Ten months after Ammon and Ryan Bundy staged an armed occupation of an Eastern Oregon wildlife sanctuary, some of their allies have abandoned them, and almost a dozen fellow occupiers have pleaded guilty to federal charges.

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PORTLAND — It has been a difficult few months for the Bundys.

Ten months after two brothers from this country’s most notorious ranching family staged an audacious, armed occupation of an Eastern Oregon wildlife sanctuary, their call to shift federal land to local control has softened to a whisper. Some of their allies have abandoned them, and almost a dozen fellow occupiers have pleaded guilty to federal charges.

Outside the downtown courthouse where Ammon and Ryan Bundy and five others are on trial for conspiracy, their supporters have dwindled to a handful of self-described patriots carrying pocket Constitutions and lamenting their shrunken ranks.

“I had hoped there would be hundreds of people here, but there’s not,” said Jason Patrick, 44, tugging on a cigarette not far from a Black Lives Matter rally that had more than 100 participants. “Why wouldn’t you come to the most pressing court case of your time?”

Standoff in Oregon

It is a long way down the mountain from the weeks in January when the Bundys drove around the snow-covered refuge in cowboy hats, leading daily news conferences for an international audience and propagating a vision of a West in which the federal authorities owned little of the land.

As he sits facing an American flag in a federal courthouse, Ammon Bundy, 41, is choosing to wear blue-and-pink prison scrubs and depict himself as a political prisoner. Judge Anna J. Brown, however, has repeatedly rejected his lawyer’s attempts to turn the trial into a referendum on land control, chiding attorney Marcus R. Mumford each time he strays from the central question: Did the occupiers conspire to prevent federal workers from doing their jobs?

“The ownership of the refuge is not up for discussion,” Brown told Mumford last week, when he asked a refuge employee on the witness stand about land acquisition. “Please move on.”

The Bundys and their co-defendants face up to six years in prison. Eleven other occupiers have pleaded guilty, and most are in custody pending a sentencing hearing. Seven others will go to trial in February.

And those who have not been indicted are scattered around the country, wondering when their turn will come.

“They’re probably going to arrest me,” said one of them, Case Fisher, 33, a former machine operator who joined the occupation after learning about it from internet videos. He said he has bounced from state to state since the takeover, finding work off the books and avoiding putting his name on a lease.

“You’re always looking over your shoulder,” he said, adding a note of defiance. “We’ll never be defeated. You can’t defeat an idea and a cause.”

The Bundys became anti-government sensations in 2014 after federal agents tried to seize cattle that the government says their father, Cliven, had been grazing illegally on public acres.

Hundreds of supporters came to the family’s aid, some taking sniper positions on a highway bridge near the family’s Nevada ranch. Authorities, fearing bloodshed, eventually backed away.

The episode — and the fact the Bundys were not arrested — emboldened activists in pockets of the West where anger at the federal government has long run deep.

But some of the militia groups who came to the Bundys’ side in 2014 have criticized the family’s actions this year. The first standoff was about defending their lives and property, the logic goes. In the second case, they sought out trouble far from home, a provocation that ended in arrests and the death of a charismatic leader, LaVoy Finicum.

“Ammon Bundy and his father basically handed their heads on the platter to the federal government,” said Stewart Rhodes, 51, the founder of a militia group called the Oath Keepers, which claims 35,000 members across the country.

The Oath Keepers were active in Nevada, he said, but he told members to stick to the sidelines in Oregon. “It was an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ viewpoint: ‘This land is ours, now that we occupy it.’ ”

The Oregon occupation has also complicated the political landscape for state leaders who have attempted to use legitimate means to acquire federal land.

The so-called land-transfer movement has gained traction among some conservatives because federal acres contain rich troves of timber, ore and grazing grass, and certain state officials believe they should be able to decide what happens to those resources.

“What the Bundys did was draw attention to that,” said Jennifer Fielder, a Republican state senator from Montana who heads a pro-transfer group called the American Lands Council.

“But in some ways, it was very negative attention, unfortunately. The majority of us are committed to a civil process that is going to be peaceful and isn’t going to get anybody killed.”