, respectful, and behaved no differently from any other attendees. Many members of the press from TV and newspapers were also present at the meetings, and were interviewing both Native Americans and members of NBHN throughout the day. A video of the Commission meeting, and the testimony of NBHN members and the Native Americans, is posted on the NDOW website.
NBHN believes it is outrageous that the FBI is investigating on the basis of someone "feeling threatened" at a public Commission meeting, when there were numerous armed game wardens present at the Commission meeting. NBHN believes that calling out the FBI to investigate opponents of the hunt is an act of political intimidation, meant to discourage all opponents of the hunt from exercising their First Amendment free speech rights, and to discourage Nevada citizens from further expressing their opposition to the Bear hunt to either the Wildlife Commission or the state legislature. NDOW's initiation of this investigation of bear hunt opponents is a clear indication of the extreme lengths to which backers of the bear hunt are willing to go to ensure that the bear hunt continues, despite overwhelming public opposition. NBHN is not impressed that the FBI has allowed themselves to be manipulated by supporters of the bear hunt.
NBHN states that being opposed to the Bear Hunt in Nevada is not a crime, nor is speaking out against the hunt during any public hearing before a state agency. If public opposition to the hunt is a crime, then 90% of Nevada citizens would be under investigation, which is the percentage of Nevada citizens that oppose the bear hunt.
NBHN has been opposing the bear hunt since December 2010, and has worked peacefully and professionally within the Department of Wildlife public process without incident for almost a year and a half. Members and supporters of NBHN have regularly attended and spoken at Wildlife Commission meetings, and at County Advisory Board meetings in Washoe, Douglas, Lyon, and Clark counties without incident. They have also called, talked with, emailed and met with NDOW staff on a regular basis. The Wildlife Commission is on the record as stating that they appreciate NBHN's engagement on this issue, as well as their presence and involvement at meetings.
NBHN fully supports Native American calls for a full and independent investigation as to who made the request to the FBI, on what grounds it was made, and why the Director of NDOW supported such a request. NBHN also questions what other organizations and individuals who have voiced opposition to the Bear Hunt are also under investigation, and if so, on what grounds.