"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster



Friday, October 18, 2013

History Belongs

“History belongs to those who write.” I can't remember who said it, probably a Communist or something, but the truth is in this statement just the same.

In fact, there is a whole lot of truth in that statement. And it makes sense, doesn’t it?  I mean if we are going to keep history intact, and correct, it must be written down. Think about it; every accurate piece of history we have comes from the written word.  The first and most obvious example would be the Holy Bible, wouldn’t it?

But this post isn’t about that beloved Book, this time.  This post is about correcting fallacies that seem to be merging in slowly becoming “truth”. I’m not going to write about any big, life changing, societal events. This post will deal with “local” truth, that in the whole scheme of things really doesn’t matter very much; but it matters to me.

I had to attend a meeting last night.  I have attended many meetings like this, not always for the same cause. As examples, some of the meetings I have attended have been school board meetings, homeowner association meetings, land management meetings, home school meetings, or church Sunday school meetings, just to name a few.

Almost always, without fail, at any of these meetings I attend, I am the only “native” present. That shouldn’t really be any big surprise, the influx of people into this area over the last 40 years, almost ensures that there will be more people at the meeting that have moved into the area, rather than any that have been here for a few generations. 

The majority of people with whom I associate are not from this area.  The neighborhood I live in consists almost 100% of people that are not originally from the state of my birth. The church I attend probably has a 10 to 1 ratio of people from out of state as opposed to those that were born and raised here. That shouldn’t come as any surprise, either, as I attend a “denomination” that had beginnings in another state. Those from that state that have moved here naturally gravitate there when they seek out a church after they arrive. 

I say, "Welcome!".  I love my church, the people that attend there, and I love my neighborhood and the many new friends that I associate with in my life. Many feel God brought them here, and I have no doubt that He did.  There is no better quality of life and place to raise a family than right here where we live. God wants the best for us and He wants the best for our families.

That being said, however, I have never (and I mean NEVER) attended one of these meetings when some type of incorrect fact about our area didn’t come up in conversation. There are many incorrect beliefs floating around in the sea of local history here that simply are not true.

I will list a few, beginning with the rumor I hear most often. It is the one that I heard last night at the meeting I attended, which then led me to write this blog post with thoughts I have reflected on for so long and so often.

“Yeah it was scary when I first moved here. All the people here, had signs posted up on their property saying, ‘Enter at your own risk.’ Or ‘Keep out, or I will shoot!’.” 

"The properties and people look like something out of Deliverance!”

Yes, I have heard reference to that movie in regard to the natives that live here, over and over and over!  I actually sat through a meeting one time, when a woman present, told everyone there that “people in North Idaho were all inbred and not all there" [meaning mentally]. Now, one hears things like that from time to time, and one mostly would believe that it is joked about in anger or some dissatisfaction. But oh, my goodness!  I could see this woman really believed it! Bless her! It really made me question the tales I have heard regarding this kind of comment in respect to other areas across our nation. I don’t know about that, but I do know it is not true here!

I didn’t say anything that time at that meeting.  Most of the time I don’t say a word, realizing it would most likely be futile. People want to believe these things, it seems.  It has been propagated enough now, that it has pretty wide acceptance.

I sat in a meeting one time, when a woman lamented the fact that no one here knows how to drive on a freeway.  “They put their brakes on, on the freeway!” she exclaimed shaking her head.  I kept quiet.  I wanted to say, “How do you know they are natives?”  With the huge arrival of people in the last few decades, odds are in the favor of it being someone that is originally from out of state.  I mean think about it if the population was 30,000 (county) in the 1960’s when the growth was just beginning, and it is almost 150,000 in 2013, who do you suppose you are most likely honking at!  (see chart below) And with that kind of ratio, who do you think is most likely (considering the odds), honking at you?”
Kootenai County has experienced exceptionally strong population growth since the 1970s. From 1997 to 2007, its population grew 34 percent from 100,108 to 134,442, while Idaho's population grew 22 percent and the U.S. population grew 11 percent. The county’s spectacular scenery, outdoor recreational opportunities, proximity to urban amenities, and high quality of life continue to draw new residents. Strong population growth shapes many aspects of the county's economy. The county seat, Coeur d'Alene, had a population of 42,300 in 2007. The population of larger cities are:  Post Falls, 25,400; Hayden, 12,600; and Rathdrum, 6,600. Kootenai County is closely tied to its Washington neighbor, Spokane County, with a population of 460,000.”1
The first meeting I attended like this with the majority of people being from out of state, would have been in the mid ‘70’s. Now that has been some time ago, and I don’t even remember what the meeting was about, but I remember laughing, when someone pointed out that I was the only “native” in the room. Everyone got quite a kick out of it, laughing and joking that they finally met a native.  Now that was probably the very first time someone told me, that I am the only “native” they have ever met, but it certainly wasn’t the last.  In fact, it is now a refrain I hear quite often.

While most of the time I don’t say anything in a meeting like this, last night I could not keep quiet. When someone was going on and on about how scary the signs and people were, I had to respond.

“I’m sorry, you guys, but those people are most likely not natives.” And I proceeded to give a little history.  “We had a great many people start coming here in the late 60’s and early 70’s during the “hippy movement”.  People were coming here for the isolation, and ability to hide from authority.  Those people you are talking about most likely were not inbred natives, but left-over hippies protecting their ‘grow’!”

I had an Avon route in the early ‘70’s which in part included the Hoodoo Valley. I know the people that were there (and it wasn’t very many!). But this is the area most people like to point to about the “scary in-breds”. Most of them probably don’t even know where the Hoodoo Valley is, but as I said rumors propagate themselves and they have heard it so they restate it. The truth is however, most of these isolated areas drew a lot of people that wanted to escape, and/or grow their marijuana without being found.

That’s not to say “natives” haven’t posted signs warning people to stay off their property. Heck, I have thought about doing that myself.  But the stories that go along with “the scary natives and the threatening signs” simply are not true.

I want to share one more quick, story about this battle between natives and those that have “immigrated” here.  One evening as my family camped, I was sitting around a campfire with friends quietly listening to the men talk.  The conversation came up about construction in the area as this was the profession of these two men. They both had some obvious disdain for one of the builders in the area, with whom they both had worked.  They carried on a while about him and it mostly wasn’t very nice. I knew the man well, but kept quiet. I also knew his reputation; some of their discussion may have been warranted.  But, I couldn’t keep silent any longer, when one of the men said something like: “He’s just another native that hates Californians.” 

“Guys!” I exclaimed. “Hold on!”  This man isn’t a native! In fact, he is a Californian himself and he came here in 1968! His daughter is one of my best friends.”

Needless to say that stopped the conversation. I share this story, because believe me when I say this, there are as many Californians bashing the Californians that come here as there are "natives" doing the bashing. I’ve heard it! But for the record, I don’t care!

The truth of the matter is, we all just want the best quality of life we can possibly have, and when someone comes and tries to change all that, or brings destruction to our community, we cry out.  And well we should!  But it isn’t a matter of “native” verses “out-of-stater”. I see it more as a matter of protector verses destroyer. Most of us want to protect! As do every one of my neighbors in the meeting I attended last night.

The influx of people here really began in the late 60’s and early 70’s as I said. It increased exponentially when the big resort was built down town in 1986 due to nationwide advertising and promotion bringing more attention to the area.  The big amusement park north, built in 1988 brought even more people, also due to their nationwide advertising which of course brought more visitors that eventually came to stay. Nothing out of line there, every state across the nation is growing, including the states people are leaving.

Neither, am I so much looking through rose-colored glasses at the place of my birth in so much that I believe it is a place of perfection, or a Garden of Eden.  (Well, almost!)  Obviously, as any city across the nation we have blights on our history. One such example would be the stories of Satanism and witches that were said to be found in the little town of Rathdrum. Now while some of these stories got way out of hand and built up to untruths, there is of course partial truth in this particular rumor. Again, these were not locals, but rather people that came here for the isolation. In my early adult years, I had always heard the stories, as had my dad. As a young woman often traveling alone at night due to working a swing shift, my dad armed me with a revolver to keep in my car for my protection. We didn’t know how many of the rumors we heard were true, but we wanted to be careful. Again, it was mostly hearsay, but I do know there was an element of truth.  Imagine how surprised I was when watching Johnny Carson late one night, in the early ‘70’s, he had as his guest a “witch”. When Johnny asked her where her headquarters was, she calmly answered, “Rathdrum, Idaho”. 

I also worked with a man in Spokane who had been actively involved in Satanism. He had since been “born again.” And though, I no longer remember his name, I remember his long hair and dark beard; his peaceful countenance and his joy at now serving the Lord after going through all he had been through.  I remember our deep conversations as we worked on an assembly line that didn’t require a whole lot of thought or attention. He assured me that the covens in this area were “beastial covens” and not covens that sacrificed humans as was the rumor of the day. And yes! I know! That’s bad enough! But the "devil worshippers" were a very small number of people that succeeded in getting a whole lot of attention.

I want to make mention of another blight on our area, which of course most people are aware; and that is the neo-Nazis that made their home and had a compound at Hayden, Idaho. Again, these were not locals, but rather people that came here for the isolation and accentuated freedom we have here due to limited laws and “red tape”.  Again, this was something highly exaggerated because it made news! And a political agenda could be created from it as well. Yes! That makes news! They were no where near the force reported, simply a small band of people that were highly confused. Mostly they were young men that were recruited, because of a lack of home life and firm foundation. They were looking for a place to belong and they found it with Richard Butler in the manner much like any cult finds their devotees.  I worked with a couple of these young men in the mid ‘80’s. They were both from Ohio, as were also some of the other members.

They were lost young men, but they were always kind to me at work. “I would like you better if you had blue eyes,” one said to me at work one day. I became a bit concerned when they found my phone number and called me one night. But they never bothered me again. After hearing their oft quoted motto “rape, pillage and plunder” I was thankful they knew we didn’t see eye to blue eye and neither of them ever called me again.

I worked down town, when the neo-Nazis took credit for a bombing at the Federal building in downtown Coeur d’Alene.  My place of employment was just a block away, and I was at work when the explosion went off.  I remember my boss going outside to look and then she called me to look, too. The damage was minimal. A corner of the building had some rock blown out of the foundation. I had a good lesson in yellow journalism that night when I watched the news and they reported the atrocity of it all and the incredible damage. I don’t know how they did it, but the photography and video they used succeeded in making it look like it had been a massive explosion. I was shocked, because it just didn’t look like that in real life. And yes! I know! That’s still bad enough. But this small group of rebels certainly didn’t warrant the nation wide attention they received and for as many years as they received it.

I have one more important event that took place here in Idaho that I feel is worth mentioning. It certainly wasn’t any kind of “blight” on our history as the aforementioned, but rather it was a sad time that forever changed things. And that is the Sunshine Mine Disaster in 1972.  Ninety-one men lost their lives that day in a community of only a few thousand. That’s radical. They were daddies and brothers, husbands and sons. They were the men that were the foundation of that community. Of course this loss reverberated across that county and into the next. We all felt it.  We all lost someone, or were close to someone that did. It was our own personal 9/11 and it affected the communities much the same way 9/11 affected our nation years later. People grieved. Families were broken; understandably sadness took over. Depression, both mental and economic was a way of life for awhile. Obviously, it didn’t take any exceptional astuteness to feel the cloud that covered the valley. Some that were new to the area might not have understood it; but I can guarantee they felt it! However the people in that little community are strong and they rebuilt!  They overcame and that community honors, annually, those that they lost. When looked at in context of what happened, those people are an incredible source of pride for those of us that lived with them through that disaster. Those that were here during that time have not even an iota of disdain for a “less than perfect life” as erroneously explained by some. I will always correct any false assumptions in regard to this tragedy.

All cities and locales have things like what I have written about in their background; it isn’t anything unique here. We are not some low level place which breeds atrocities – quite the opposite!  We have a far better quality of life and fewer issues than most places. That is why so many come here. May they all grow to love it and respect it like the majority of us do!

There’s my soapbox…it became quite a bit more intense than I thought it would when I began writing this morning. I have lots of passion for this subject. It’s my home, it’s my roots; I want things accurate. I wonder how many will even make it through the length of this post. J Oh, well!

This isn’t an attack on anyone moving here from someplace else. It really isn’t! Like I said most of the people with whom I now associate and have contact (other than my family) are not from here. Of the people that read this blog, I would say only 3 are natives. So no, I certainly don’t have any criticism for those that came from someplace else. I am glad each and everyone is here.  I married a Californian.  I like to joke my son is a “half-breed”.  I hope people can see the humor in that. I simply want to make an attempt, as small as it might be - I really don’t have a great number of people that read this blog – at setting and keeping the record straight. After all, I am a firm believer in the fact that “History belongs to those that write.”
 
1 http://lmi.idaho.gov/Default.aspx?TabID=2201&AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1


Historical populations
Census
Pop.
 
518
 
4,108
 
693.1%
10,216
 
148.7%
22,747
 
122.7%
17,878
 
−21.4%
19,469
 
8.9%
22,283
 
14.5%
24,947
 
12.0%
29,556
 
18.5%
35,332
 
19.5%
59,770
 
69.2%
69,795
 
16.8%
108,685
 
55.7%
138,494
 
27.4%
Est. 2012
142,357
 
2.8%
U.S. Decennial Census[6]
 
 
 
 
County Census...1960 - 29,556      2012 - 142,357   Wow!!  Who do you think is honking at you?? ;-)
 

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