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Google helps put Native voters on the map


Rockies Today

October 4 · Issue #12 · View online
The big stories up and down the Rocky Mountains, curated by Mountain West News

Google helps put Native voters on the map
Voting rights advocates are searching for ways to assign addresses to rural, Native American communities ahead of the 2020 general election, knowing that it may be only a matter of time before county and state governments crack down on non-traditional addresses on reservations. For Navajo residents of southeastern Utah, a new addressing system developed with the assistance of Google might help.
For some Native Americans, no home address might mean no voting For some Native Americans, no home address might mean no voting
When organizers for the Salt Lake City-based nonprofit Rural Utah Project set out to register 1,600 new voters from the Navajo Nation in the runup to the 2018 midterm elections, staff soon realized what they were up against: One-fifth of Navajo voters in the county were filed in the wrong precinct, which meant they sometimes voted in the wrong school board races. At least 70% of Navajo voters in the county, the project found, were filed under P.O. boxes, while the rest were filed using vague descriptions of their home locations.
For decades, Navajo residents in San Juan County, Utah, have faced barriers to the ballot. The issue came to a head last year when a federal judge ruled the county’s school district and county commission seats were unconstitutionally drawn to limit Native American representation. While Native Americans gained a 2-1 advantage on the county commission for the first time after November’s election, project staff knew their efforts to increase indigenous voting power were just beginning.
“We had to do something,” said Drew Cooper, the project’s deputy director. “I never really realized how socially valuable an address is. It’s something we totally take for granted. These people have literally never been afforded a place in San Juan County.”
After nonprofit officials approached Google, the company agreed to provide technical assistance and advice to the Rural Utah Project’s addressing program, aiming for it to be a trailblazer for the rest of the Navajo Nation and other Native American territories.
Rural Utah Project Addressing Program
Some say special election could undo gains in Native representation in San Juan County
Aspen shouts climate change from the mountaintops
Climate change is ruining skiing. Aspen Skiing Co. is fighting back Climate change is ruining skiing. Aspen Skiing Co. is fighting back
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, April snowpack measured at monitoring sites across Colorado has dropped by 20 to 60 percent since the 1950s. The state is, on average, two degrees balmier than it was 30 years ago, according to a 2014 report. In March 2017, the Audi FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup finals happened at Aspen Snowmass. It was 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Intrepid organizers poured heavy salt on the runs to keep them runnable. 
Aspen is far from the only ski town feeling the climate crisis as a threat to its bottom line — let alone an existential threat for a business reliant on snow — but Aspen Skiing Company was one of the first resort operators to start shouting about climate change from the proverbial mountaintops. Officials at the resort want their customers to notice the shorter winters and rising temperatures, and to talk about all those changes. They want you to say the words “climate change,” and, most importantly, to do something about it.
The sustainability initiatives of Skico, as the company is locally known, are headed by a guy named Auden Schendler. Since 1999, Schendler has worked to put some power back in the hands of patrons who might otherwise feel overwhelmed by the enormity of a warming world. Skico, under Schendler’s leadership, has embarked on numerous projects intended to make a difference, to let people make their own differences, and to catalyze action more significant than either the resort or its downhillers can muster alone. 
More from Bitteroot magazine’s water issue published today:
As Denver grows, a rural Colorado valley fields another bid for its water
More water or more wild: The decades-Long struggle over the Gila River’s fate
PacifiCorp's power shift
The major Western utility said Thursday it plans massive investments in renewable energy while it shuts down 20 of its 24 coal-fired units by 2038. A roundup of stories on PacifiCorp’s big power shift:
Big utility ditches coal for wind because it's cheaper Big utility ditches coal for wind because it's cheaper
PacifiCorp embraces massive renewables build-out, early coal retirements
PacifiCorp plans early exit from Colstrip
Wyoming's largest utility to retire majority of coal-fired power plant units by 2030
More Colorado coal-fired power plants could be closing, but the timing depends on some complex deals
New PacifiCorp plan slows coal plant closures, adds lots of wind and solar
Navajo company keeps 1,200 workers after buying Cloud Peak coal mines
High-risk Navajo acquisition of Montana-Wyoming mines isn’t a done deal
A tiny Indigenous band’s epic pipeline fight
Why Trudeau’s Trans Mountain dreams may trickle out in Coldwater Why Trudeau’s Trans Mountain dreams may trickle out in Coldwater
In more pipeline news…
Flurry of Keystone XL pre-construction activity resumes
Dakota Access pipeline activists face 110 years in prison, two years after confessing sabotage
What else we're reading today
BLM goes on hiring spree to fill new Grand Junction headquarters
Northwest fight creates 'big fear' in U.S. oil industry
Researchers say we need to rethink wildfire management, and burn more on purpose
Teton goats get got for the good of sheep
No additional hot spots detected in soil at edge of Rocky Flats where elevated plutonium reading was found
'I've never told anyone': Stories of life in Indian boarding schools
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O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana, 59812