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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended February 09, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 06Feb01

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 communal attitude.

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


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