By Mark Wright
Stew Udall Finds Cowboys a Tough Audience
ELKO, NEVADA -- Longtime Mormon politician Stewart Udall spoke Saturday to a
packed house at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, urging the assembly to
work through the battle lines that have been drawn in the West over land
use. "I hate that the battle lines across the West have been drawn. I think
we need more discussion and less hollering."
Udall, who was US Secretary of the Interior from 1961 to 1969 under
President's Kennedy and Johnson, went on to suggest that Mormon pioneers,
such as his own ancestors, were more typical of those that settled the west,
than the lone cowboy so often portrayed in Hollywood films. "The heroes and
heroines, in my book, were the people who dared to get in a wagon with their
wife and their children and their belongings and head out across miles and
miles of unknown country."
Today, Udall argued, we could use more of that same attitude. "The welfare
of the group was more important than the individual, just the opposite of
our society today -- the emphasis on independence, do your own thing, make
all the money that you can and to hell with the rest." He said modern
disputes over land use and the environment could use that same kind of
But some in the audience were suspicious of Udall's message because of his
credentials and support for recent Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt. Babbitt
and the Clinton Administration angered many Westerners by tightening
restrictions on federal lands, limiting, for example, the use of that land
by ranchers and cattlemen for grazing.
Descendants of Mormon pioneer and polygamist David King Udall, Stew and his
brother Morris K. "Mo" Udall were fixtures in Arizona politics for more than
30 years. Stew was elected to the US Congress in 1954, but left the seat to
his brother, Mo, in 1961 to head the Interior Department.
While both brothers were raised as LDS Church members, Mo left the Church in
1969 because of the Church's position on blacks and the priesthood. Mo, who
was known for his self-depricating humor, ran for US President in 1976,
becoming the second (of three) Mormon politicians to launch a credible
campaign for the nomination of a major political party. Mo, who died in
1998, titled his memoirs "Too Funny To Be President."
Each of the brothers now has a son in the US House of Representatives. Tom
Udall, Stew's son, represents New Mexico, and reports that he is Mormon,
while Mark Udall, Mo's son, represents Colorado.
Udall preaches cowboy heritage of 'less hollering'
Las Vegas NV Review-Journal (AP) 5Feb01 T2
By Hannah Wolfson: Associated Press
81-year-old focuses on poetry, pioneer past