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Know the West

Focus on journalism


I am usually excited to receive High Country News each month and read about the important issues across our beloved American West. I am therefore disappointed in your choice to include cartoons as a cover story (“Nizhóní Girls,” HCN, 2/4/19). I did not learn anything new or gain a greater appreciation for the Navajo culture. To me, the story could be told more effectively through another medium or different media outlet. I read the editor’s note to try and understand the rationale behind publishing this cartoon, but am still at a loss about the purpose of its inclusion. Obviously, this is only my opinion and other readers probably have a greater appreciation. However, I wonder what Tom Bell would think, especially when considering the unprecedented threats against our public lands and waters. Therefore, I encourage you to focus on journalism.

Phil Baigas
Boulder, Colorado

Editor’s response: While it’s important that HCN cover core issues, we believe that the myriad communities of the West deserve to have their voices centered in the magazine. Visual journalism has a long history in Indian Country, and we chose to honor that history, while highlighting a group of women as both role models to some and reminders to others that the West’s cultures continue to evolve. Readers who care about the West will benefit by seeing the region as a whole. Someone who is interested in access to public lands, for example, might want to better understand the issues important to his Native American neighbors; likewise, a community group that advocates for water conservation should be conversant in the issues important to the Native, senior rights holders they’ll likely be working with. Otherwise, we’ll all be talking past each other at a critical time for the West.