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The 51st State

Alex Barron poses for a portrait in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. He's wearing blue jeans and a light-colored button down shirt that's wrinkled in the front. Behind him there is snow on the ground and behind that, there are pine trees and a lake.
Heath Druzin
Alex Barron poses for a portrait in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, the heart of the so-called American Redoubt. Barron is one of the prominent voices of the Redoubt, a political migration movement aimed at building a radical right-wing survivalist utopia in the Northern Rockies. Barron's future in the movement is uncertain: he is currently facing felony charges of sexual abuse of a minor and domestic battery.

Way up in the Northern Rockies there’s a sort of mythical 51st state. It’s called the American Redoubt and it encompasses Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and parts of Oregon and Washington. Adherents to its philosophy believe in a kind of theocratic limited government utopia, one with lots of guns.

Alex Barron is the movement’s self-appointed “bard” and his rhetoric has all the violence of a Shakespearean tragedy.

“What are you willing to kill for?” he asks a crowd of far-right activists wondering about where the line should be when responding to the government with force.

Redoubters like Barron talk about their movement like evangelists and in a way they are – they are recruiting people to move there, live off the grid and run for office. And it’s working – they are reshaping their communities in Idaho and surrounding states, and as far as they’re concerned, those who disagree can leave.