Magazine
End of the Line
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February 1, 2021

In this issue, we focus on some of the ways the ongoing transition away from coal will be felt across the West. Our feature story profiles Diné activist Nicole Horseherder and her long quest for an equitable energy economy on the Navajo Nation. A half-century ago, what law professor and scholar Charles Wilkinson dubbed the “Big Buildup” transformed the West’s energy economy; now, it’s coming to an end in the “Big Breakdown.” We talk to some of the workers at the Boardman coal-fired plant in Oregon, as it shutters. Elsewhere, in Wyoming, we look at how communities are turning to wind power to make ends meet as they figure out how to get by in a future less dependent on fossil fuels. In other news, we look at how Western tribes are taking over land-management responsibilities at places like Montana’s National Bison Refuge. And we examine the disturbing links between the attempted coup in Washington, D.C., and the right-wing extremism rooted in the West. Activist Jackie Fielder discusses housing inequities in the time of COVID-19, while in rural Colorado, we meet a unique group of LGBTQ+, anti-fascist, pro-gun ranchers who have put together a community of their own. Finally, we reflect on the legacy of legendary Western author William Kittredge and reconsider Joan Didion's vision of the West.

Feature

 The fight for an equitable energy economy for the Navajo Nation
The fight for an equitable energy economy for the Navajo Nation
Diné activist Nicole Horseherder’s long quest for equity from the rise and fall of the coal economy.

Reportage

New wind projects power local budgets in Wyoming
New wind projects power local budgets in Wyoming
As the pandemic hit the fossil fuel industry, renewable energy projects filled community coffers.
In cash-strapped Wyoming, a community votes for a new hospital
In cash-strapped Wyoming, a community votes for a new hospital
As the state cuts funding for public services, cities and counties are figuring out how to go it alone.
Meet the gun-toting ‘Tenacious Unicorns’ in rural Colorado
Meet the gun-toting ‘Tenacious Unicorns’ in rural Colorado
How a transgender-owned alpaca ranch in Colorado foretells the future of the rural queer West.
 Bears Ears is just the beginning
Bears Ears is just the beginning
As the Biden administration begins, tribal nations with ties to Utah assert their relationships to the land.
In Arizona, fighting a copper mine planned on sacred land
In Arizona, fighting a copper mine planned on sacred land
Oak Flat has been an important location to Indigenous peoples for millennia.
The Washington, D.C., siege has Western roots and consequences
The Washington, D.C., siege has Western roots and consequences
History and the growing power of right-wing extremism point to a volatile future for the West during the Biden presidency.
Reclaiming the National Bison Range
Reclaiming the National Bison Range
After decades of battling misinformation, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes recover their lands and the herd.

Editor's Note

Remembering coal
Remembering coal
A look at the end of an era and its transition.

Facts & Figures

Coal’s big breakdown
Coal’s big breakdown
A half-century ago, the ‘Big Buildup’ transformed the West; now, it’s all coming to an end.

Essays

The lessons on storytelling that William Kittredge taught
The lessons on storytelling that William Kittredge taught
The beloved teacher and writer was preoccupied with the particular.

Conversation

Is it time to decolonize the housing market?
Is it time to decolonize the housing market?
In California, COVID-19 is exacerbating housing inequities. Indigenous activist Jackie Fielder believes she has a solution.

Photo Essay

Workers reflect on Oregon’s first and last coal plant
Workers reflect on Oregon’s first and last coal plant
‘The people here made the plant. What we did is something that was needed.’

Perspective

Mountaintop removal threatens traditional Blackfoot territory
Mountaintop removal threatens traditional Blackfoot territory
Stop the Grassy Mountain coal project before it starts.
How Wyoming’s Black coal miners shaped their own history
How Wyoming’s Black coal miners shaped their own history
Many early Wyoming coal towns had thriving Black communities.

Review

Finding meaning on Joan Didion’s frontier
Finding meaning on Joan Didion’s frontier
With the release of a new collection, the 86-year-old author returns to her old work and a vast, complicated legacy.

Heard Around the West

Multipurpose microbes; therapeutic cows; a liberal’s passing
Multipurpose microbes; therapeutic cows; a liberal’s passing
Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.

Dear Friends

HCN in the 2000s
HCN in the 2000s
A look back at time when extraction was king and Jonathan Thompson was our editor-in-chief.
New interns join the team
New interns join the team
And our latest Virginia Spencer Davis Fellow is announced.

Letters

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