As part of our “Behind the Headlines” series and sponsored by High Country News, join us for a discussion on the “Future of Land in the West” with Betsy Gaines Quammen, Justin Farrell, Ted Conover, Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk, and Megan Kate Nelson. Chaired by Nick Bowlin.
Betsy Gaines Quammen is a historian and conservationist. She is the author of American Zion: Cliven Bundy, God, and Public Lands in the West. Her second book, True West: Myth and Mending on the Far Side of America, is due out in Oct, 2023. After college in Colorado Springs, reporting in Telluride, caretaking for a bed and breakfast in Mosier, Oregon, and serving breakfasts at a cafe in Kanab, Utah, Betsy settled in Bozeman, Montana, where she now lives with her husband, writer David Quammen, three huge dogs, an overweight cat, and a pretty big python named Boots. She watches anti-government agitation in the American West and looks at issues around community resilience.
Justin Farrell is a professor and author at Yale University. His research focuses on cultural sociology and environmental politics. Mostly epistemologies and power. He blends ethnographic fieldwork with large-scale computational techniques from network science and machine learning. His books BILLIONAIRE WILDERNESS, THE BATTLE FOR YELLOWSTONE, and articles have won national scholarly awards, and he regularly presents to policymakers, including the U.S. Senate, the United Nations, the Vatican, and in major media outlets such as the New York Times, The Economist, New York Review of Books, LA Times, NPR, Washington Post, HBO, and the Financial Times. Justin is a proud first-generation college grad and Wyoming native.
Ted Conover is the author most recently of Cheap Land Colorado: Off-Gridders at America’s Edge, named one of The New Yorker’s best books of 2022. Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing, an account of his ten months spent working as a corrections officer at New York’s Sing Sing prison, won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Conover’s other books include Rolling Nowhere: Riding the Rails with America’s Hoboes, Coyotes: A Journey Across Borders with America’s Mexican Migrants, Whiteout: Lost in Aspen, The Routes of Man, and Immersion: A Writer’s Guide to Going Deep. He has written for publications including The New Yorker, New York Times Magazine, and Harper’s. A graduate of the Denver Public Schools, he is now professor at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.
Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk, was born and raised in southwestern Colorado, resides on the Ute Mountain Ute reservation. She is a member of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe of Towaoc. She attended school and graduated from Montezuma Cortez High School. She has spent 10 years in the information technology field, working for Chief Dull Knife College and the Southern Ute Indian and Ute Mountain Ute Indian Tribes. In October of 2013, she was elected to serve as a member of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribal council. At an early age, Lopez-Whiteskunk began to advocate for land, air, water and animals, and strongly believes that the inner core of healing comes from the knowledge of our land and elders. She is a former co-chair for the Bears Ears Intertribal Coalition Co-Chair and education director for the Ute Indian Museum in Montrose. Currently she is seeking a Master’s of Environmental Management with Western Colorado University. She serves on the Telluride Institute Board, Advisory board for Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Torrey House Press Board, and Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. Lopez-Whiteskunk has traveled extensively throughout the country sharing the Ute culture through song, dance, presentations, and is honored to continue to protect, preserve and serve through education, creating a better understanding of our resources, culture and beliefs— a great foundation for a better tomorrow.
Megan Kate Nelson is a historian and writer, with a BA from Harvard and a PhD in American Studies from the University of Iowa. She is the author of four books, including Saving Yellowstone: Exploration and Preservation in Reconstruction America (Scribner 2022; winner of the 2023 Spur Award for Historical Non-Fiction) and The Three-Cornered War: The Union, the Confederacy, and Native Peoples in the Fight for the West (Scribner 2020; finalist for the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in History). She writes about the Civil War, the U.S. West, and American culture for The New York Times, Washington Post, The Atlantic, Smithsonian Magazine, Slate, and TIME. Before leaving academia to write full-time in 2014, she taught U.S. history and American Studies at Texas Tech University, Cal State Fullerton, Harvard, and Brown. She grew up in Littleton, Colorado, and now lives in Boston with her husband and two cats.