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Blackbear 11-11-2005 11:04 PM

'America Is Indian Country'
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'America Is Indian Country'

(javascript:PrintWindow();) Posted: November 10, 2005 by: _Editors Report_
(http://www.indiancountry.com/author.cfm?id=471) / Indian Country Today

In a packed lecture room at the City University of New York Graduate
Center, editors and columnists from Indian Country Today shared anecdotes and
analyses of current events. The occasion, sponsored by the Flying Eagle Woman
Fund and Fulcrum Publishing, was the publication of the book ''America is
Indian Country: Opinions and Perspectives from Indian Country Today.'' It convened
old friends who recalled mileposts from the Indian consciousness movement of
the 1970s to today.

''America is Indian Country'' represents a collective production of the core
group of editorialists and columnists who write for these pages. Twenty-one
contributors of editorials and perspective pieces ranged through myriad
topics and themes in the book; and five of these, Katsi Cook, John Mohawk,
Associate Editor Jim Adams, Executive Editor Tim Johnson and Senior Editor Jose
Barreiro, attended the Manhattan event. Mohawk, Cook and Barreiro recounted
anecdotes from their 30 years of collaboration, which goes back to the early
publishing of the Indian movement publication called Akwesasne Notes.

In the introduction to ''America is Indian Country'' the reader is invited
to consider Indian country from the viewpoint that American Indians - our
families, peoples and nations - hold in common principles of community and tribal
ways, and have many jurisdictional matters to defend. These concerns deserve
the clearest of thinking. They also deserve a wide-ranging discussion, where
all well-argued positions are considered openly and respectfully. We
believe that our points of view must rightfully range and sometimes clash, tribally
and nationally. This must be possible without destructive approaches. The
widest reporting and deepest debate comprise exactly the recipe needed to
establish the kinds of solutions-oriented discussions that make achievement

From direct experience, the generation that refashioned this newspaper
carries in its memory those times when poverty was endemic and, even worse, when
most governments responded to Indian demands with police or military action.
Little hope prevailed. Within this generation, disadvantage has begun to turn
toward advantage. So it is that we shared and respected the vision that a
high-quality national American Indian newspaper must be of benefit to all
Indian peoples, each of whom can learn from each other's experiences.

Former Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell wrote in his preface to the book:
''Indian country has needed good, serious journalism, one backed by intelligent
curiosity, always with tough, penetrating questions and yet always, too,
consciously respectful in the handling of people and information. We all benefit
from professional reporting and crisp analysis.''

At the event, Mohawk noted the urgency of the Indian movement era. He
recalled having to choose either an early career in academia or, in recognition of
the potentials of the times, throwing his lot in with the movement. Akwesasne
Notes, which Mohawk described as a precursor to the modern ICT in terms of
carrying the crux of the national Indian discourse, became the Indian
information vehicle in the 1970s. Mohawk recruited Barreiro, Cook and many others to
that work.

The term ''sovereignty,'' which became the driving wedge of the Indian
movement, was heard increasingly in the mid-'70s. Cook, a midwife and ICT
columnist, recalled a meeting of traditional Haudenosaunee chiefs, clan mothers and
activists which took place at Loon Lake, N.Y., in 1977. ''Some of the most
interesting thinking about how to prepare for our future came out of those days
of meetings,'' she said.

Applying some of the best thinking from among the people, the folks in
attendance at Loon Lake sought an Indian definition of sovereignty. In its most
encompassing approach, what is sovereignty? When can a people in fact assert
their inherent freedom to be who they are?

A useful framework that outlined five major areas of sovereignty emerged
from that meeting. In order for a people to be sovereign, they have to have
control of these main areas of community or nation life: governance, land and
economy, education and socialization of young people, health and reproduction
and psycho-spiritual definition. ''In each of those areas, people could work
toward sovereignty. It was the one on health and reproduction that caught my
attention. I understood then that my work on midwifery had everything to do
with sovereignty,'' Cook said.

Barreiro stressed the importance of the Native self-expression explosion of
the past 20 years - in the arts, literature, academic research and
journalism. Education, once a weapon used to destroy Native culture, is now
increasingly in line with pride in culture. Educated Native professionals are now
present in every walk of life, while the international indigenous work at the
United Nations dovetailed the need to create alliances for remote Indian

At the event, this newspaper's editors spoke of the collaboration principle
of the group that reworked ICT into a national Indian newspaper while Adams,
formerly with the Wall Street Journal, let it be known that his association
with ICT is the most prized of his long and distinguished career. A
traditional conservative, Adams has a keen appreciation for the injustices still
suffered by Indian peoples.

While ''America is Indian Country'' is not a comprehensive volume of every
major American Indian event that had national ramifications in the years 2000
through 2004, the new book provides readers with a contextual view, framed by
American Indian editors, of events and ideas that shaped American Indian
opinion at the beginning of a new century.

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