Northwest Territorial Imperative
Flag of Northwest Territorial Imperative
The proposed flag of the Northwest American Republic.[1]
A map that shows the suggested boundaries of The Northwest Territorial Imperative in red.
A map that shows the suggested boundaries of The Northwest Territorial Imperative in red.

The Northwest Territorial Imperative (often shortened to the Northwest Imperative) was a white separatist idea put forward in the 1970s–80s by white nationalist, white supremacist, white separatist and neo-Nazi groups within the United States.[2] According to it, members of these groups were encouraged to relocate to a region of the Northwestern United StatesWashington, Oregon, Idaho, and Western Montana—with the intention to eventually turn the region into an Aryan ethnostate.[3] Some definitions of the project include the entire states of Montana and Wyoming, plus Northern California.[4][3]

From this idea, Harold Covington founded the organization the Northwest Front in the 1990's, which is now inactive.[5] Harold Covington died at the age of 68 on July 14, 2018, and his death marked the end of the Northwest Front organization and website.[6]

Several reasons have been given as to why activists have chosen to turn this area into a future white homeland: it is farther removed from Black, Jewish and other minority locations than other areas of the United States are; it is geographically remote, making it harder for the federal government to uproot activists; its "wide open spaces" appeal to those who believe in the right to hunt and fish without any government regulations; and it would also give them access to seaports and Canada.[7]

The formation of such a "White homeland" also involves the expulsion, euphemized as the "repatriation", of all non-Whites from the territory.[8] The project is variously called "Northwest Imperative", "White American Bastion",[9] "White Aryan Republic",[7] "White Aryan Bastion",[10][11] "White Christian Republic", or the "10% solution" by its promoters.[12] White supremacist leaders Robert E. Miles, Robert Jay Mathews and Richard Butler were originally the main promoters of the idea.[4][8][9]

The territory which is proposed by the Northwest Territorial Imperative overlaps with the territory of the Cascadia independence movement,[13] and the two movements share similar flags,[14] but they have no ties to each other.[13]


The Oregon black exclusion laws of 1844, an attempt to expel all African Americans from the state, are cited as an early example of such a racist project in the region.[3] White supremacist journalist Derek Stenzel, the Portland-based editor of Northwestern Initiative, emphasized that the 1859 constitution of Oregon explicitly stated that "no free negro, mulatto or Chinaman" could reside, vote, hold contract, or make business in the state. In his view, the Northwest Imperative project would be in line with the "high racist ideals" of the original settlers.[4]

The primary proponents of a separatist white homeland in America were Richard Butler (1918–2004), the leader of the Idaho-based Aryan Nations,[8] and Robert E. Miles (1925–1992), a white supremacist theologian from Michigan. In the early 1980s, the latter introduced the idea of a territorial separation in the Northwest in his seminar Birth of a Nation, where he urged whites to leave the American multicultural areas and "go in peace" to this region where they would remain a majority.[4] In July 1986, the Aryan Nations Congress was organized around the theme of the "Northwest Territorial Imperative", and was attended by over 200 Ku Klux Klan and Neo-Nazi leaders, as well as 4,000–5,000 racist activists.[15] During the Congress, Miles declared that the project could be achieved "by White nationalists moving to the area, buying land together or adjacent to each other and having families consisting of five or ten children [...] We will win the Northwest by out-breeding our opponents and keeping our children away from the insane and destructive values of the Establishment."[16][4] His solution of setting aside the northwestern states (10% of the contiguous US territory) for a white nation was endorsed by the Knights of the KKK from Tuscumbia and key activists moved to the area. Different from fighting within a homeland like in the Deep South though, the imperative required a large migration of white supremacists from throughout the country,[3] and it was generally rejected by Southern extremists.[17] The project was also advertised by the Aryan Nations Church under the name "White Aryan Bastion".[11]

A secondary supporter was Robert Jay Mathews (1953–1984), who lived in Metaline Falls, Washington, and advocated further colonization of the area. Fearing the "extinction of the white race", he endorsed the creation of a "White American Bastion" in the Pacific Northwest. In 1983, he delivered a speech before the National Alliance, a white supremacist organization which was led by William Luther Pierce, calling the "yeoman farmers and independent truckers" to rally behind his project. Mathews received the only standing ovation at the conference.[9]


The idea has been endorsed by various organizations including White Aryan Resistance, Wotansvolk, the White Order of Thule, Aryan Nations and Northwestern Imperative.[4]

The defunct Oregon-based white power skinhead organization Volksfront advocated for the Imperative, and Harold Covington founded the Northwest Front to promote white migration to the region.[18]

The Northwest Territorial Imperative was the motivation for Randy Weaver and his family to move to Idaho in the early 1980s; they were later involved in the Ruby Ridge incident.[3]

David Lane, proponent of the Fourteen Words, endorsed a form of the Northwest Territorial Imperative advocating domestic terrorism to carve out "white living space" in the Mountain States.[19]

See also


  1. ^ "Northwest American Republic". Anti-Defamation League. Archived from the original on 2020-06-13. Retrieved 2020-06-18.
  2. ^ Antifa, Rose City. "The Northwest Front". Retrieved 2023-12-18.
  3. ^ a b c d e Medina et al. 2018, p. 1011.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Gardell 2003, pp. 112–113.
  5. ^ Michel, Casey (2015-07-07). "Want to Meet America's Worst Racists? Come to the Northwest". POLITICO Magazine. Retrieved 2023-12-18.
  6. ^ "Harold Covington, founder of white separatist group, dies at 64". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 2023-12-18.
  7. ^ a b Marks 1996, p. 164.
  8. ^ a b c Buck 2009, pp. 114–115.
  9. ^ a b c Balleck 2014, pp. 122–123.
  10. ^ McFarland & Gottfried 2002, pp. 128–129.
  11. ^ a b Aho 2015, p. 138.
  12. ^ Marks 1996, p. 205.
  13. ^ a b Taylor, Blair (2019). "Alt-Right Ecology: Ecofascism and far-right environmentalism in the United States". The Far Right and the Environment. Routledge. doi:10.4324/9781351104043-16. ISBN 978-1-351-10404-3. S2CID 213586588; "... a strategy called the Northwest Territorial Imperative (Durham 2007). This same geographic area is also known by environmentalists as the Cascadia bioregion, which spans from Northern California to Southern British Columbia."((cite book)): CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  14. ^ Shobe, Hunter; Gibson, Geoff (2017-11-10). "Cascadia rising: soccer, region, and identity". Soccer & Society. 18 (7): 953–971. doi:10.1080/14660970.2015.1067790. ISSN 1466-0970. S2CID 146719801.
  15. ^ Background Report on Racist and Far Right Organizing in the Pacific Northwest. Atlanta: Center for Democratic Renewal. 1988. Archived from the original on 2023-04-12. Retrieved 2020-06-06.
  16. ^ Dobratz & Shanks-Meile 1997, p. 100.
  17. ^ Marks 1996, p. 78.
  18. ^ Michael 2010, pp. 159–160.
  19. ^ Nelkin, Dorothy; Michaels, Mark (1998). "Biological categories and border controls: the revival of eugenics in anti‐immigration rhetoric". International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy. 18 (5/6): 35–63. doi:10.1108/01443339810788425. ISSN 0144-333X.


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