December 4, 1995 in Nation/World

The Ragged Edge Ideologies In Conflict Many In The Inland Northwest Believe They Have Met The Enemy, And It Is U.S.


Part 2

From the vantage of many Inland Northwest residents, the government fired first. The people are just now shooting back.

Through their eyes, government rules and regulations threaten the lifestyle the region conceived, the one enjoyed for generations.

For many, there is solid proof that Uncle Sam is not here to help.

Exhibit A: the FBI sharpshooter killing Vicki Weaver while she clutched her baby at their North Idaho cabin.

Exhibit B: the inferno after U.S. tanks stormed the Branch Davidians at Waco, Texas.

But for even more people, the anti-government sentiment is rooted in rules and regulations they believe restrict freedoms and harm jobs.

“They have committed warlike acts,” Idaho County’s Chad Erickson says of bureaucrats. “When they shut down the woods, that is the act of an enemy.”

Escalating this sense of battle is the growing government presence in the region.

In Kootenai County, the government work force more than doubled in the past 20 years. In Spokane County, the number of state workers shot from 2,600 in 1979 to 7,000 in 1994.

Instead of public servants, these workers are often viewed as foot soldiers in a subtle invasion.

So the people fight back.

They rail against everything from United Nations policies to the federal debt to disintegrating public schools.

But the biggest wagons circle to protest taxes and to defend two symbols of the West: guns and land.

See stories, pages A6-A9

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Color Photos

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