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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

High Country News Classifieds
  • GUIDE TO WESTERN NATIONAL MONUMENTS
    NEW BOOK showcases 70 national monuments across the western United States. Use "Guide10" for 10% off at cmcpress.org
  • CARBON RANCH PLANNER
    The Quivira Coalition (www.quiviracoaltion.org) is a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that builds resilience on arid working lands. We foster ecological, economic, and social health through education,...
  • EDUCATION AND OUTREACH DIRECTOR
    Education and Outreach Program Director The Quivira Coalition (www.quiviracoaltion.org) is a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that builds resilience on arid working lands. We foster ecological, economic,...
  • WESTERN DIVISION DIRECTOR OF FIELD PROGRAMS
    DEADLINE TO APPLY: October 29, 2021 LOCATION FLEXIBLE (WESTERN HUB CITY PREFERRED) Overview The Land Trust Alliance is the voice of the land trust community....
  • COMMUNICATIONS AND OUTREACH ASSOCIATE
    Communications and Outreach Associate Position Opening: www.westernlaw.org/communications-outreach-associate ************************************************* Location: Western U.S., ideally in one of WELC's existing office locations (Santa Fe or Taos, NM, Helena,...
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    High Country News (HCN) is seeking a contract Graphic Designer & Project Coordinator to design promotional, marketing and fund-raising assets and campaigns, and project-manage them...
  • FILM AND DIGITAL MEDIA: ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF INDIGENOUS MEDIA, CULTURAL SOVEREIGNTY AND DECOLONIZATION (INITIAL REVIEW 12.1.21)
    Film and Digital Media: Assistant Professor of Indigenous Media, Cultural Sovereignty and Decolonization (Initial Review 12.1.21) Position overview Position title: Assistant Professor - tenure-track Salary...
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    To learn more about this position and to apply please go to the following URL.
  • ENVIRONMENTAL GEOPHYSICS
    "More Data, Less Digging" Find groundwater and reduce excavation costs!
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    40 acres: 110 miles from Tucson: native trees, grasses: birder's heaven::dark sky/ borders state lease & National forest/5100 ft/13-16 per annum rain
  • CENTRAL PARK CULTURAL RESOURCE SPECIALIST
    Agency: Oregon Parks and Recreation Department Salary Range: $5,203 - $7,996 Position Title: Central Park Cultural Resource Specialist Do you have a background in Archaeology...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    Come live and work in one of the most beautiful places in the world! As our Staff Attorney you will play a key role in...
  • ARIZONA GRAZING CLEARINGHOUSE
    Dedicated to preventing the ecological degradation caused by livestock grazing on Arizona's public lands, and exposing the government subsidies that support it.
  • OPERATIONS MANAGER
    Position Summary: Friends of the Inyo (friendsoftheinyo.org) is seeking a new Operations Manager. The Operations Manager position is a full-time permanent position that reports directly...
  • WATER RIGHTS BUREAU CHIEF
    Water Rights Bureau Chief, State of Montana, DNRC, Water Resources Division, Helena, MT Working to support and implement the Department's mission to help ensure that...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Amargosa Conservancy (AC), a conservation nonprofit dedicated to standing up for water and biodiversity in the Death Valley region, seeks an executive director to...
  • DEVELOPMENT & OUTREACH ASSOCIATE
    Southeast Alaska Conservation Council is hiring! Who We Are: The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC) is a small grassroots nonprofit based out of Juneau, Alaska,...
  • DESERT LANDS ORGANIZER
    Position Summary: Friends of the Inyo seeks a Desert Lands Organizer to assist with existing campaigns that will defend lands in the California desert, with...
  • IDAHO CONSERVATION LEAGUE
    Want to help preserve Idaho's land, water, and air for future generations? Idaho Conservation League currently has 3 open positions. We are looking for a...
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