Writings and observations

carlson CHRIS


Cheers. . . . . to Boise Mayor David Bieter who took advantage of some face time with President Barack Obama on Air Force #1 while flying to Boise to lobby for the President to utilize his authority under the Antiquities Act to make the Boulder/White Clouds a National Monument. The President can and will give Rep. Mike Simpson the six months he has requested to get a new bill through the House after Senator Jim Risch six years ago went back on his word and put a hold on the bill Simpson had worked out with all the interest groups and was ten years in the making. Risch remains a road block in the Senate so even if Simpson gets his revised bill through the House he still has to overcome Risch before something is on the President’s desk. You can bet your last dollar though that if there is no Boulder/White Clouds bill on Obama’s desk as his term winds down, there will be national monument declared under the Antiquities Act.

Cheers. . . .also to former Governor Cecil D. Andrus, Idaho Conservation League Executive Director Rick Johnson and to Roberta Crockett, all of whom mentioned to the President while he was in Boise the need to protect the Boulder/White Clouds.

Jeers. . . .to Lt. Gov. Brad Little, who, as Acting Governor with Gov. Otter recovering from a hip operation, greeted the President when he landed in Boise. Little used his face time to lobby the President against a Monument declaration. Little should not be carrying Sandra Mitchell’s brief case nor carrying water for the snowmobilers and ATV users she represents who think it is their God-given right to run anywhere they want, anytime they want in Idaho’s vast backcountry. Brad should be aligning himself with Rep. Simpson and not the troglodites like Senator Jim Risch.

Cheers. . . . . .again to Governor Andrus, and add Governor Phil Batt, for once again standing up to the federal government and saying no to additional spent fuel alledgedly for research purposes. The Batt agreement is working and Idaho should not grant waivers for any reason.

Rest assured Andrus, who had some time with the President, also touched on the subject of nuke waste with the President. Though Andrus seldom mentions what he says to any President, always treating such conversations as private and privileged, don’t be surprised if the Energy Secretry doesn’t get an order from the White House to back off plans to bring two shipments of 25 spent fuel rods each to Idaho, at least until the department has answered the pointed questions Andrus sent on behalf of himself and Batt to the Governor’s office and the Department of Energy on January 22nd.

Jeers. . . . to the City of Boise. Or cheers if you lean towards secular humanism. Despite a heavy concentration of Mormons and Catholics in Idaho, the state’s largest metropolitan area failed to make it anywhere on Christianity Today’s recently published list of the 100 most Bible-oriented communities in the nation. Study was based on the percentage of population that reads the Bible at least once a week.

Not surprisingly the top of the list came right out of the old southern Bible Belt with Birmingham/Tuscalosa being number #1. Folks there must really pray hard and read the Bible often so as to keep their beloved Tide football program on top.

How does one explain the nation’s acknowledged sin cities—Las Vegas (#95), New York City (#91) and San Francisco (#97), in effect finishing higher and thus more Bible-reading and less sinful behaving than Boise?

And Salt Lake City, the St. Peter’s of the LDS Church, came in at #90, right there with the Big Apple, and behind the nation’ s capital that was placed at #85?

Apparently in Boise there aren’t enough good Catholics, Protestants and Mormons (as defined by whether they are judged worthy of the “temple pass”) who while they may practice the exhortation in Section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants appear not to read their Bible as much as they read their Book of Mormon.

The most Bible reading city in the northwest surprisingly was Spokane at #52. Those who spend time in both Boise and Spokane will question the survey just on that ranking alone, as Spokane seems far more secular than Boise.

Go figure. Lists like this one always create more questions than provide real answers.

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trahant MARK


It’s time for State of the Unions. President Barack Obama, of course, on Tuesday. Then, a variety of state reports across the country. And, on Thursday, Indian Country’s national version, the State of Indian Nations. National Congress of American Indians President Brian Cladoosby spent about an hour talking about some of the challenges facing the more than five hundred tribal governments.

“Today, I bring a simple message from the tribes of the 21st Century: We must tear down barriers to growth, simplify regulations that are limiting opportunities, and acknowledge that tribes have the capability as governments to oversee our own affairs,” Cladoosby said. “Congress and the administration need to find ways to help bring federal agencies out of the 19th Century and into the 21st Century. We need them to be partners for growth and not barriers to growth.”

President Cladoosby’s talk covered much ground — a lot of material critical to tribal governments, such as rethinking the federal-trust relationship, an invitation for leaders of Congress to visit Indian Country, and for Washington’s NFL franchise to finally, finally, change its name.

I’d like to expand on two themes from the State of the Indian Nations speech — youth and technology.

The most common age in America today is 22 years old. This year, 2015, the Millennial Generation will pass the Baby Boomers as the largest-age group in the country. Indian Country is even younger than the rest of the nation. The American Indian Alaska Native population from birth through age 24 makes up 42 percent of the total Native American population (compared to about a third for country as a whole.)

We are at a moment in history where we really ought to be investing more resources in young people. Yet, instead, as President Obama said in his State of the Union, we’re loading up this generation with student debt — a total that now exceeds a trillion dollars. This is the logic behind the president’s call to make community college free. A proposal that will benefit Indian Country, including tribal colleges and universities.

But this is also about technology. We need a structure to prepare people for jobs that don’t yet exist.

This is what President Cladoosby said: “The last technology census of tribal nations took place before Google, Twitter, or smart phones even existed. The best data we do have indicates an ongoing digital divide. While 73 percent of Americans have access to broadband, in Indian Country, it’s only 10 percent …

“We need a comprehensive and updated study of our technology needs to advance more common sense initiatives like this one to increase our participation in the Digital Age.”

We do need more information. The Digital Age doesn’t look like it did even ten years ago. Back then “The Facebook” was a new startup — and certainly not much of a presence in Indian Country. Today Facebook is in most homes, on our phones, and a presence linking Native America in ways that television networks never did. On social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Native Americans are creating, telling stories, and building communities. This is just the beginning of this digital age.

It’s not just social media either. It’s a whole of commerce, activity, and potential.

So what does it mean? Well, once we figure out how to unlock these digital tools we will never again be faced with watching our children leave a community just to get a job. We can create our own jobs. Anywhere. In a village in Alaska, a reservation in Montana, or, yes, in a city. But the choice will be ours.

But for that to happen we need to prepare young people better. They need to have a bundle of tools, ranging from computer science to video production.

Some of this preparation starts with schools. Helping young people get basic skills in math, science and writing. But much of this Digital Age starts with imagination.

The beauty is that we now live in a world where storytelling is a value. And that’s a value that Indian Country already understands and has for thousand of years.

Mark Trahant holds the Atwood Chair at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He is an independent journalist and a member of The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. For up-to-the-minute posts, download the free Trahant Reports app for your smart phone or tablet.

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Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Tuition raises go partly for pay raises (Boise Statesman)
Looking at the cost of Obama’s Idaho trip (Boise Statesman)
Obamacare easing pressure in indigent care program (Nampa Press Tribune, Lewiston Tribune)
Regents at WSU may ban tobacco on campus (Moscow News)
How safe are Moscow crosswalks? (Moscow News)
Add the words hearing set for Monday (Nampa Press Tribune)
New Nampa office building opens for St. Alphonsus (Nampa Press Tribune)
Obama says he’ll work on freeing Idaho pastor (Pocatello Journal)
President at Eastern Idaho Tech likes free college (Pocatello Journal)
Rangen water call stayed in SRBA court (TF Times News)
State says wolf population high enough to avoid feds (TF Times News)

Eugene utility exec once fired, now rehired (Eugene Register Guard)
Funds arrived for Swanson mill rebuild (Eugene Register Guard)
Two UO librarians questioned about doc leak (Eugene Register Guard)
Oregon Tech trustees hold initial meeting (KD Herald & News)
Series of quakes erupt in S-Central OR desert (KF Herald & News)
Protest arrive over natural gas pipeline (Medford Tribune)
Possible closure ahead for asphalt plant (Medford Tribune)
Pendleton parents want pot kept away from kids (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Minimum wage at $15 would add $49 a month (Portland Oregonian)
Orenco nature park makes progress (Portland Oregonian)
Who should decide on school mascots? (Salem Statesman Journal)
Area C in Keizer might be developed (Salem Statesman Journal)

Root rot leads to chopping park trees (Bremerton Sun)
Narrows ferry tolls go up on July 1 (Bremerton Sun)
More bridge work planned at Everett (Everett Herald)
Everett city turns down county new courthouse plan (Everett Herald)
Counting the local homeless at Everett (Everett Herald)
Temporary Wyerhaeuser layoffs scheduled (Longview News)
Kalakala goes on its final trip (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Lucky Eagle casino slated for expansion (Olympian)
Bird quarantine set for Agnew area (Port Angeles News)
Tab for Bertha goes mostly to the state (Seattle Times)
State fair set to expand in 2016 (Tacoma News Tribune)
Fisher CEO says local economy looking good (Vancouver Columbian)
Medical pot under more review at Olympia (Yakima Herald Republic)
How about ballots with return postage? (Yakima Herald Republic)
Solid job improvement through 2014 (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take