woundedkneecemetery
The Wounded Knee cemetery on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Photo: Jimmy Emerson
Publisher Tim Giago’s Fantasy Tale Of Victimization
Thursday, January 14, 2021

Apparently at a loss for subject matter to use in his most recent Notes From Indian Country column, Tim Giago chose to create a bizarre fantasy tale with conflicting facts, misinformation, distortions and omissions about myself and those I once worked with. All while painting himself as the victim in a scenario he created.

Think Donald Trump since he lost the election.

Explaining the purpose for his column as “constructive criticism” of the long-running radio talk show Native America Calling, Giago begins by noting that the producers invited “a white reporter” named Jim Kent on their show without checking his background. They allowed this reporter “to rant and rave” against Giago without offering him the opportunity to join the show in order to defend himself.

I’ve never been a guest on Native America Calling to talk about Giago.

I was, however, invited on the show by the late Harlan McKosato in 2003 to talk about S.D. Congressman Bill Janklow, who killed a motorcyclist after running a STOP sign at 75 mph. I’d written a few commentaries about the issue that appeared in Indian Country Today and regional newspapers.

So, Giago is misinformed and off by 14 years regarding my NAC appearance.

"Good-Bye, Summer" Kylie: "Well, there it goes, Pop." 😔 Jim: "No worries, sweetie – Fall is when we really come…

Posted by Jim Kent on Monday, September 7, 2020

What he is actually referring to in his commentary, since he needs some help here with his “facts”, are 3 stories I produced for National Native News that aired between December 2017 and March 2018. National Native News is a daily 5-minute radio show that’s heard across the country.

Why Giago’s delay in commenting? No idea.

The 3 NNN stories I produced came about when elders from the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre Descendants Society asked me to attend a meeting they were having on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The primary reason for their gathering was to discuss how to protect the Wounded Knee Massacre site from development by…Tim Giago.

The Oglala tribal member had been trying to raise money to buy land at the site to build a museum, a facility to sell Lakota arts and crafts, a trading post and a campground.

I attempted to contact Giago before the story was published in the Lakota Times newspaper or aired on National Native News…without success.

I did receive an e-mail from a nephew of his after-the-fact complaining about the story. The ”staff” of Giago’s Native Sun News weekly paper then wrote a critical commentary about me, likely in response to that first story and a column I wrote about the issue.

One-all, fair is fair, I thought. Write what you like about me, I write about the truth within issues. There were 2 follow-up stories to the original that focused on the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre Descendants Society’s efforts to legally protect the massacre site from development by Giago or anyone else. The group was being assisted by the area’s county commissioners.

Giago was referenced in the final story as the initial reason for the legal action being taken. It was that story on National Native News – not a guest appearance on Native America Calling – that Giago or someone on his staff apparently heard.

The following day I received a call from the host of NNN advising that she had received an e-mail from Giago. He was upset about being “continually picked on” by me, felt he had a right to give his side of the story and threatened to write a critical column about NNN and their “white” reporter. I guess that’s the column Giago just got around to writing.

NNN advised me that they gave Giago the chance to talk on the matter – the day after the story aired, not 2 or 3 weeks later as Giago notes in his column). He turned down that opportunity.

The following day I was advised by NNN management that they could no longer accept my story submissions as a result of Giago’s complaint and his threatened column.

I’d produced 998 stories for National Native News over 18 years and received only 1 complaint about my work – from Tim Giago.

His column goes on to criticize New Mexico-based National Native News host Antonia Gonzales for visiting South Dakota and failing to advise him of her presence or to stop by his newspaper. Gonzales did visit the Black Hills in 2017 for research on a radio documentary series she was producing, part of which included the Pine Ridge Reservation. Since I had a long freelance relationship with NNN, she asked me to assist. Apparently, Giago felt Gonzales should have checked in with him while she was here.

People who think the world revolves around them do tend to expect everyone else to share their belief.

The final fantasy in Giago’s column involves my being fired “from nearly every reporting job” I held in South Dakota. I’ve been a freelance writer with media entities across the country for 30+ years, so I don’t actually work “for” anyone; I submit stories or columns. You can’t be fired by someone you don’t work for.

The one situation where that statement might come close to being accurate, however, is in my relationship with NNN Radio, where my work was no longer accepted after a Lakota publisher who gets his facts confused complained about coverage that told the truth about his actions.

Obviously, the truth hurts if you’re Tim Giago.


Jim Kent is an award-winning freelance writer and radio producer who lives in Hot Springs, S.D.  His commentaries have appeared in Indian Country Today, the Lakota Times, the Rapid City Journal as well as regional and national publications across the country. He is the former editor of The New Lakota Times. His stories can be heard on National Public Radio and other national radio outlets. Jim can be reached at kentvfte@gwtc.net