The Coeur D’Alene Human Rights Institute
Anneliese Miller has been involved with the Coeur d’Alene human rights institute for about half of its life. She says the institute provides cultural education and raises awareness of critical human rights issues in the community.
The organization grew out of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations, which began challenging the Aryan Nations. A lawsuit bankrupted the neo-Nazis and landed the foundation a historic building in downtown Coeur d’Alene.
The History of the Empire Electric Railway Station
In 1946, the Great Northern Railway boosted its galaxy of streamlined trains with two Empire Service locomotives, the largest of their kind ever built. Combined, they weighed 102 tons and developed 5,000 horsepower at the rail. Travel time between New York City and Buffalo was cut from seven to three hours; and Albany to Schenectady was reduced to less than two.
The Great Northern Railway was a major player in the western development of electric interurban and city railroads. Its chief, James J. Hill, gained fame as “The Empire Builder.” The name also distinguished the line’s leading passenger train, still operating to this day.
Anneliese Miller has been involved with the Human Rights Education Institute (HREI) for about a decade. HREI’s mission is to celebrate diversity and promote human rights through education, raising awareness and inspiring transformation in our community. Its values include compassion, respect, dignity and partnership. Its goals are to affirm and uphold the principles established in the Constitution of the United States and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The HREI’s Mission
The HREI’s exhibits, programs and people energize area children, students, residents and visitors to integrate civil rights into their lives. It promotes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and honors diversity, education, respect, dignity and inclusivity.
Rachel is a sculptor who teaches art for K-12 education at North Idaho College and works as a contract artist with the city of Coeur d’Alene on various community projects, including the 2006 Fountains of Wishes. Her family has African-American, Native American and European heritages. She values truth taught in all faith traditions and combines her spirituality with passion for activism and community action.
As the first director of the institute, she led it through a successful lawsuit against the Aryan Nations and secured a historic building for the center after receiving a grant from the Greg C. Carr Foundation. However, the grant was not endowed and the institute struggles with its $115,000 budget each year. Her goal is to build sustainable funding.
The HREI’s Exhibits
The institute’s events, programs and exhibits energize North Idaho children, students, business people and residents, encouraging them to promote human rights and celebrate diversity. “We’re changing hearts and minds,” says Anneliese Miller, an architect at Miller Stauffer Architects who has served on the board for five years and as president for three.
The HREI grew out of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations, which began as an anti-white supremacy group. Its founders sought legal action against Aryan Nations members who harassed the community.
They also sought a place to educate. They secured a historic building from philanthropist Greg Carr and launched the HREI.
The institute now houses a large hall, small exhibit area and media/classroom. Exhibits focus on water and limited resources; sex and gender issues; and Chinese culture and policies. The institute is open for visits and tours. Its staff includes Rachel Dolezal, who develops education programs and writes curricula; and Donna Cork, who oversees operations.
The HREI’s Events
The HREI hosts events to raise awareness about various human rights issues. These include a series of talks with people from diverse backgrounds and the Peace Lives Here gallery, featuring artwork that illustrates human rights principles and responsibilities.
The institute also hosts a number of Chautauqua performances, including Jimmie Lucas as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other speakers and performers. It also holds an annual human rights banquet with a keynote speaker and uses part of the proceeds to award minority student scholarships at North Idaho College.
Rachel Dolezal and Donna Cork co-direct the organization, which now has a staff of seven and a building beside Coeur d’Alene city park. Rachel focuses on developing educational programs, writing curricula and creating artistic exhibits, while Donna oversees administration and business development. Despite incidents of hate from white supremacists, Rachel believes North Idahoans are more interested in learning and promoting change than in hating. Her hope is that the HREI can help others become leaders, not followers.