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star Opinion Tuesday, January 1. 1991 K$ Casper gtar-Crtbune AJQ-StaTrib 170 Star Lane, Box 80, Casper, WY 82602 307-266-0500 The Casper Daily Tribune Est. Oct. 9, 1916 by J.E. Hanway The Casper Star Est. in 1949 USPS 092-660 ' Published daily. Second Class Paid at Casper, ', Wyo. 82601 by Howard Publications. Inc. Copyright s 1991, Casper Star-Tribune So here's of the year's best By BILL YOUNGBLOOD Fort Worth Star-Telegram Perhaps it's a character defect peculiar to journalists, but for some reason, newspaper columnists find it necessary at year's end to publish a list of highlights of the preceding 365 days as if someone out there really cared about such things. The problem with most lists is that they appear to have been compiled by how high the events scored on a Gigantic Bore Meter. It's as though the people doing the compiling thumbed through a catalog of the year's occurrences and said, "Hey, here's something intensely boring, so naturally it will have to be included in the year's Top Ten list." That's why such things as Unrest in Moldavia make all those "Top Stories of 1 990" menus in spite of the fact that 95 percent of America's newspaper readers, if quizzed closely, woulif confess that they thought Moldavia was a dish to be studiously avoided at a Greek restaurant. In an effort to counter the trend toward including only sleep-inducing events in these mandatory year-end lists, let's take a nostalgic look back at some of the REALLY important stuff that took place during 1990: Indisputable proof that the Cold War was over came in March w ith the establishment, in Moscow, of the very first Rotary Club in the history of the Soviet Union. The fear that many Westerners have long harbored for the godless communist hordes quickly dissipated at the thought of all those beady-eyed KGB types standing together self-consciously and, as Rotarians in this country have been doing with gusto since 1 905, singing loudly and off-key and embarrassing each other in front of all their friends. Everybody slept a little better that night after we all stopped laughing. A search was launched in June by two researchers from Baylor College of Medicine for 1 6 people who would volunteer to spend a month in bed. While that may look, at first glance, like a chance for your weird brother-in-law to finally land a job he could handle, there is the slightest of catches. Researchers David Car-dus and Wesley McTaggart are looking for people who will not, under any circumstances, be allowed out of bed for an entire month and who w ill spend some of their time spinning around in a space-age sleep chamber not unlike those used in the movie "Aliens" (and if you saw that flick, you know that what happened to those poor suckers shouldn't even be wished upon a Russian Rotarian). The original 1 6 and, as far as I know, they have not yet been selected are all to be men, although the researchers say they might add "THtS VJltL MOT BE ANOTHER? VIETNAM. Robin Hurless Publisher Anne MacKinnon Editor that list some women to the program for later experimentation. Why the wait? You will surely be as moved as I was to place confidence in the people running the program when you learn the answer: "The physiology of the male and female is a little different," Cardus told reporters, proving conclusively that this is one guy you'd better not try to slip anything past. You were perhaps as surprised as I was at the revelation, around mid-year, that Americans, in a poll, selected Merck & Co. as the most-admired large company in the United States, followed, in order of receding admiration, by Phillip Morris. Rubbermaid, Proctor & Gamble, 3M, PepsiCo and Wal-Mart (a tie), Coca-Cola, Anheuser-Bush and Du Pont. This little bit of esoterica is included in an otherwise exclusive list of major happenings because I figure that you, even as I was, were surprised a) that people actually went around asking other people which large, cold, unfeeling corporation they admired more than others and b) that anybody could stop looking for the "Candid Camera" crew long enough to answer the question once it had been asked. I was further surprised to learn that such a poll is conducted annually. I must go to the wrong parties. My crowd hardly ever talks about which heartless corporation we like best, preferring such intellectual topics as Plato's realm of absolutes, the more intricate Pythag-orean theories, the ecological holocaust threatened by depletion of the ozone layer and the way Kathleen Turner's fanny looked in those white shorts in the opening scenes of "The Jewel of the Nile." This was the year, too, that the Society for Secular Armageddonism came up with the Hotline of Doom, which could be reached by dialing 1-4 15-673-DOOM. This 24-hour service is designed to provide callers with news and information related to the coming apocalypse, to which we are all looking forward with so much anticipation. According to the society's newsletter, the hotline "offers information on various global threats (e.g., deforestation, ozone loss, global complacency) that contribute to what the society believes is a headlong rush into the abyss." The society's motto is "Horresco refcrens," which means its newsletter claims (and who am I, who barely squeezed out a D in high school Latin, to argue?) "I shudder at the very thought of it." I would be inclined to take the society and its foreboding aims more seriously if it were headquartered someplace other than you guessed it California. (Bill Younghlood is an editorial writer and columnist for the Fort Worth Star- Telegram.) Wyoming: a new centennial By ROY A. JORDAN Special to the Star-Tribune One hundred years of active life deserves a celebration, but it also needs something more. Our path most often has been that of our past. We've defined ourselves by taking our values from our tradition; we confirm our own history. When a culture amounts to a collective popular memory there is the danger of becoming identified with your own ancestors. This can be the occasion to realize that we are not our past, that we are not only a state of mind, and that we have more to do. Wyoming history has become almost a contradiction in terms. Wyoming's history is a timeless world of the West "as it ought to have been." It creates a culture that informs us that little can be changed because it never has changed. Romantic history is dangerous history. The myth of an innocent pioneering has left a false impression of the uniqueness of our history; that "frontier" myth has been stressed so long as to make the state colorful, but it also causes it to be irrelevant at the same time. We have driven ourselves into something of a cultural cul-de-sac. This can be a time of recognition. We can fully acknowledge the steady contradiction of a male-dominated culture which at the same time has championed the myth of female rights. This culture has not been in touch with the idea of the female as an active participant in society. We also can give Indian people a voice. They have been seen as props in the Wyoming stage play; they are not props nor are they artifacts and relics. Indians have their own sovereignty and rights, their own history and culture. Indian people in Wyoming are not going away. Hispanic braceros, Chinese laborers, Blacks, and ethnic immigrants have not had a clean, tolerant time of it in Wyoming. Wyoming proudly points to its common culture, but the homogeneity that made it possible has not always been benevolent. Our past culture has told us that we have been dependent on the federal government and on outside, "foreign" industries. So we were. From the very beginning we have made positive use of the source with the most money to pay for what we didn't have. We have been well served, in this sense, by our own politicians, crafty enough to use their consummate talents to get others to invest their money. The reality of this "colonialism" is that we have benefitted from our relations with the federal government. And, if it weren't for those "outside" extractive industries we wouldn't have that huge stockpile of severance money that has allowed Wyoming to have the ninth largest investment portfolio in the nation. And, we can concede the fact that if the federal government didn't own half of the land within Wyoming's borders (another favorite lament) we wouldn't be eligible to receive those large royalty payments. When looked at from this positive perspective, perceptions begin to change drastically. Another reality we can admit is the set of dismal social statistics with which a romanticized history isn't prepared to deal: a tremendously high suicide rate, a traditionally high infant mortality rate, extraordinarily high teenage pregnancy rate, exceptionally low expenditures for public welfare, grossly inadequate care for the mentally ill, high divorce rate (40 percent higher than the U.S. average), one of the highest mileage death rates in the nation, high death rate in almost every category, and the highest overall drinking rate in the nation. These are not small problems, they're big problems. Our culture, and not our geography, created them. It can be fashioned to solve them. Wyoming was admitted to the Union on July 10, 1890, because President Benjamin Harrison want ed more Republican support and so that he could make more federal appointments. Idaho had been admitted seven days earlier for the same reasons. The open West was, as much as anything, a Manifest Destiny battleground for federal politicians to attain political party strength. That was, indeed, much of the purpose of the West as seen by eastern politicians. In Congress they feared for a while in 1890s, in light of Wyoming's Johnson County War in 1 892, the poor state economy and its low population that they had made a mistake. The nation's depression in 1 893 and Congress's own preoccupations allowed them to forget Wyoming. If Wyoming as a new state caused the U.S. Congress to have fleeting second thoughts, Wyoming as an official Territory a place on track to statehood bothered them even more. Even though the "organic act" creating territorial status was signed by President Andrew Johnson on July 25, 1 868, Wyoming was not truly organized as a Territory until April 17, 1869, nine months later. That too, was due to politics. In the first place, the Wyoming Territory was established to accommodate a private enterprise, a railroad the Union Pacific. Actually, of course, it was not too "private," for it was massively subsidized by the federal government with loans, land grants, and outright cash subsidies. Wyoming was built on federal "intervention" and financial support and that fact has been a lasting legacy. In any event, the first non-Indian pioneers in Wyoming were not the homesteader on his quarter section of bottom land but the gandy-dancers, head spikers, and tie hacks pounding their way across the barrens of southern Wyoming. The railroad preceded population; it created the first towns, drew up the first town charters, and was the first police force. Campaigns for woman suffrage were being conducted in Kansas in September and October of 1 867 by the famous and durable trio of Lucy Stone, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Even though those indomitable ladies came to Wyoming years after woman suffrage was recognized here, there were no suffragette meetings in Wyoming, no campaigns for the right to vote, no speeches or demonstrations. It has been well documented by a number of scholars that woman suffrage was recognized in Wyoming by men for male reasons. Granting women the right to vote here was little more than a public relations gimmick by the all male Territorial Legislature in the atavistic hope of luring a few more settlers to an almost depopulated Wyoming. That first Territorial Legislature in Cheyenne was all male and there was never a woman legislator in all the territorial years of 1869-1890. The legislators were also all Democrats, and that was to be the last time such a thing ever happened; a defining characteristic of Wyoming has been its reflexive Republicanism. Just as important as knowing that Wyoming achieved female suffrage is to know that it was almost lost. Again, hard politics was the cause not just the mechanics by which a reform came about. In the second session of the Territorial Legislature in 1 87 1 , the Democrat majority decided that the experiment had not worked the move had not attracted population. On top of that, they wanted to politically embarrass the appointed Republican Gov. John A. Campbell. They ended by embarrassing themselves. The bill to rescind woman suffrage was passed, Campbell vetoed it (due more to his own political rivalry with the Legislature than a conviction of social reform) and the Legislature fell just one vote shy of overriding his veto. Suffrage was saved in a process that had little to do with women's rights. The ruling Democrats did, however, rescind the 1869 law that allowed women to be represented on juries. Women did not serve on juries again until 1950! f In the process, the Democratic party got one of several black marks from which they have never recovered. They were perceived in Wyoming as the party opposed to women at least in politics. The Democrats deepened their problems at the next crucial turning point in Wyoming history, they went on record as opposing Wyoming statehood. They were doing it, of course, because Wyoming would surely come in as a Republican state and therefore benefit both the national and state Republicans. Even their state Republican opponents were amazed at their lack of political foresight. At one stroke, the Democrats made themselves appear disloyal to the new order being formed; they appeared to be irrelevant. And so, mostly, they have become. Republicans established their leadership and positive Wyoming attitude at the same time that the Democratic party declined. The Republicans have never lost that ascendancy. In politics, as in the culture, it's not what you in fact favor or hinder, it's what you appear to champion or obstruct. That's how mythologies and life-styles are created and sustained. Wyoming Democrats appeared to be less than loyal to the state's orthodoxies. Even to people who have lost the distant memory of who favored what on woman suffrage and statehood, Democrats in this state have never quite been able to shake the stigma of being something less than "patriotic." Politics and the perceived posture of its parties and leaders formed the social culture of this state and not the other way around. Politics preceded the culture and developed the part of Wyoming that is a state of mind. It is a good time to recognize that cultures are created organic, living, and changeable and this state's culture, its expression of itself, came early and has changed little. Wyoming has always tended to see itself as a new land, and while that self-evaluation is superficial in a sense it's right. History came late to Wyoming and left early. If we're facing the reality of old myths, then we should, as a state, finally recognize that the heritage of the earliest woman suffrage which we have pointed to so proudly rests on a flimsy foundation of less than distinguished politics. We need to forsake much of the "sunbonnet" myth of women's primary place in the forming history of Wyoming. Esther Morris, the "first woman judge" in the nation was appointed to her job, not popularly elected; she held the position of justice of the peace for 712 months and she did not get reappointed. Nellie Tayloe Ross, "the first female governor in the nation" was elected to fill out the term of her popular husband. She performed well, but could not even get the nomination of her party for re-election. Wyoming has had no women elected to national office, and it wasn't until 1910 that the first woman was elected to the Wyoming Legislature since IS69. There has never been a woman on the State Supreme Court and it wasn't until 1982 that a woman was first appointed as a district judge. There were no women delegates to the state constitutional convention in 1 889, In a recent survey taken by the National Organization of Women, Wyoming ranked 39th in women's rights. Low population, harsh climate, few available resources and a collection of overly rowdy people (nearly all male) did almost bring an end to Wyoming Territory as an official place in 1871. President Grant was so dissatisfied with the unruliness of the white people, the worrisome Indian tribes, and the apparent uselcss-ness of the huge quadrangle of land that he gave serious consideration to dismantling Wyoming completely and giving the land parcels back to the original territories of Utah, Idaho, and Montana. Luckily for Wyoming's future, cattle herds began to come and they would establish a sense of stability and order. But, these events were going to leave a lasting impression here. Wyoming's politics and culture was reflection going to be defensive and angry toward the federal government for so cavalierly considering our demise; fear of the political and economic fragility of Wyoming has remained to the present day. Cattle, ranching, and the cowboy earned a special place in Wyoming's collective consciousness, but perhaps for political reasons. Taken together they were seen as something of a "sagebrush savior" because they had helped to ensure that Wyoming would be Wyoming. That implicit, unarticulated cultural judgment still has an immensely strong polar pull for people in Wyoming. The bald reality says that we may as well deal with the fact that Wyoming always has had a low human count. The state ranks last in numbers and has continuously lingered in that vicinity. Geography has certain imperatives. Wyoming began its political and cultural life as a territory organized in 1 869, and by then it had already, technically, been governed by Great Britain, France, Spain, Mexico, and the Texas Republic as well as the United States. It had also been answerable to 1 0 different territories of the United States. A large part in the north of the territory was subject to federal treaties with Indian tribes. The federal government had army forts and installations within its borders that were not under state control. Well over half of the land was still owned by the federal government and was not available for state taxation or control. All of this did not add up to a light-hearted beginning. There was animosity with the federal government and distrust of about everything else. The Native American Indian population was not large in early days and it isn't now. At statehood, for example, there were 1 ,850 Indian people by official count (probably low), with a few more Arapaho than Shoshone. Today, there are about 7,125 or about 1.5 percent of the state's population. A celebration of Wyoming's history and legacy would be incomplete and unfinished without a recognition of the Indian people living within its borders. As non-Indians ponder their 100 years here. Indians ponder their more than 100 years in the same area. Theirs is a celebration of survival. Wyoming has a long cultural memory of its own fragility, as in 1871 when its very existence was almost extinguished and even 1890, when Congress thought they might have made a mistake. Wyoming's defensiveness and its touchiness to outside "interference" is usually symbolized by the federal government and it is historically understandable. The irony is that the Indian's preoccupations, past and present, are exactly the same. They know just assuredly that Congress can take their land away. The Indians don't trust the state nor the federal government and we can hardly blame them. The state in the past continually demanded that the size of the reservation be reduced; it was, three different times. They asked that land within the reservation be made available for non-Indian settlement; it was. A recognition of Indian struggles for their own existence, sovereignty and self-government can be a positive step for both cultures. When state officials are wrangling with the tribes over water rights given to Indians in 1989 by the U.S. Supreme Court, they are not speaking to a body with less authority and power, but to a co-equal, separate "nation." That realization of status has not yet penetrated. The dream of the future for American Indians is not the same as the American Dream. After 100 years of bristling distrust, it is a time for mutual cultural awareness. (Roy A. Jordan teaches history at Northwest College in Powell. He co-authored a textbook. Discovering Wyoming, 19H9. He was born on a ranch near Ten Sleep.) (The full version of this article was first published in the Fall 1990 issue of Annals of Wyoming.)

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