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Democracy's Frayed Western Front
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October 1, 2020

As this highly anticipated election draws ever closer, High Country News takes a look at how the campaign season has been affecting parts of the West. Portland, Oregon’s political landscape was rocked when federal troops brought tear gas to the #BlackLivesMatter protests, but it’s anyone’s guess how, or whether, the turmoil will affect the upcoming mayoral election. In Nevada, young canvassers are working to get out the Latino vote, while a decades-long battle over the Las Vegas Pipeline finally comes to a peaceful conclusion. Our feature story from Grand Junction, Colorado, the new headquarters of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, considers how the presidential candidates’ competing energy goals will impact the West’s economy and public lands. Elsewhere, we examine census data showing how rural counties benefit from counting incarcerated individuals in the counties where they’re imprisoned instead of the ones where their homes are located. In Indian Country, the disrupted census count is likely to leave tribal nations underrepresented and underfunded, while in Alaska, 11 tribes are pushing for a better environmental consultation process. Finally, we review Ruthie Fear, a new novel that confronts gentrification in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley, and White Utopias, a nonfiction book about cultural appropriation at festivals like Burning Man.

Feature

Energy dominance or climate action: Trump, Biden and the fate of public lands
Energy dominance or climate action: Trump, Biden and the fate of public lands
In Grand Junction, Colorado, the presidential election is a choice between two distinct energy futures.

Reportage

Killing the Vegas Pipeline
Killing the Vegas Pipeline
Nevada’s attitude toward water is changing.
Will Portland’s summer of unrest reshape city politics?
Will Portland’s summer of unrest reshape city politics?
November’s election will test how protests shift political power.
Former California prisoners may become professional wildfire fighters
Former California prisoners may become professional wildfire fighters
Amid a raging fire season and pandemic, the Western U.S. seeks experienced fire crews to battle its conflagrations.
An inaccurate census has major implications for Indian Country
An inaccurate census has major implications for Indian Country
Indigenous people are frequently undercounted, undermining political power and representation.
11 Alaska Native tribes offer new way forward on managing the Tongass
11 Alaska Native tribes offer new way forward on managing the Tongass
The proposal comes after a failed consultation process of ‘one way communication’ over the Tongass National Forest.
Young and politically empowered in Arizona
Young and politically empowered in Arizona
Latino canvassers push to get out the vote.
What sewage can tell us about the spread of COVID-19
What sewage can tell us about the spread of COVID-19
More cities are testing wastewater, but a poor federal response keeps efforts scattered.
Federal boots on city streets
Federal boots on city streets
With Congress gridlocked and courts restrained, public opinion confronts authoritarian tactics.

Editor's Note

Democracy is fraying in the West, too
Democracy is fraying in the West, too
Why your vote matters this election above all.

Facts & Figures

When ‘usual  residence’  is a prison
When ‘usual residence’ is a prison
Census method of counting prisoners distorts demographics.

Essays

When home is next to an oil refinery
When home is next to an oil refinery
All I knew about Wilmington, California, was poverty, so I long hid my connection to it.
COVID-era lessons from homeschool
COVID-era lessons from homeschool
Don’t be terrified. Be ready.

Conversation

Tribal nations face continued voter suppression
Tribal nations face continued voter suppression
A new book explains barriers at the ballot box.

Photo Essay

A turning point in Nevada
A turning point in Nevada
Lessons from the Sanders campaign.

Perspective

Sage advice
Sage advice
The ecological and ethical problems of ‘smudging.’

Review

In a small Montana town, there’s a thing with feathers. Hope? Not so much.
In a small Montana town, there’s a thing with feathers. Hope? Not so much.
Maxim Loskutoff’s debut novel explores the fraught history of the Bitterroot Valley.
Is spiritual growth possible without confronting whiteness?
Is spiritual growth possible without confronting whiteness?
In ‘White Utopias,’ cultural appropriation at festivals like Burning Man goes under the microscope.

Heard Around the West

App astray; mockingbirds avenged; junk shot
App astray; mockingbirds avenged; junk shot
Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.

Dear Friends

High Country News in the ’70s
High Country News in the ’70s
The HCN community reflects on the ‘Me Decade.’
HCN mourns the passing of Norman Harry
HCN mourns the passing of Norman Harry
Leader of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe was known for his lack of pretense.

Letters

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