Northwest Territorial Imperative

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A map that shows the boundaries of The Northwest Territorial Imperative.

The Northwest Territorial Imperative (often shortened to Northwest Imperative)[1] is a white separatist, neo-Nazi idea that has been popularized since the 1970s–80s by white nationalist, white supremacist and white separatist groups within the United States. According to it, members of these groups are encouraged to relocate to a region of the Northwestern United StatesWashington, Oregon, Idaho, and Western Montana—with the intent to eventually declare the region an Aryan white ethnostate.[2] Depending on who defines the project, it can also include the entire states of Montana and Wyoming, plus Northern California.[2][3] White supremacist leaders Robert E. Miles, Robert Jay Mathews and Richard Butler were originally the main promoters of the idea.[1][3][4]

Several reasons have been given as to why this area has been chosen to be 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 hard 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 also allows them to have access to seaports and Canada.[5] The formation of such a "White homeland" also involves the expulsion, euphemized as a "repatriation", of all non-Whites from the territory.[1] The project is variously called "Northwest Imperative", "White American Bastion",[4] "White Aryan Republic",[5] "White Aryan Bastion",[6][7] "White Christian Republic", or the "10% solution" by its promoters.[8]


The Oregon black exclusion laws of 1844, an attempt to expel all African Americans from the state, are cited as an early example of this racist project in the region.[2] 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. Therefore, The project would in his view be in line with the "high racist ideals" of the original settlers.[3]

The primary proponents of a separatist white homeland in America were Richard Butler (1918–2004), the leader of the Idaho-based Aryan Nations,[1] and Robert E. Miles (1925–1992), a white supremacist theologist from Michigan. In the early 1980s, the latter introduced the idea of a territorial separation in the Northwest in his seminary 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.[3] In July 1986, the Aryan Nations Congress was organized around the theme of the "Northwest Territorial Imperative", and was attended by over 200 Klan and Neo-Nazi leaders, as well as 4,000–5,000 racist activists.[9] 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."[10][3] 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,[2] and it was generally rejected by Southern extremists.[11] The project was also advertised by the Aryan Nations Church under the name "White Aryan Bastion".[7]

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 led by William Luther Pierce, calling the "yeoman farmers and independent truckers" to rally his project. Mathews received the only standing ovation at the conference.[4]


The idea has been endorsed by various organizations the likes of White Aryan Resistance, Wotansvolk, the White Order of Thule, Aryan Nations and Northwestern Imperative.[3]

The defunct Oregon-based white power skinhead organization Volksfront advocated for the Imperative, and Harold Covington (1953–2018) founded the Northwest Front to promote white migration to the region.[12][13] The project was the motivation for Randy Weaver and his family to move to Idaho in the early 1980s, which led to the Ruby Ridge incident.[2]

David Lane, author of the Fourteen Words, mentioned the "territorial imperative" in his 88 Precepts.[14]

See also[edit]

  • Republic of New Afrika – a black nationalist separatist movement in the American South
  • The Order – a paramilitary group that engaged in domestic terrorism to establish a white territorial imperative in the Pacific Northwest
  • Volkstaat – proposal for self-determination for Afrikaner/Boer minority in South Africa
  • White ethnostate – a term used by the alt-right and white nationalist groups to refer to a white territorial imperative


  1. ^ a b c d Buck, Christopher (2009). Religious Myths and Visions of America: How Minority Faiths Redefined America's World Role. ABC-CLIO. pp. 114–15. ISBN 9780313359590.
  2. ^ a b c d e Medina, Richard M.; Nicolosi, Emily; Brewer, Simon; Linke, Andrew M. (2018-07-04). "Geographies of Organized Hate in America: A Regional Analysis". Annals of the American Association of Geographers. 108 (4): 1011. doi:10.1080/24694452.2017.1411247. ISSN 2469-4452.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Gardell, Mattias (2003-06-27). Gods of the Blood: The Pagan Revival and White Separatism. Duke University Press. pp. 112–13. ISBN 9780822330592.
  4. ^ a b c Barry J. Balleck (2014). Allegiance to Liberty: The Changing Face of Patriots, Militias, and Political Violence in America. Praeger. pp. 122–123. ISBN 978-1440830952. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  5. ^ a b Marks, Kathy (1996). Faces of Right Wing Extremism. Branden Books. p. 164. ISBN 9780828320160.
  6. ^ McFarland, Michael; Gottfried, Glenn (2002). "The Chosen Ones: A Mythic Analysis of the Theological and Political Self-Justification of Christian Identity". Journal for the Study of Religion. 15 (1): 128–29. ISSN 1011-7601. JSTOR 24764349.
  7. ^ a b Aho, James (2015-12-22). Far-Right Fantasy: A Sociology of American Religion and Politics. Routledge. p. 138. ISBN 9781317334071.
  8. ^ Marks, Kathy (1996). Faces of Right Wing Extremism. Branden Books. p. 205. ISBN 9780828320160.
  9. ^ Background Report on Racist and Far Right Organizing in the Pacific Northwest. Atlanta: Center for Democratic Renewal. 1988.
  10. ^ Dobratz, Betty A.; Shanks-Meile, Stephanie L. (1997). "White power, white pride!": the white separatist movement in the United States. Twayne Publishers. p. 100.
  11. ^ Marks, Kathy (1996). Faces of Right Wing Extremism. Branden Books. p. 78. ISBN 9780828320160.
  12. ^ Michael, George (2012). Lone Wolf Terror and the Rise of Leaderless Resistance. Vanderbilt University Press. pp. 51–53. ISBN 9780826518552.
  13. ^ Michael, George (2010-01-21). "Blueprints and Fantasies: A Review and Analysis of Extremist Fiction". Studies in Conflict & Terrorism. 33 (2): 159–60. doi:10.1080/10576100903488451. ISSN 1057-610X.
  14. ^ Nelkin, Dorothy; Michaels, Mark (1998-06-01). "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.