Magazine
Holding Fast
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April 1, 2021

In this issue, we bring you not one but two feature stories: The first dives into the Chinook Nation’s century-long battle for federal recognition, while the second looks at how a proposed land exchange in McCall, Idaho, pushed the locals to seek new ways to preserve public access. In reportage, we learn how Colorado gets stuck with the cleanup bill when energy companies abandon old oil and gas wells. The Biden administration faces major decisions on issues affecting tribal lands and water, and a new report focuses on internet infrastructure in Indian Country. With traditional sources of conservation funding dwindling, we ponder a difficult question: Who should pay to preserve the West’s land and wildlife? Elsewhere, we discuss Montana’s new anti-trans legislation and delve into the shadowy history of Albuquerque’s racist housing market. Our “Facts and Figures” department explains how the West’s unusually deadly avalanche season is, ironically, largely due to the region’s low snowfall. We talk to Kathy Reed, who hopes to carry on the legacy of Alma Smith Jacobs, Montana’s first Black librarian, and we review two promising debut novels, along with a thriller by a young Indigenous filmmaker. Finally, in “Heard around the West,” we learn that mountain lions don’t belong in basements, and that it’s not necessarily a good idea to invite large wildlife to a big backyard buffet.

Feature

Idaho state lands could end up in private hands
Idaho state lands could end up in private hands
How a developer’s proposed large land swap ignited a fight in small but growing McCall.
The ‘slow-motion genocide’ of the Chinook Indian Nation
The ‘slow-motion genocide’ of the Chinook Indian Nation
Federal recognition provides tribes with critical healthcare and education. What happens to the tribal nations that the U.S. refuses to recognize?

Reportage

Who should pay for conservation?
Who should pay for conservation?
Traditional sources of funding are dwindling, and some believe park visitors should step up.
Montana trans, two spirit and non-binary activists fight anti-trans legislation
Montana trans, two spirit and non-binary activists fight anti-trans legislation
Their advocacy network is striving for a more equitable state while building power across issue lines.
Energy companies have left Colorado with billions of dollars in oil and gas cleanup
Energy companies have left Colorado with billions of dollars in oil and gas cleanup
As the state tries to reform its relationship to drilling, an expensive task awaits.
Albuquerque’s racist history haunts its housing market
Albuquerque’s racist history haunts its housing market
Policymakers and activists fight to remove pro-segregation, anti-immigrant provisions from property deeds.
Under Biden, the BLM backtracks on Hammond grazing permit
Under Biden, the BLM backtracks on Hammond grazing permit
Days before their herd was set to return to public lands near Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, two fire-starting ranchers lose their grazing rights.
The Biden administration’s critical role in  Indian Country
The Biden administration’s critical role in Indian Country
Four important decisions will impact the forests, lands and waters of tribal nations.
Bridging the digital divide in Indian Country
Bridging the digital divide in Indian Country
A new report focuses on internet infrastructure on tribal lands and how tribes can use it to strengthen their sovereignty.

Editor's Note

The importance of being seen
The importance of being seen
Recognition affects the preservation of culture, land and political agency.

Facts & Figures

This year’s deadly avalanche season
This year’s deadly avalanche season
Low snowfall has led to catastrophic conditions around the West.

Conversation

Honoring Montana’s first Black librarian
Honoring Montana’s first Black librarian
Carrying on the legacy of Alma Smith Jacobs requires representation and education.

Perspective

How to reverse Trump’s harmful legacy on conservation
How to reverse Trump’s harmful legacy on conservation
President Biden is off to a good start, but there is much to be done. The Restoration Project has a blueprint.

Review

Across generations, Dakota women grow resilience
Across generations, Dakota women grow resilience
Diane Wilson’s new novel explores the relationship between seeds and humans, and how our survival and abundance are intertwined.
Modern redemption in a small New Mexican town
Modern redemption in a small New Mexican town
Kirstin Valdez Quade’s debut novel depicts everyday Catholicism in a struggling family.
‘Wild Indian’ is much more than just an Indigenous film
‘Wild Indian’ is much more than just an Indigenous film
Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr.’s new picture pushes Indigenous cinema into the realm of the thriller genre, but does it go far enough?

Heard Around the West

A punchy cougar; wildlife comms; COVID-safe hugs
A punchy cougar; wildlife comms; COVID-safe hugs
Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.

Dear Friends

Take us to the top
Take us to the top
As we pass the tree line, help us summit.
Looking for leaders
Looking for leaders
Our thanks to retiring board members and a quest for new people to help the organization set course.

Letters

High Country News Classifieds
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