Oregon’s divide

This is a preview of an ongoing project

Oregonians are starting to pay more attention to the fact that many eastern counties in Oregon want to form what has come to be known as Greater Idaho. 

I was born and raised in Oregon and have always loved this state, however, ever since I was little, I have heard talks about the State of Jefferson — a similar concept of changing borders. 

In the little Pacific North West’s pocket of the world, the State of Jefferson is well known. It was named after the third President of the United States for his decision to forge west, forming the Oregon Trail, in 1803. 

A glaring difference between these two plans to form new borders in Oregon is that the State of Jefferson would create a 51st state whereas Greater Idaho would simply stretch Idaho’s borders around rural Oregon, and also some of Northern California. 

The new proposed borders of Oregon, California and Idaho.

Though the map shows Greater Idaho will claim over three quarters of Oregon’s landmass, Oregon would retain 75% of its population. This would leave over three million people in what would be the new — much smaller — state of Oregon.

So far, seven counties in Oregon have proposed legislation to move to the next step of the Greater Idaho plan.

This proposal of a plan raises many questions and I hope to answer them all over the course of this summer. I want to dig into the politics and the various possibilities of this proposal.

But first, I can’t help but to wonder: Why

Why is it that seven counties in Oregon have felt the need to separate from their state? So, I have teamed up with a videographer, a friend who is far more handy with a camera than myself, to document these parts of our home state we have never experienced. 

Our motive during our visits  is not political, but rather anthropological. 

We are attempting to understand the communities and what values take precedent in their culture. We will leave the political questions for the politicians that are equipped for such a line of questioning.  

The first county Kyle, my videographer, and I explored was Sherman County —  the home of 1,700 Oregonians just east of The Dalles. 

We chose to start here to ask yet another question: What does it mean to live in a new dessert? 

Both Sherman and Wheeler County have zero local newspapers. This makes researching the modern issues of these counties extremely difficult. 

Periodically over this summer I will be releasing reports about our findings. By September, Kyle and I hope to have completed our first attempt at a documentary of these rural parts of our home state.

David Galbreath


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