The offending headline in the January 31, 2015, issue of The Rapid City Journal. Photo from Chase Iron Eyes / Last Real Indians / Facebook
Freedom of the press defended by Native Sun News Publisher
By Richie Richards
Native Sun News Staff Writer
PINE RIDGE –– On Feb. 24, the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council passed Resolution 15-30. This resolution supported Pass Creek District’s request for all businesses on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to stop selling the Rapid City Journal (RCJ) and to put a halt to business with Attorney Patrick Duffy.
Duffy is an attorney and a writer for RCJ and will represent Trace O’Connell in his court proceedings. O’Connell is the person being charged with Disorderly Conduct for the Rush Hockey Game incident involving the American Horse students and staff on Jan. 24.
In the resolution, it is stated, “A group of white males in the VIP suit (sic) poured beer and made racial remarks toward the said students. On Wednesday, February 18, 2015, Tracy O’Connell was charged merely with disorderly conduct, and “WHEREAS, Patrick Duffy (attorney for Tracy O’Connell) is to be removed (if any) as a contractor, or paid by the Oglala Sioux Tribe in any capacity, and revoke his business license to practice in Oglala Sioux Tribal Court and Patrick Duffy is also a writer for Rapid City Journal, and…”
The resolution goes on to discuss the Jan. 31, RCJ headline “Did Native students stand for National Anthem?” for an article written by Seth Tupper to which it was believed by those voting for Resolution 15-30 there was no evidence or facts in writing and that the “Rapid City Journal intent was to blame the students,..”
The resolution was passed by an overwhelming vote of 17 for, 0 against, 0 abstaining, and 1 not voting.
Mistakes in journalism are a daily and frequent occurrence; stories are retracted, apologies are often made, lawsuits are won and lost over misinformation, and corrections can be found in most publications.
The Rapid City Journal, over the decades, has had its fair share of mistakes. They have been accused of racism and one-sided reporting by many groups; this is not a surprising occurrence for a publication in a border town sometimes called “Racist City.”
Despite this recent mistake, RCJ is a resource for information in sports, community events, national and world occurrences, and advertises Native-run businesses on and off the reservations.
What happened to the 57 students of American Horse was a horrific experience and the emotional response from parents and the community has been publicized by several media outlets around the country. This includes the Rapid City Journal as well.
Native Sun News contacted RCJ Executive Editor Bar Pfakuch who said, “We respect the right of the tribal council to vote as its members see fit; however, the Journal feels that to deprive citizens of their access to important information goes against the principle of free speech and the important right of residents to know what is happening in their community, their state and the world. So for that reason, we hope the tribal council will reverse its decision and restore the free flow of information to all citizens of South Dakota.”
Tim Giago, Publisher of the Native Sun News said, “Freedom of the press is one of the most cherished of rights under the U. S. Constitution and the Oglala Sioux Tribe has always been fair and open with me as the publisher of the Lakota Times, Indian Country Today and now Native Sun News. We have at time published articles that were critical of the tribal government, but President John Yellow Bird Steele and his tribal councils have always respected our rights to freedom of the press and I believe the same freedom should be granted to the publisher and staff of the Rapid City Journal.”
(Contact Richie Richards at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Copyright permission Native Sun News