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for people who care about the West

The man behind our new tribal affairs desk

Our latest letter to readers welcomes Tristan Ahtone to the team.


Can you believe it? High Country News is already halfway through its 22 issues for the year! After this issue, we’re taking a break, so don’t expect us in your mailbox for another four weeks. We’re gearing up for our annual June editorial retreat and board meeting, where the board, writers and editors mingle and talk shop.

Marjorie “Slim” Woodruff, a regular contributor to Writers on the Range, and her husband, Brad Houston, visited on a cloudy May afternoon. The two longtime readers live in Grand Canyon Village but stopped off on their way to a friend’s retirement party in Carbondale, Colorado. Next up is a five-day run down the Yampa River. Safe travels!

Ryan and Erica Wood stopped by on a warm June day, looking for winery recommendations. Ryan, who works for Watershed Management Group, and Erica, a freelance graphic designer, were traveling from their Scottsdale, Arizona, home to Rocky Mountain National Park and looking for quiet corners to check out. We pointed them to our favorite vintners and sent them on their merry way.

Mike Burkley also stopped by; he’s moving to Paonia from near Zion National Park, Utah. He’ll be closer to his daughter, who lives in Denver, and away from some of Utah’s conservation politics.

Finally, Bozeman, Montana, readers Marcia and Russell Miller visited en route to their niece’s wedding in Crested Butte.

Award-winning journalist Tristan Ahtone, a member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma, is joining us for the next two months to help us build out our coverage of tribes in the West. Since 2008, Tristan has reported for PBS Newshour, National Native News, Wyoming Public Radio, Fusion, the Fronteras Desk, NPR and Al Jazeera America. Tristan serves as vice president for the Native American Journalists Association. “I’m honored to join the High Country News team, and look forward to helping create coverage that fairly and accurately portrays Indigenous lives and stories in the West,” Tristan says.

Some sad news on HCN contributor and Oregon author Brian Doyle, who passed away at the age of 60 in May. He served as editor of Portland Magazine and wrote several award-winning novels, including Mink River, The Plover and Martin Marten, as well as dozens of essays. HCN was privileged to publish some of his work, including a heart-shivering essay on shrines to the dead, “Mute, riven, blessed” (HCN, 4/17/06). As he wrote in that piece, “We are alone, each and all of us, even as we swim in the ocean of love and grace that is our joyous work here; and we will die alone, each of us, leaving our bodies behind at some moment brooding in the future.”

And, lastly, our May 29 feature story “Cost of a Comeback” incorrectly described the composition of the Santa Catalina Mountains, which are mostly igneous and metamorphic rock, not sedimentary. We also misstated the source of transplanted sheep; they did not come from a captive-breeding facility, but from a herd in Yuma, Arizona. We regret the errors.