Editorial: Indian Country desperately needs free and open press

"So many at-risk children on the Spirit Lake Reservation are abused, and tribal officials have done so little, that the federal government should declare a state of emergency, a regional official of the U.S. government wrote last month.

"The children of the Spirit Lake Reservation are being subjected to actual abuse or the threat of such abuse due to the actions and inactions of adults who have responsibility to protect them from such abuse," wrote Thomas Sullivan, Denver region administrator for the U.S. Administration for Children and Families, in an email reported on by Forum Communications.

But here's a prediction: Even if the U.S. government declares a state of emergency, and even if that results -- as Sullivan hopes -- in qualified professionals being appointed to run programs, scandals and corruption on the reservation soon will surface once again.

And this has nothing specifically to do with Spirit Lake. Scandal and corruption stories dog many reservations, as tribal members know. Reforms come and reforms go, but the scandals continue, so the odds are they will continue for decades more.

Clearly, something more fundamental has to change in order to break the pattern and boost "good government's" odds. But what?"

Get the Story:
OUR OPINION -- Indian Country's most-needed reform: A free press (The Grand Forks Herald 7/1)

Related Stories:
HHS official blames Spirit Lake Nation for child abuse problems (6/22)
Sen. Hoeven seeks answers on Spirit Lake social services (04/25)
Editorial: A free press is essential, even in a tribal society (4/17)
Deaths of Spirit Lake Dakotah children treated as homicide (05/26)
Spirit Lake mother confirms identities of two slain children (5/25)
Father suspected for deaths of two children at Spirit Lake (5/24)

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