Dancers at the Prairie Island Indian Community's 2017 wacipi, or powwow. Photo: Lori Shaull
Opinion

Prairie Island Indian Community responds to 'racial stereotypes' in newspaper



The Prairie Island Indian Community isn't pursuing a casino on newly acquired land in Minnesota. So why does the local media keep questioning plans by the "Indians" for their land? The leaders of the tribe respond to a recent story in The St. Paul Pioneer Press:
The online clickbait headline of the story, “Will land near Woodbury spawn a casino? Residents worried, but Indians say not now,” uses the term “Indians” in such a way that promotes false racial stereotypes and misleading information.

We do not find the use of the term “Indian” in all contexts offensive; it’s part of our Tribe’s official name. But in the context of this article, and in an ongoing effort to incite doubt and fear, the use of the term was offensive, intentional, we believe, and underscores the disrespect that modern Native Americans battle as we continue to make efforts to improve life for our Oyate.

The land in West Lakeland was purchased by a Tribal government, which has a formal name. Referring to us merely as the “Indians” disregards our status as a federally recognized tribe and aims to further perpetuate false stereotypes. It reduces us to some nameless, faceless group that is sitting in a tribal casino … thinking about building more casinos; or worse.

If the land was purchased by another group, would the article’s headline ever have referred to that group in a term widely understood as derogatory? If a company comprised of Caucasian males owned the land, would the headline have read, “Will land near Woodbury spawn a casino? Residents worried, but white men say not now.” We doubt that it would.

Read More on the Story:
Prairie Island Indian Community: Taking exception: ‘The disrespect that modern Native Americans battle’ (The St. Paul Pioneer Press October 26, 2017)

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Prairie Island Indian Community refutes speculation of new casino in Minnesota (October 23, 2017)
Prairie Island Indian Community dispels 'racist' casino rumors (October 17, 2016)