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'America Is Indian Country'

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  • 'America Is Indian Country'

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    This Message Is Reprinted Under The Fair Use
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    'America Is Indian Country'

    (javascript:PrintWindow();) Posted: November 10, 2005 by: _Editors Report_
    ( / 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.
    Don't worry that it's not good enough for anyone else to hear... just sing, sing a song.sigpic

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