How much does it cost Wyoming to hate Obama?

Refusing to hand Obama a success, Wyoming leaders refused to extend unemployment benefits, run our own health exchange, or expand help for sick, poor people.

Kerry Drake’s brilliant column in WyoFile. Drake is also the editor of The Casper Citizen, a non-profit, community newspaper.

Hint: It costs Wyoming a hell of a lot. 

An Eastern Shoshone healthcare worker on the Wind River Indian Reservation explains historic trauma to a white reporter:

“Let’s do an exercise,” Goggles suggested . She spoke, as she usually does, with the upbeat energy of a good kindergarten teacher. But she doesn’t spend her days with bright-eyed five-year-olds. Her work is instead mostly concerned with drug- and alcohol-addicted adults.

“What are the three most important things in the world to you?” she asked.

“My wife, son and wide-open spaces,” I replied.

“Great,” said Goggles. “Let’s see, I’m going to kill your wife. I’m going to take your son away and beat him until he stops acting like you. Oh, and all the wide-open space is mine now. You have to stay inside this fence for the rest of your life. Okay? Still on board? Now fast-forward a generation. Hi, I’ll be looking after your health care.” That she delivered the rhetorical blow with her characteristic cheeriness made it all the more jarring.

Read more at WyoFile.

Pure Poverty: ‘If you don’t have money, you don’t have health care’
Asked later that day to name the greatest challenge to Native health equity in Wyoming, Richard Brannan identified the common ancestor behind all those barriers. The busy murmur of side conversations and the clinking of dishes fell away as Brannan stood to deliver his answer into the handheld microphone. Thirteen years with the Indian Health Service, most of them as CEO of the Wind River Service Unit, had, along with his history as chairman, vice-chairman and business council member of the Northern Arapaho tribe, earned Mr. Brannan a seat on the expert’s panel in a ballroom full of experts at the Native American Health Equity Conference in Riverton. At 60, he is practiced at speaking his mind. People who know him are accustomed to listening when he does. “Poverty” Brannan said. “Just pure, pure, poverty. If you don’t have money, you don’t have health care.”

Ten murals adorn the walls of the Wind River Casino’s newly renovated dining room. The casino, operated by the Northern Arapaho Tribe, is just outside Riverton, Wyoming, on the Wind River Reservation. 

From WyoFile:

[The murals] have layers and layers of imagery: maps, photographs, petroglyphs, words. The words would sound too simple if they weren’t embedded in a dense world of bugling elk, kids playing basketball, stained glass (from St. Stephens Church), aboriginal art. As Jackie Dorothy, who works at the casino, said: “Every time you come you see something you didn’t see before.” And she promptly showed me a ground squirrel I’d missed, down in the corner, by Royce Long Bear’s name. (Long Bear’s quote: “I am glad we still have our spirituality. It teaches you respect, love, your ceremonies.”)

Read more here

GOP incumbents rattled in primary, but some hang on

Here is my latest piece for independent media site, WyoFile, analyzing the Wyoming primaries I selected as races to watch.

Here’s the first two columns for background:

Read these for some slightly nerdy political analysis and insight into Wyoming politics. Enjoy!