From the Editor's Desk: Building community investment
Monday, May 04 2015
Written by Alfred Walking Bull, The Circle Managing Editor,
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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.

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