indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
The Rise of Tribes and the Fall of Federal Indian Law
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Tim Giago: Still sweating after 34 years of my weekly columns

Filed Under: Opinion
More on: media, tim giago
     

Notes from Indian Country
By Tim Giago (Nanwica Kciji)

A famous columnist once wrote, “It is easy to write a weekly column. All you have to do is sit in front of your typewriter until you sweat blood.”

Of course the typewriter has long since been replaced by the computer, but that concept of writing a weekly column still holds true.

I bring this up for a variety of reasons. First off, this year will mark my 34th year of writing a weekly column. In those 34 years I have written somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,768 columns. Some were good enough to win prestigious awards, some were mediocre, and others just plain awful, but over the years I persisted.

There are sources one can go to in researching facts and figures for a column, but at other times, especially when writing about the distant past, one has to rely entirely upon a good memory. I don’t know if it is just a cliché or a medical fact, but one does lose a certain amount of recall when reaching a certain age.

When one writes a weekly column for as long as I have, it should go without saying that there will be critics of all stripes. But it is a realism that comes with the territory.

One critic took exception to an article I wrote about the massacre at Wounded Knee because I wrote that my grandmother, Sophie, was a student at Holy Rosary Mission, about 15 miles from Wounded Knee, when the massacre occurred. The critic called me, and in a backhanded way, my grandmother, liars. I have a copy of a year book published by the priests at Holy Rosary Mission that points out the irrefutable fact that my grandmother was on the grounds of the mission school on December 29, 1890, the day of the massacre. I also have my grandmother’s word.

As the years have passed I find that this particular critic takes exception to everything I write and speaking to other columnists I find that many of them have one critic in particular who never ceases to criticize them at every turn.

If one writes anything that is open for public scrutiny one can expect feedback, sometimes good and sometimes horrible. I always taught the reporters that worked for me at my weekly newspaper not to be afraid of criticism and not to censor letters to the editor that were critical of the newspaper, the reporters or the management.

There were letters that came into my newspaper calling me an SOB and worse. Without hesitation they were published, but there were times we had to clean up the language a bit in order not to offend our readers. Sadly this is not true of many of the Indian owned newspapers and magazines published today. Indian Country Today magazine, which was a newspaper when I sold it to the Oneida Nation of New York State, will not print letters to the editor.

The consensus by newspapers and magazines owned by tribal governments seems to be that tribal governments are above criticism. Some of the criticisms they receive would be valid and others just so much political palaver, but it shouldn’t matter because every member of the tribe should have the freedom to criticize. The Oneida Nation and several other tribal governments do not believe this is so. Freedom of the press and of expression is not always available in Indian country.

As long as I continue to write my weekly column I know that there will be those I will offend, there will be those that will nit-pick each word and paragraph, and there will be those with legitimate complaints of errors I may have committed. And there will be those who would criticize every column I write.

Criticism can hurt and threats oftentimes come with the criticism and since I am only human, there will be times when I will err and the criticism is well deserved. There are also racists out there that tear into anything I write and, I am proud to say, there are those who truly appreciate the things I write about and some have even gone so far as to say some of the things I have written over the years has affected and even changed their very lives.

Over these 34 years of writing I have spoken to Native Americans that pursued careers in journalism, movie directing, publishing their own newspapers, and become professors of journalism or write books because of something I wrote that inspired them.

In the long run, this should be the real test of any writer. To bring about change simply through the written word has proven to me that the pen is mightier than the sword. So after 34 years I can say thank you to my fans as well as to my critics. Both have made me a better writer and a better person. And every week, I’m still sweating a little blood.

Tim Giago, an Oglala Lakota, was born, raised and educated on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard in the Class of 1991. He was inducted into the South Dakota Newspaper Hall of Fame in 2007. He can be reached at Unitysodak1@knology.net


More from Tim Giago:
Tim Giago: Why an Indian voted for a South Dakota Republican (11/12)
Tim Giago: Heart disease and diabetes invade Indian Country (11/5)
Tim Giago: Stuck like a fly in the honey of the Democratic Party (10/29)
Tim Giago: Kristi Noem is still the right choice for South Dakota (10/22)
Tim Giago: Alcoholism another vicious cycle in Indian Country (10/15)
Tim Giago: Race relations 22 years after Year of Reconciliation (10/8)
Tim Giago: Sister Ivo and the Mission boarding school epidemics (10/1)
Tim Giago: Still fighting 'Indian' mascots, ignorance and racism (9/24)
Tim Giago: Claiming Indian heritage does not make it right (9/17)
Tim Giago: Native people are no longer 'vanishing Americans' (9/10)
Tim Giago: Remembering when Custer 'died with his boots on' (9/3)
Tim Giago: Jim Amoss missed wonderful year at Harvard in '91 (8/27)
Tim Giago: The word 'honoring' should've read 'remembering' (8/20)
Tim Giago: A clear and present danger to our tribal sovereignty (8/13)
Tim Giago: Cloaks and daggers within the Indian Health Service (7/30)
Tim Giago: Kennedy family remains truly loved in Indian Country (7/23)
Tim Giago: Chris Rock was telling the truth on Independence Day (7/9)
Tim Giago: Native media has come a long way from 'talking leaves' (7/2)
Tim Giago: The 136th anniversary of the Battle at Little Big Horn (6/25)
Tim Giago: Racism in Indian mascots and that dreaded 'R-word' (6/18)
Tim Giago: 'Divide and rule' was unwritten goal of Indian agents (6/4)
Tim Giago: How the Grouchy Gourmet broke down racial barriers (5/28)
Tim Giago: Touching an eagle feather to Warren Buffett's brow (5/21)
Tim Giago: 'Beer sniffing' reporters descend upon Pine Ridge (5/14)
Tim Giago: 'Drill baby drill' is coming soon to Indian Country (5/7)
Tim Giago: Tatanka Iyotanka was a pure Lakota traditionalist (4/30)
Tim Giago: Rocky history of Natives and the Mormon Church (4/23)
Tim Giago: Dulaney was named 'Waonspekiye' or teacher (4/16)
Tim Giago: A month of tears, tragedy and happiness in April (4/9)
Tim Giago: When Leader Charge spoke, Kevin Costner listened (4/2)
Tim Giago: Turtle Mountain Times marks its 20th anniversary (3/26)
Tim Giago: Newspaper business should take look at its past (3/19)
Tim Giago: Lakota views missing from Keystone XL debate (3/12)
Tim Giago: Religion caused near destruction of Lakota families (3/5)
Tim Giago: Inspiring a new generation of Native Americans (2/27)
Tim Giago: South Dakota law aimed at Indian abuse victims (2/20)
Tim Giago: Indians as mascots for America's fun and games (2/13)
Tim Giago: Cobell settlement just another government rip-off (2/6)
Tim Giago: Rosebud constitution should be 'law of the land' (1/30)
Tim Giago: Reservation among poorest counties in America (1/23)
Tim Giago: Alcohol is a red flag that has been waving too long (1/16)
Tim Giago: The new year brings time for a couple of apologies (1/9)

Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
First Lady Michelle Obama shares story of hope with Indian school (5/26)
Remarks by First Lady Michelle Obama at Santa Fe Indian School (5/26)
Gary Davis of NCAIED joins Small Business Administration council (5/26)
Arne Vainio: A mother's gift carried me through many life journeys (5/26)
Native Sun News: Tribes score big in fights against energy projects (5/26)
Lakota Country Times: Education Secretary hears from Pine Ridge (5/26)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Ending Whiteclay beer sales starts at home (5/26)
Vi Waln: Rosebud Sioux youth lead efforts to bring relatives home (5/26)
Gyasi Ross: Drug epidemic sweeping through Native communities (5/26)
Jacqueline Keeler: Shameful and skewed poll on racist NFL name (5/26)
Interview with Melvin Monette about Cobell scholarship program (5/26)
Auction house in France won't stop sale of sacred tribal property (5/26)
United Keetoowah Band installs new leader after impeachment (5/26)
Kewa Pueblo builds new community around historic trading post (5/26)
Eastern Cherokee elder translates 'Charlotte's Web' into Tsalagi (5/26)
Puyallup Tribe works to keep language alive for new generations (5/26)
Iowa Tribe offers free play on poker website ahead of full launch (5/26)
Alabama-Coushatta Tribe offers gaming options closer to home (5/26)
Kaw Nation receives national award for tribal gaming initiatives (5/26)
Indian Health Service reform efforts gaining steam on Capitol Hill (5/25)
Indian Health Service announces more hires at troubled hospital (5/25)
Keepseagle attorneys open application process for $38M in grants (5/25)
Three tribes enter cooperative agreements for buy-back program (5/25)
New leader selected for HUD's Office of Native American Programs (5/25)
Indian relay racers gear up for event hosted by Muckleshoot Tribe (5/25)
Cronkite News: Tribes seek return of property up for sale in France (5/25)
Native Sun News: Anti-suicide effort incorporates tribal traditions (5/25)
Lakota Country Times: Pine Ridge youth showcase film projects (5/25)
Mark Trahant: Native vote victory for Tawna Sanchez in Oregon (5/25)
Brandon Ecoffey: Lakota people come together in times of need (5/25)
Editorial: Tribes must come up with plan for return of Black Hills (5/25)
John McCoy: Disenrollment and blood quantum are not our way (5/25)
Adrian Jawort: Addressing race relations and healing in Montana (5/25)
Fort Peck Tribes oppose new directive on transgender students (5/25)
Leader of United Keetoowah Band ousted through impeachment (5/25)
Agua Caliente Band launches software development company (5/25)
Sen. Barrasso to chair platform committee for GOP convention (5/25)
Cowlitz Tribe welcomes discussions with opponent over casino (5/25)
Little Traverse Bay Bands open doors to Class II gaming facility (5/25)
Tuolumne Band celebrates 15th birthday with casino expansion (5/25)
Former Winnebago Tribe casino employee denies theft charge (5/25)
Proposed rule brings LGBT equality to tribal housing programs (5/24)
Chairman of Quapaw Tribe endorses Democrat Hillary Clinton (5/24)
Appropriations bill blocks new federal recognition regulation (5/24)
Native American Children's Safety Act clears final Hill hurdle (5/24)
9th Circuit won't rehear Tohono O'odham Nation gaming case (5/24)
Lakota Country Times: Army promises return of tribal children (5/24)
Native Sun News: New business sprouts up at Wounded Knee (5/24)
Mark Trahant: Tulalip citizen lands role in Democratic platform (5/24)
Brandon Ecoffey: Pine Ridge unites for search of missing men (5/24)
Men who went missing found dead on Pine Ridge Reservation (5/24)
Billy Mills: Flawed poll can't justify use of team's racist mascot (5/24)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.