From the Editor's Desk: Building community investment

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whats_new_-_walfred_walking_bull.jpgRecently, two social media experts came

to The Circle office on a walking tour of Franklin Avenue to

ask two simple questions: “What kind of community are you trying to

build here” and “What are you most excited about in this

community”?

If you’ve followed the Adam Sandler

movie controversy, you’ve come across Vanilla Ice’s claims to

“Chactaw” [sic] ancestry as a way to defend the “The Ridiculous

Six” and its offensive portrayals of Native people. As the

reporters of the story eviscerating the erstwhile 90s rap star’s

claims noted, “Even most tribal members and leaders do not feel

comfortable speaking for their entire tribe or for all Native

Americans, as Rob tried to do in justifying the inexcusable jokes in

The Ridiculous Six.” So when answering those seemingly simple

questions, foreshadows of indignant Tweets, Facebook posts and

various other reactions run through this editor’s head.

Answering as accurately as I could

recall, I gave a history of this newspaper, from its inception as a

newsletter of the Minneapolis American Indian Center in 1980 to where

we sit now, an independent, non-profit chronicle of the community.

The second question gave me pause to consider the future of the Urban

Indian community and the momentum its built as an economic, cultural

and political powerhouse in 40 short years. From police brutality to

inaugurating Indigenous Peoples Day at the city level of government

and onward, the Native community in the Twin Cities has a great deal

to celebrate this American Indian Month. In my short time as managing

editor, it’s remarkable to see the texture, color and form of this

community change over the years; it’s truly an honor to record the

living history.

That being said, we are constantly

aware of where we miss the mark. If breaking news happens, The

Circle is not always in the best position to write the story in

real time. The Native community deserves better. But pointing out a

problem and solving it are two vastly different things, like armchair

quarterbacking and calling the play; simply wishing for a solution

and doing the work to make it happen require acknowledging the

investment we all have in this community.

The Circle functions as the

living historical chronicle of the Minnesota Native community and is

its platform to express opinion, tell stories and connect through

events. It has done so for 35 years and by the will and support of

the community, will continue to do so for decades to come.

Like any other business or

organization, we rely on our fellows to support us through

advertising, sponsorships and subscriptions. While individuals and

sponsors have always been more than generous with their financial

support of The Circle, the investment from other businesses

and organizations are not what they used to be. We have always served

the community best when it has recognized our contributions to its

own history, it’s a symbiotic relationship that does best when

attended to by both sides.

As we continue to be aware of where we

fail at news coverage, we approach the solution with vigor and

candor. On May 12, at 12:30 p.m., The Circle – along with

its media partner Twin Cities Daily Planet – will host the media

cafe “News from A Franklin Avenue Perspective,” where we invite

you to tell us what stories are happening, what views require

attention and how best to bring those to print. It is your

opportunity to demonstrate your personal investment in our living

history by guiding the coverage that we offer.

To that end, we continue to offer

reporting on subjects not ordinarily covered in Native media, much

less mainstream media. This month, The Circle welcomes veteran

journalist Lee Egerstrom, who will be writing about business and

economics in Indian Country. He was a long-time writer on

agriculture, rural development and cooperative business developments

for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. He was also a Washington

correspondent in the 1970s for Knight Ridder Newspapers covering

agriculture, trade, Indian affairs and Congress, focusing on news for

the Pioneer Press, Duluth News-Tribune, Grand Forks Herald and

Aberdeen American News.

Most recently, Egerstrom was the

economic development fellow for the former Minnesota 2020 think-tank

where he specialized in researching and writing about developments

among various ethnic communities. Among awards and honors, Egerstrom

won the National Press Club’s Washington Correspondent of the Year

Award for Congressional Reporting, the Newspaper Farm Editor of the

Year Award from the North American Agricultural Journalists, and this

past year Canadian, U.S., Puerto Rican and Caribbean members of the

Association of Cooperative Educators (ACE) organization honored Lee

with the ACE Award for Outstanding Contribution to Cooperative

Education and Training.

What excites us at The Circle is

the broad view of our community’s story. It’s one that is never

ceasing, always changing and filled with people and institutions that

offer experience and hope for the future. We recommit ourselves to

your service and invite your investment in our well being.