Whenever there is a change of administrations whether in Washington or in Indian Country there is always a pause for consternation amongst the tribal members.
Too often the ideologies of the new leader conflicts with those of the indigenous population and bad things are handed down. Go through your history books, that is if they are books that have the courage to print the actual history of the Indian Nations, and you will see that Act after Act and law after law was introduced over the past 2 centuries that severely damaged the Indian people and that meant the loss of land, the illegal taking of land (Black Hills) and laws that handcuffed the practice of the indigenous religions and the practice of indigenous traditions and laws.
All of it was supposedly done for the good and the advancement of the indigenous population.
It looks like we (the Indian people) and the population of America in general, may be in for some major adjustments to our way of life under the new president Donald Trump.
As a newspaper that lives under the motto “Standing up for the people’s right to know” we, and most of the media in America, will be governed by a man who not only dislikes the media, but usually answers questions asked by reporters with hostility often leading to an attack upon the reporter and of the news media outlet where he or she works.
Oglala Lakota Attorney Mario Gonzalez made an analogy many years ago that stands as an example of the fear of power. He said, “There is a religious order in Pennsylvania called the Shakers. They get so intensely immersed in their religious practice that it causes them to fear those around them so much so that they literally shake. Sometimes I think that is the way the Indian people feel when they feel that they are pushed into a corner and unable to fight back.”
At his first news conference since July Trump let it be known that he would continue to bully the media as president just as he did as a candidate running for office. He attacked Buzzfeed and its editor calling it a “pile of trash” and then refused to answer a question by Bob Costa of CNN by calling it a “fake news” organization.
Here is how a news reporter named Mel Girtov summed up his impression of the news conference:
“First Trump will be the same blustering, haughty president that he was on the campaign trail.
Second, that access to him will be extremely limited and produce very little news.
Third, that any news he dislikes will be labeled as fake, and the messenger will pay a price.
Fourth, that Trump will completely disregard ethical guidelines at home just as he disregards them abroad.”
For those of us who have been covering Indian Country for many years we are very familiar with this approach to the media. Time and again we have been pushed aside and ignored by tribal leaders unwilling to answer our questions and totaling disregarding the rights of the people to know what their government is doing.
So this is nothing new to the Indian media whether we are acting in the capacity of a tribally owned newspaper or as an independent. Getting the government to open up in the name of transparency is difficult, but we remain optimistic. Our job is to keep our readers informed and educated and we will continue to do this regardless of the obstacles we may face.
Trump appears to be set in his ways and we do not expect him to change. We have a new president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe named Scott Weston and since he is new we do not know how he will behave to the media, but from the comments we have received from those who have observed him during his campaign we believe he will be open to keeping the tribal membership informed.
(Contact the Native Sun News Today Editorial Board at email@example.com)