The American Redoubt Series: Why the Redoubt?

Some insights into the motivation for strategic relocation

By Bill Harp
Reader Contributor

Editor’s Note: This is the final piece in the American Redoubt series — an essay by guest contributor Bill Harp. We thank all those who contributed and talked with us during this series. Read the whole series on the Reader website.

“Vote with your feet” is the rally cry of many voices in the Redoubt.

I mentioned in my previous article that the Redoubt is a geographically-centered, socio-political demographic movement often coupled with strong religious roots. It is also a subset of the larger and diverse global preparedness community.

The geographic territory of the so-called American Redoubt, which includes Idaho, Montana, eastern Washington, eastern Oregon and Wyoming. Photo illustration by Ben Olson.

In that previous article, I mentioned the different variables that families take into account when they consider strategic relocation to the Redoubt and why our neck of the woods is considered an optimum destination. I also reference the Redoubt section and Precepts pages on that explain, according to the site’s editors, how folks embracing the concept of the Redoubt share certain beliefs, philosophies, principles and intentions. And, of course, there is now at the Sandpoint Reader a corpus of well-researched articles on the Redoubt movement.

Why the Redoubt?

What is missing is a discussion on why a family would go to the trouble to move to the Redoubt. An even more profound question is why a pioneering subset of American society decided to change their lifestyle and geography, often leaving their friends, family, home and community, and “voted with their feet” to our region. Relocating is one of the most significant life-changing events that families undertake. No simple statement can explain or account for this socio-demographic shift.

It is also important to recognize that not everyone who identifies with the Redoubt movement has relocated here. Redoubt identity can be classified into four main groups.

1. Those who have lived in the Redoubt area — perhaps grew up here — and have adopted Redoubt philosophy.

2. Those who have moved here full-time in the last decade or two.

3. Those who are planning to move here or who have some toehold in the Redoubt but have not made the full-time transition to living in our area.

4. Those who strongly identify with the Redoubt philosophy but live somewhere else and don’t really plan to move here.

Why would a family uproot and move to the Redoubt? If we temporarily discount the unilateral and primary concern for surviving a calamitous event, there is a constellation of other beliefs and conditions that guide a family’s decision to relocate. As you can imagine, there are no simple answers, so let’s explore some potential reasons for this active demographic immigration from outside the region.

Strategic relocation to the Redoubt: religious and faith-based community

A fundamentalist Christian orientation of like-minded practitioners is often a critically important relocation factor for many families.  The community church also forms an important institution for not only worship but social interaction and education, so any potential location should have a church with a fellowship of like-minded folks.

Minimal political and regulatory intervention

Regulations and taxes have become increasingly cumbersome in many states. Reasons can be, in part, due to larger population densities, environmental concerns, government finances and safety precautions.

California building code, for example, is notoriously controlling.  In comparison, Bonner County does not enforce a building code. You need only a relatively inexpensive building location permit to build a home. This permit has few regulatory requirements, such as a safe driveway, a consistent address that supports 9-1-1 emergency response, building setbacks and protection of certain critical habitats such as wetlands. This is in striking contrast to most U.S. counties that have a litany of complex requirements, bureaucratic forms and inspections you need to satisfy to build a home.

Taxes are also relatively low. Although Idaho does have a state income tax, property taxes are moderate to low, and insurance, such as auto insurance, is about the lowest in the U.S. If you look at Idaho code on any issue and then compare to the code for the equivalent subject in other states, you will find that Idaho code is often one-tenth the volume of code for most other states. This suggests considerably less regulation.

Libertarianism and constitutionalism

Many folks who embrace the Redoubt have strong libertarian and constitutionalist philosophies. This is the belief in having the unfettered ability to practice the freedoms written into the Bill of Rights and with a minimum of intervention from all forms of government.

These freedoms are considered inalienable human rights that pre-existed before political systems and therefore cannot be revoked or modified by governments. Many folks of the Redoubt believe that the government has grossly overstepped its constitutional authority and infringed upon these inalienable rights. They feel that the federal government, in particular, has damaged its contract to hold “We the People” as the highest authority in the land. Therefore, relocation strategy would include those areas where libertarianism is valued and where there is respect and belief in strict interpretation of constitutional authority.

Respect for the Second Amendment

The Redoubt community largely believes the Second Amendment, which guarantees the rights of citizens to own and bear firearms, is increasingly under fire. For them, state support of non-restrictive Second Amendment rights is critical because a “calamitous event” could bring chaos and social unrest. Under those conditions, self-defense would be an important skill and necessary right.

Other states such as Colorado, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Minnesota and Virginia ban or regulate certain semi-automatic rifles and/or standard-capacity magazines, reducing one’s options for self-defense. This is in stark contrast to Idaho, which recently legislated that all residents in good standing have the legal right to the concealed carry of a firearm without a state permit. Idaho regulations do not, in general, limit the use of firearms in a more restrictive way than provided for by federal regulations.

Education and homeschooling

Many Redoubt families are very concerned with the nature and quality of their children’s education.   Some wish to homeschool and do not want onerous homeschooling requirements.

Idaho has recognized the right of parents to homeschool. Some families want to send their kids to schools that recognize religious principles and have faith-based curriculum. Others want to send their kids to a public school where parents have a significant say in school priorities and who support school boards that favor certain values. For example, a school board that favors local control — rather than state or federal — over school activities. North Idaho in general favors all these options.

Crime and social unrest

Urban areas tend toward higher crime rates. Any analyst might say that crime rates indicate not only the propensity of crimes but also a wide variety of other social ills. These could be inadequate finances for law enforcement and public safety, poverty, inadequate housing, poor educational systems, lack of jobs and dysfunctional local government.

A low crime rate, especially crimes against person and property, is a key indicator of an area’s health. The Redoubt, specifically in rural environments, has low incidences of most crimes. With low crime rates comes a low incidence of a broad spectrum of co-related social unrest. Therefore, the Redoubt’s low population densities and relatively few major metropolitan areas add to its desirability.

However, while Sandpoint’s violent crime statistics are average for the state, the property crime rate has increased 25 percent since 2011, putting it at the top of the list for property crimes statewide. Nearby Coeur d’Alene also has the distinction of the highest violent crime rate in the state, with 344 violent crimes reported per 100,000 people for 2016.


Strategic relocation to the Redoubt is a major life-changing decision for a family and is based on a wide variety of factors. We have discussed some of the more significant underlying concepts.

The mission of the Redoubt can be summed up as: A movement seeking to create a community of like-minded individuals that share the concept of preparing for a calamitous event. This event will require communal collaboration and a strong measure of appropriate technology oriented towards significant self-sufficiency for an indeterminate period without many of the goods, utilities and services upon which we currently expect and depend.

Bill Harp is a technologist, geospatial analyst and cultural anthropologist.  He was Director of Technology (emeritus) of Bonner County and has a long career in defense and intelligence.

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