This letter has been
sent to City Pages' "Letters" department
To the editor:
been a month now, since Mike Mosdale's article, "No
published in the Twin Cities City
Pages. I'm not surprised that there
hasn't been much response to the article by the defenders of the status
quo, because this has often been their reaction to the Native American
Press' exposing corruption and other abuses affecting Indian people in
Minnesota: a resounding silence.
Stonewalling has been a frequent
tactic of the tribal establishment in the past, along with adept
manipulation of White guilt. I have heard that there were a number of
telephone calls made to City Pages
about the "No Reservations" article:
vitriolic calls to the editors from members of the tribal establishment
and their bought-and-paid-for flunkies (including tribal council
officers, tribal attorneys, public relations consultants, and
bureaucrats). In my understanding, the genuine and pressing problems
which confront Indian people need to be addressed publicly, through
honest and open dialogue--not by veiled threats and other attempts at
I would like to commend Mike Mosdale for his
article. I thought that it was extremely well-written, and that Mr.
Mosdale had a good grasp of the underlying issues. He made a point of
exploring the philosophy of the Native American Press--and he did a
superlative job in seeking out other points of view, writing a balanced
and fair article.
However, I was a little disappointed in City
Pages. Although Mr. Mosedale spent a lot of time and effort with
the staff at Press/ON, the City Pages chose not to publish
single word mentioning two of the most important stories that we have
ever covered (the Jawnie
Hough and Clara NiiSka stories). Both of these stories involve
longstanding civil rights abuses in reservation tribal courts.
Over the years,
Press/ON has made an ongoing effort to document the travesties of
injustice perpetrated on reservations. The Jawnie Hough
case is the most
egregrious case I've seen throughout the thirty
I've been writing about tribal courts: a legal nightmare for a mother
who faced Minnesota criminal charges based on the Red Lake Court of
Indian Offenses' reversal of State-granted custody of her little girl.
Red Lake tribal chairman Bobby Whitefeather's forcible
removal of Clara
NiiSka--right out of the tribal courtroom--is a similarly blatant
of power. These are stories that none of the major media have taken an
interest in reporting on, nor have they attended to other difficult
did print limited coverage of Jeff
Armstrong's case--a Press/ON
reporter arrested and taken to jail by
tribal police in order to prevent his reporting on a public meeting at
Mille Lacs. If Armstrong had been a reporter for a major news-paper,
the story would have made headlines nationwide.
American Press' mission is to provide a voice for the people, as
as to foster, encourage and promote accountability, civil rights, and
honest government. I initially established the paper to help tribal
members improve conditions on their reservations. At first, we thought
that by removing corrupt officials from the tribal councils, we would
be able to assist tribal members in addressing the deplorable social
conditions on the reservations. But, I've come to the conclusion that
the problem is entrenched in the system which exists on the
reservations, and until that system is changed, many conditions on the
reservations will only continue to get worse.
the continued dependency of the tribes on the federal government will
continue to grow, despite their gambling wealth. Most Minnesotans do
not realize that about 80% of the approximately sixty thousand Indians
in the state of Minnesota do not live on the reservations, nor do 90%
of us receive any benefit from tribal gambling enterprises.
invite City Pages to further
address Indian issues in the future, and
to help improve the abysmal situation on Minnesota Indians'