BURNS, Ore., Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Oregon police arrested one of the armed protesters occupying Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Friday.
Kenneth Medenbach, 62, was the first of the group to be arrested after he attempted to purchase supplies from a Safeway grocery store in a vehicle bearing federal government license plates, officials said. Medenbach is being held at Deschutes County jail with a $10,000 bond on a charge of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. He faces up to five years in prison.
Medenbach's arrest came the same day as Burns Paiute Tribal Chair Charlotte Rodrique pleaded to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services for federal action against the protesters to defend the tribe's cultural resources.
The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge contains the historic home of the tribe, including more than 300 burial grounds and ancient villages, as well as 4,000 tribal artifacts.
Rodrique and other tribal leaders believe the protester's actions violate the Archaeological Resources Protection Act.
"Armed protesters don't belong here," Rodrique said. "They continue to desecrate one of our most important sacred sites. They should be held accountable."
Their concern was escalated after photos showed the occupiers using heavy equipment to forge new roads on sections of the property that contain ancestral remains.
"They've got their horse running around there," Tribal Council member Jarvis Kennedy told the Washington Post. "Who knows what they're stomping on?"