|Written by Alfred Walking Bull,
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Hau! Alfred Walking Bull emaciyapi yelo. Cante waste nape ciuzapi yelo. Hello, my name is Alfred Walking Bull. I shake your hand with a good heart.
It’s custom in Lakota culture for the younger generations to ask forgiveness for speaking in front of one’s elders. It’s also our custom to give thanks to those who have come before us and acknowledge them in public.
With my recent arrival, the outgoing editor Cat Whipple has been more
than patient, guiding me during this transition of this great
institution of Native news, arts and culture. In poring through past
issues in my free time, I’ve been humbled by the trust placed in any
editor of The Circle. Her work over these past 13 years is a celebration
of our story, working through the lean years and guiding it to what it
is today: the paper of record for the Native community in Minnesota.
Whether it’s been issues like health care, reservation life, art,
politics, environmentalism or any one of the myriad of coverage The
Circle provides, it does so in a culturally relevant and sensitive way
that represents our voices.
In the mainstream media, we too often see our cultures reduced to hyperbolic comedy or tragedy that takes the tone that we are, somehow, defeated and irrelevant. Whether we live in Red Lake, Shakopee, Mille Lacs, Sisseton-Wahpeton, Pine Ridge or Turtle Mountain, we all know we are part of a living, thriving and rich society with its own special nuance and complexity.
Our goal during my tenure as editor of this publication will be to expand The Circle in ways that will give us all a voice and a sense of ownership in telling our own stories in new ways. We hope to expand our online presence as a way to open our political and culture issues to a larger audience in the effort to remind the mainstream media that our news and opinions influence larger concerns. It is happening now on the web in small ways, but needs to happen in a larger and more urgent manner.
Recently, The New York Times editorial board, influenced by the reporting of its team of writers, bloggers and columnists, took note of how the Sequester is impacting tribes in Indian Country. We saw in NPR reporting how cutting tribal school budgets meant a lack of basic transportation and access to education on the Navajo Nation. Our concerns are being addressed in the public sphere in how slicing already thin budgets to the Indian Health Service and law enforcement is causing Pine Ridge to teeter into an even more desperate situation.
The news is not all bad, however. Through social media, we saw the rise of two sisters earlier this year whose “rez ball dreams” were realized on the national stage. Indian Country rose with pride during the “Schimmel Show” and an entire generation of youth – particularly young women – saw themselves as having the potential to do more, to be more.
Activists are fighting the likes of Enbridge, TransCanada and the federal government itself for control of our treaty territories and our own children. In the national press, there is too often a tendency to gloss over finer points of tribal and federal relationships. This is where an institution such as The Circle must develop a way, not to directly advocate, but to draw on the experiences of its reporting staff to present a fair perspective.
We recognize, though, that picking a direction and walking there are two different journeys. We need you. We need the readers to continue to read, engage and help us tell the stories that fall through the cracks. We need more staff to be able to write those stories, and record and edit the videos and audio. And we need the resources to be able to afford that coverage.
So we call on you, wherever you are, whatever it is that you do, whomever it is that you know, to come with us on this direction to reclaim our voice in the media to join us. Whether that’s an email, letter, or if it’s pointing us in a direction to expand our revenue in ethical and culturally relevant ways, we call on you to take part in the conversations we’ll be having in the coming months.