This Year's Roughrider Award Ceremony Might Be A Little Awkward

North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple

North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple

In the past Governor Jack Dalrymple, and his predecessor Governor John Hoeven, have been criticized for picking too many Republicans for the state’s Roughrider Award. Several of the most recent recipients have, it’s true, been big contributors to Republican politics, though I’m not sure that should necessarily diminish the accomplishments that earned them the award.

But it’s going to be hard to make that criticism this year. Author Louise Erdich has been picked to get the award, which “recognizes present or former North Dakotans who have been influenced by this state in achieving national recognition in their fields of endeavor, thereby reflecting credit and honor upon North Dakota and its citizens.”

Erdich tells the Forum she plans on accepting the award in the spirit of her progressive politics, specifically “reproductive rights” and better environmental stewardship for western North Dakota. And if that’s not an intentional slap in the face to Governor Dalrymple, who has signed several controversial pro-life bills into law and as head of the state’s Industrial Commission is the top cop in regulating the state’s oil activity, then I’m a progressive too.

Erdrich may be reluctant to become a spokesperson, but she has been active in certain causes, most notably promoting environmental issues.

She believes that Roosevelt, as a “trust buster,” would be handling oil development in western North Dakota differently than today’s politicians.

“He’d make the fossil fuel companies reaping huge profits in North Dakota clean up their mess, cap the methane, and build pipelines … nice, new, state-of-the-art pipelines to every community for natural gas and transmission lines for wind and solar. Every North Dakotan should have free energy.”

She also sees her support of reproductive rights reflected in a comment Roosevelt made about his wife being closer to death while giving birth than he ever was in the battlefield.

“I found Roosevelt’s words poignant – nobody should force a woman to have a child, not even another woman,” Erdrich said. “I certainly wouldn’t be able to have written the books I have, or have devoted my life and energy to books the way I have, if I hadn’t had the chance to plan when I would have children.”

“Every North Dakotan should have free energy.” Someone may want to remind Erdich that most of the energy produced in North Dakota is done so on private land. Is she suggesting that we expropriate that energy and redistribute it to the masses?

I guess. Which is a statement so foolish it makes one wonder if we should maybe reconsider the award. Not because of her politics, but because of her apparent ignorance.

Regardless, Erdich’s comments are a pretty low blow. She’s being honored by the state, even as she belittles the state’s leaders.