David Treuer: America focusing on extremes in Indian Country

"During the election cycle we tend to ask: What does America mean; where are we going? And then someone decides to check on the Indians to find out the answer, as though Indians represent America's soul hidden in the attic. And of course politicians have long stood next to their "souls" and posed for pictures on the campaign trail.

Within the last year, Diane Sawyer and "20/20" did a special on the sorry conditions at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, and the New Yorker featured a grim photo essay on Pine Ridge too. The New York Times published a piece on brutal crime at the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming and another on the deep financial problems at Foxwoods, the Pequot-owned "world's largest" casino in Connecticut. Indians make the news, but the news isn't really news, it's just a way for the country take its temperature.

In America, fear of the poor is equaled only by uncomfortable fascination with the rich. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the reporting about Indians and Indian reservations, which seem to be represented only when they are one or the other, but mostly when they are poor. In the rush to extremes, what is missed is a more vital (and vast) middle that goes unnoticed in stories about American Indian lives."

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David Treuer: As long as the grass grows and the poverty shows (The Los Angeles Times 5/20)

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