Master of Jurisprudence in Indian Law - University of Tulsa College of Law
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Opinion
Z Magazine: Media coverage of Indian Country


"In September 2005, after the San Juan Pueblo reverted to the community's traditional name of Ohkay Owingeh, a journalist asked the pueblo's governor Joe Garcia when the decision would become official. Garcia didn't understand what the journalist meant. When would New Mexico or Washington officially recognize the name change, the journalist wanted to know.

"We're a sovereign government," Garcia patiently explained to the reporter. "We polled our people and they agreed. So it's official."

Since the issue of tribal sovereignty rarely surfaces in the mainstream media, the reporter's confusion is understandable, though regrettable. When the rare journalist turns to Indian Country, the resulting stories tend to revolve around casinos (Indians are greedy), the Abramoff scandal (Indians are corrupt), or tragedies like last year's teenage shooter on the Red Lake reservation in Minnesota (Indians are just plain crazy). But cupidity, corruption, and craziness are no more prevalent among the several million citizens of Indian Country than anywhere else in the United States."

Get the Story:
John Feffer: Covering Indian Country (Z Magazine 5/27)