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Mon Jul 5, 2021, 11:41 PM

How a trail in rural Oregon became a target of far-right extremism

Up the slow rise of a country road, in the shadow of an oak tree, one of the oldest gravestones in the Yamhill Carlton Pioneer Memorial Cemetery lies flat against the wet green earth. Until his death nearly 140 years ago, a white settler farmed here, preached and claimed that he carried bullets in his back from an Indigenous boy’s gun. Presumably, those bullets are buried, too: a reminder of the way stories can eventually become Western myth.

Downhill from the graves, plots of freshly turned soil mark the sites of future homes. Beyond them lies an abandoned railroad line, now just a stretch of trees and bushes. And beyond it a patchwork of hazelnut trees and farmhouses and green velvet vineyards stretches out toward the distant Coast Range. It is a sedimentary view of history. If we tell ourselves stories to live, the dead of Yamhill County have a full view of the truth of this place: what it was, what it is and what it will be.

One cold and windy day in late March, an organic fruit and vegetable farmer named Casey Kulla parked his car near some old headstones. Kulla’s jeans were mud-splattered, but his shirt was fresh. He was in his early 40s, a thin man with a big smile and a neatly shaved head.

In 2018, Kulla was elected one of Yamhill County’s three commissioners, besting the conservative incumbent. Over the last 40 years, this county in western Oregon’s Willamette Valley has become one of the world’s premier wine-growing regions, bringing an influx of money and visitors. Kulla, who is unusually liberal for a conservative county, ran on a platform of smart planning for inevitable growth and protecting vulnerable people in the community. At the time of his election, he was also a cannabis farmer.

Read more: https://www.hcn.org/issues/53.7/north-extremism-how-a-trail-in-rural-oregon-became-a-target-of-far-right-extremism
(High Country News)

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