Tag Archives: Media

The Fight at Standing Rock Isn’t Over, but Vital Support and the Media Are Packing Up


(MIC) CANNON BALL, N.D. — Victory has been declared at Standing Rock. The media are clearing out, packing up satellite trucks and heading home. White allies who showed up in solidarity are breathing a sigh of relief. For them, the day is won, the black snake is dead, and it’s time to head home.

But for the indigenous people they are leaving behind, the fight will rage on, harder than ever before.

The Lakota Sioux people and their guests from around the globe built a veritable small city at Oceti Sakowin Camp in order to hold ground at Standing Rock, and now that the harsh North Dakota winter is settling in, they could be left with a bigger fight and fewer resources to fight it if the battle continues.

At night, communal sleeping spaces are organized with burning wood stoves.Source: David Goldman/AP

At night, communal sleeping spaces are organized with burning wood stoves.Source: David Goldman/AP

The police haven’t pulled back from the front lines, and the Dakota Access Pipeline company has no intention of leaving either.

“It’s a distraction,” Oceti Sakowin Camp volunteer Ethan Braughton said in an interview. “If they were leaving, they’d take the razor wire and all their vehicles, but they’re still continuing to get the drill pad ready. They’re not going anywhere, they just want us to leave.”

People climb the hills above Highway 1806 to the north of Oceti Sakowin Camp to get a better view of the police presence beyond the blockades.Source: Scott Olson/Getty Images

People climb the hills above Highway 1806 to the north of Oceti Sakowin Camp to get a better view of the police presence beyond the blockades.Source: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Big money will fight on

Skimming the headlines, one might think that the Dakota Access Pipeline is dead, but the truth is more complicated. The Army Corp of Engineers declined to grant Energy Transfer Partners, the corporation building the pipeline, the easement necessary to cross under Lake Oahe, and they called for environmental impact studies for alternative routes.

But ETP doesn’t intend to stop plowing through Sioux treaty lands, and Republicans are already bragging that once Donald Trump is in office, the pipeline will carry on as planned. The company already spent approximately $3.7 billion on finishing 85% of the pipeline.

“As stated all along, ETP and SXL are fully committed to ensuring that this vital project is brought to completion and fully expect to complete construction of the pipeline without any additional rerouting in and around Lake Oahe,” Energy Transfer Partners wrote in a release after the announcement. “Nothing this administration has done today changes that in any way.”

It’s unclear how ETP will carry on, but one rumor on the ground here at camp is that Energy Transfer Partners will continue to work and incur expensive daily fines — at this point, that’s just a widely circulated theory at Standing Rock.

The short-term victory against the pipeline effort was won by putting bodies on the line to occupy territory. The unintended consequence of celebration could be that those bodies become a scarce resource.

Using hope as a weapon

When the Morton County Sheriff’s department announced, falsely, that there would be $1,000 fines to people bringing supplies into Standing Rock, people weren’t deterred. When the North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple announced, falsely, that Standing Rock would be forced to evacuate, reinforcements still came.

Now, many of the Lakota Sioux and the Standing Rock resistance allies believe that all of the fanfare around the declared victory will just be another attempted deterrent, but this time using the illusion of success to convince the Sioux that their job is done, and that they can head home.

“They’re just making it look like they’re going to get out of here so people leave and we lose our numbers,” Braughton said. “It’s like the opposite of scare tactics — giving people hope where there is none.”

A blizzard battles Oceti Sakowin Camp the day after the victory announcement.Source: Jack Smith IV/Mic

A blizzard battles Oceti Sakowin Camp the day after the victory announcement.Source: Jack Smith IV/Mic

Even if the media turns its attention away and supporters leave the treaty lands, many of the Lakota Sioux have permanently settled at Standing Rock. It’s an area of the North Dakota plains that the indigenous rarely settle due to harsh winters, and the camp is already struggling to winterize structures and keep the roads clear as the first blizzards set in.

But they’re not leaving.

“It’s not over until they give this land back,” Tiger Forest, who’s been staying with the Lakota Sioux, said while taking shelter from the blizzard. “This is a fight for water, and for sacred land. They’re still going to need support here.”

“It’s not over.”

The Article titled The fight at Standing Rock isn’t over, but vital support and the media are packing up, By Jack Smith IV was originally posted in the MIC on December 06, 2016


With First Nations Snub, Trudeau Shows Contempt For Media


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with students, teachers, chiefs, and dignitaries at Oskayak High School in Saskatoon, Sask., Wednesday, April 27, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Matt Smith

Article By David Akin, canoe.com‎, Apr 28, 2016

AKIN: With First Nations snub, Trudeau shows contempt for media

There has been a running battle between prime ministers and the media going back to John A. Macdonald but on Thursday, Justin Trudeau took prime ministerial contempt for the country’s news organizations to new heights.

Trudeau made what is an unequivocally historic visit to a First Nations community in crisis. The people of Shoal Lake 40 have been living under a boil-water advisory for 17 years. They’ve pleaded with one federal government after another for financial help to build the infrastructure for clean drinking water.

But no Canadian news organization was permitted to document this historic encounter on the reserve that straddles Ontario and Manitoba.

The Trudeau PMO permitted only a crew from Vice Media, the New York-based company which is expanding in Canada, to record the visit.

Trudeau’s director of communications Kate Purchase said it was Vice’s idea. “This is an exclusive documentary, just as the prime minister’s one-on-one interviews with other media are exclusive to that outlet until the air date.”

Media organizations get “exclusive interviews” and good on Vice for getting this one. But it should be as plain as day that the visit of a Canadian PM to a First Nation in crisis is much, much bigger than a “one-on-one interview.” It is an event of immense public interest, deserving of broad and varied reportage.

In rejecting requests from organizations such as the Canadian Press or the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN), Trudeau is sending a signal that important public moments in the relationship between First Peoples and the federal government can be used as little more than a PMO image control exercise.

Postmedia Network, Global Television News, The Globe and Mail, CTV and other major news organizations immediately registered protests with Trudeau’s office.



7 Things About Native Americans You’ll Never Learn From The Mainstream Media


Native Americans have endured years of misrepresentation by the media.

Whether in TV, film, print or online, the stories we tell — or refuse to tell — about indigenous peoples have not only enshrined harmful stereotypes, but fueled centuries of land graft, state violence and containment in the United States, the reverberations of which are still felt today.

To unravel how these narratives impact Native communities — and what needs to be done to reclaim them — Mic spoke to three indigenous media makers: actress and poet MorningStar Angeline, who is Shoshoni, Blackfoot, Nez Perce, and Chippewa Cree; writer and photographer Jason Morgan Edwards, who is of African and Seminole descent; and Apsáalooke fashion designer Bethany Yellowtail.

Below are the stories they’ve said need to be told about Natives in the media today — and most importantly, told by Natives themselves:

1. We are diverse.

Map of the U.S. by original tribal territories Source: Tri Vo/Mic

Map of the U.S. by original tribal territories Source: Tri Vo/Mic

Natives are often represented as a “blanket ethnicity,” Yellowtail told Mic: They wear feathers and headdresses. They live in tepees. They paint their faces, ride horses, “wear fringe” and shoot bows and arrows.

In reality, there are more than 560 federally recognized Native tribes in the U.S., originating from every corner of the country, from the forests of upstate New York to the deserts of northern Arizona, and most places in between.

The cultural diversity among these populations mirrors their geographic diversity. Language, history, customs and migration patterns all vary, to the point that the idea they wear the same type of traditional clothing, build the same housing and engage in the same traditions is laughable.

“It matters that the media doesn’t showcase this diversity,” Yellowtail said. “It trickles down to our communities. It limits what our people can imagine themselves to be.”

2. We are not dying.

Source: Jim Watson /Getty Images

Source: Jim Watson /Getty Images

“The common box Native Americans … are constantly put in is the idea that we are artifacts or nonexistent,” Angeline told Mic via email. “[The media tends] to focus on Native Americans in period pieces and very rarely are Native American-inspired or -produced films set in contemporary times produced or supported.”

Even a simple Google Image search of “Native American” reveals how rare it is to find an image of an indigenous person from before 1880, whether in drawings, paintings, photographs or other media.

This modern erasure, Yellowtail added, “affects how young people shape their ambitions … How can they envision a future when they aren’t seen as alive?

“I’d like to see a serious Google overhaul,” she went on. “[When] the rest of the world Googles ‘Native American,’ I want them to see the real diversity and beauty of contemporary Native America. I want them to see … Winona LaDuke (activist), Gyasi Ross (lawyer, author and poet), Shoni Schimmel (WNBA player), Jeri Brunoe (performer and motivational speaker), Martin Sensmeier (actor), Sam McCracken (GM- Nike N7), Denise Juneau (U.S. politician) and Georgia Tsingine (doctor).”

In other words, indigenous America is not only the past, but also the present and future.

3. We are versatile.

John Bennett Harrington, the first Native American astronaut. Source: Getty Images

John Bennett Harrington, the first Native American astronaut. Source: Getty Images

“If you name any profession, any one at all, I can name a Native person that excels in that field,” Edwards toldMic in an email. “As far as film and TV, I personally know several accomplished actors, writers, directors, etc. But the majority of them are not household names, because they are type-cast into ‘Indian’ roles.”

Options for Native talent remain limited in mass media. If filmmakers need someone with “long, black hair, to ride a horse, wearing buckskin and war paint,” of course they cast a Native, Edwards said. “But if you need a scholarly, clean-shaven, young hero to save mankind from certain doom, your first choice is a Brad Pitt-type.”

Limits to Hollywood’s racial imagination are becoming apparent: Despite data showing that racial diversity can correspond with box office success, major mainstream films continue to shut out actors of color.

But this dynamic is not limited to the movies. What we are able to imagine Natives doing on-screen can also reflect in how we imagine them in day-to-day life.

“I’d like to communicate that we don’t just exist in Louis L’Amour novels,” Edwards said. “And we don’t all live in tepees. We are doctors and lawyers and astronauts and just regular people, just like anyone else.”

4. We are bigger than your fantasies.

Still from Walt Disney's 'Pocahontas' Source: Disney Junior/Getty Images

Still from Walt Disney’s ‘Pocahontas’ Source: Disney Junior/Getty Images

We all remember Disney’s Pocahontas. “Indian Princess” or “squaw” fantasies and their type have fueled the historical mythologies — and sexual imaginings — of Westerners for generations.

But the danger lies in the truths they obscure. In a series of tweets on Wednesday, Angeline highlighted, for instance, an account of Pocahontas’ actual (although widely debated) history that includes her kidnapping, sexual assault and coerced marriage to Englishman John Rolfe — all while she was just a teenager.


“There’s nothing accurate or positive about these [fantasies], so they need to be fully deconstructed and ultimately destroyed,” Angeline said.

This fantasy also misses a brutal reality. According to Amnesty International, Native women are 2.5 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than other women in the U.S., and in 86% of reported cases, their attackers are non-Native men.

“When you see hyper-sexualized and fetishized images of Native women in pop culture and media, you have to also remember the assaults, and the missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada,” Yellowtail said.

5. We have urgent stories that need to be told.

An Apache activist protests the government land swap of Arizona holy land Oak Flat in front of the U.S. Capitol. Source: Molly Riley/AP

An Apache activist protests the government land swap of Arizona holy land Oak Flat in front of the U.S. Capitol. Source: Molly Riley/AP

There’s another problem with framing Natives as relics of a bygone era: It ignores the pertinent challenges they face literally as we speak.

Aside from disproportionate rates of poverty, trauma and violence at the hands of law enforcement, multiple Native-focused stories bear far more coverage in the news today, Yellowtail said.

The protests against the government swap of a Native holy site in Arizona called Oak Flat to a Phoenix-based mining company are one example; the EPA gold mine spill that happened in Colorado earlier this month that’s devastating the Navajo Nation is another; the group of activists that recently chased Sen. John McCain off a Navajo reservation in Arizona; and the protests blockading construction of the Keystone XL pipeline — all are issues that people nationwide should know about.

6. We create and showcase our own art.

Writer-director Sterlin Harjo (left) and actor Rod Rondeaux (right) discuss their film "Mekko" at this year's Los Angeles Film Festival. Source: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Writer-director Sterlin Harjo (left) and actor Rod Rondeaux (right) discuss their film “Mekko” at this year’s Los Angeles Film Festival. Source: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Angeline makes a stark distinction: “No representation is better than harmful representation.”

In some cases, Natives are blatantly disrespected in media environments, which is reportedly why Native actorswalked off the set of Adam Sandler’s Ridiculous Six film. In other cases, roles meant to represent them are given to white actors, as when Rooney Mara was cast as Tiger Lily in the Peter Pan reboot, or Jane Krakowski as Jacqueline Voorhees in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

Angeline points to a lack of Native presence both on- and off-set in media as the problem. But there’s plenty of Native talent working now to cultivate more Native talent, while taking stands against the bigotry that would otherwise marginalize them.

Edwards, a journalist, is currently covering the Santa Fe Indian Market, one of the country’s largest gatherings of Native artists. “Natives have made significant inroads in media,” he said. “[And] when I interview them for stories, I really try to make [them] relatable.

“My grandma used to tell me, ‘Jason, the Lord gave you two ears but only one mouth for a reason.’ I don’t just write about Natives. I am Native. And I am a part of the community.”

Angeline is strictly principled in the kind of work she accepts. “There will always be someone to fill roles that do not accurately portray Native American’s or flat-out disrespect our culture, tribes, women, men, children,  etc.,” she said. “I have just made a conscious choice to not be a part of such projects. That often means less work, less money, possibly less ‘success’ — but I don’t think assisting these negative portrayals would be my kind of success anyway.”

7. We are everywhere.

Native Americans protest against the Washington Redskins' racist mascot at Mall of America field in Minnesota. Source: Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Native Americans protest against the Washington Redskins’ racist mascot at Mall of America field in Minnesota. Source: Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

The popular perception of where Natives live today remains quite limited.

“[We] are perceived as disappeared or people of the past and not living, breathing peoples of this century,” Yellowtail said. Indeed, the most widely proliferated images of Natives frame them in either historical or rural contexts — either Dances With Wolves or the rare piece of media set on a reservation.

However, 7 out of 10 indigenous Americans live in metropolitan areas, according to U.S. Census data reported in the New York Times. This migration has swelled since the 1940s, when only 8% lived in cities. “When you look at it as a percentage, the black migration [of the 1920s to 1940s] was nothing in comparison to the percentage of Native Americans who have come to urban areas,” Dr. Philip R. Lee, an emeritus professor of social medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, told the New York Times.

It’s time for the real stories to be told. It’s time for the lies to end.

This article was originally published in MIC, By Zak Cheney-Rice on  August 21, 2015


First Nations reach out to the local media


Jennifer Hamilton-Mccharles | The Nugget

Sit back, listen and learn.

That was the approach taken Monday at the Indian Friendship Centre when reporters were invited to help bridge the gaps between local media and Indigenous communities.

At first it sounded like us versus them.

Journalists on one side of the room trying to defend their rights while First Nations people complained about the local media’s negative approach to stories such as ghost nets found in Lake Nipissing, land claims, protests against wind farms and development of the Ring of Fire to name a few subjects.

But I was wrong.

Indigenous communities realize the important role media plays and the need for journalists to keep telling stories about issues affecting local communities.

A First Nations woman spoke out about the need for more media attention on issues such as missing Aboriginal women.

“This is a crisis. We have got to band together and tell the federal government it’s not OK,” she said. “The media educates the population about what is happening in our communities.”

No argument there.

But then there were the examples I was afraid of – Ipperwash and the full-page colour ad published last year in a Thunder Bay newspaper from a political candidate which featured statements like “No group of people are ‘entitled’ to handouts, Crown lands are public lands. Not native lands” and “Help me stop the ‘gravy train.’”

Fort William First Nation Chief Georjann Morriseau came out saying she was appalled the newspaper would publish the ad.

Although that issue occurred far from North Bay, it doesn’t help relationships between media and First Nations.

It’s easy for the public to paint all reporters with the same brush.

Maurice Switzer, one of the workshop facilitators, said Indigenous communities already have trust issues stemming back to residential schools.

“I believe the more informed a reporter can be the better the reporter,” he said.

“The Ministry of Education is adding another year onto the bachelor of education program, and part of the curriculum will focus on First Nations. That is a good thing.”

Switzer also told the 20 people in attendance a new curriculum focused on First Nations treaties will soon be available to elementary school teachers.

He said relationships like the one The Nugget has with the Union of Ontario Indians is a first in the province.

The daily newspaper allows the UOI a full page every Saturday titled Niijii Circle. The page focuses on the good work and accomplishments of First Nation communities.

Awards have been shared between the two organizations and relationships created, but more work needs to be done.

Reporters and Indigenous communities need to continue to keep the lines of communication open. Workshops about cultural respect and proper protocol would be helpful. At the same time, First Nations need to realize we also have a job to do.

We have deadlines and need comments from community leaders to keep stories balanced.

The workshop, organized by Journalists for Human Rights in partnership with the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres, has opened my eyes and hopefully made me a more well-rounded and educated reporter.


N.B. shale gas protester gets six-month sentence, probation for making threats against media

A police cruiser on fire is seen at the site of a shale gas protest in Rexton, N.B., Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013. (Ossie Michelin / Twitter)

A police cruiser on fire is seen at the site of a shale gas protest in Rexton, N.B., Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013. (Ossie Michelin / Twitter)

 CTV News

A 26-year-old man from the Elsipogtog First Nation, who pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a 2013 fracking protest in New Brunswick, has been sentenced.

Tyson Peters pleaded guilty last September to charges of uttering threats, assaulting a police officer and intimidation towards the media, which were laid after separate incidents in the fall of 2013, New Brunswick RCMP say.

On Friday Peters was sentenced in Moncton provincial court to six-month conditional sentence, and 12 months of probation after the sentence has been served.

The sentence includes two months of house arrest for each of the three offences, but to be served concurrently.

The charges against Peters are related to his participation in protests against shale gas operations in the Rexton, N.B. area, stemming from incidents that occurred between Sept. 30 and Oct. 19, 2013.