Tim Giago
Tim Giago. Photo courtesy Native Sun News Today
Notes from Indian Country
It has been a long and bumpy road
Monday, October 18, 2021

It has taken me 87 years to travel that bumpy road called life. I think I may have a few miles left to travel.

I was born in the Indian Health Service Hospital on the Pine Ridge Reservation, but as soon as I was able to leave that hospital I went to my home at Wounded Knee. My Dad Tim was a butcher and a clerk at the Wounded Knee Trading Post for nearly 15 years.

I recall having lunch a couple of years ago with my friend Leonard Little Finger, now deceased. Leonard asked me, “Tim, you write about it sometimes, but what is your interest in Wounded Knee.” I told him that it was my hometown when I was boy. He nodded his head and said, “I didn’t know that, but it explains a lot of things.”

The Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam
A page from an illustrated version of The Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam. Photo: Oliver Hammond

One of my favorite quotes is from a poem about life. The line originates in English in Edward Fitzgerald’s translation of the poem The Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam and it was written in 1859. It goes:

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,

Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit

shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,

nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

To me it is pretty self-explanatory. In 87 years one can do a lot of things, both good and bad. You can hope that you did more good than bad, but that is a matter of opinion. The thing that bothers me the most about some of my shortcomings in life is that I did not spend the time with my children when they were growing up and needed me the most. I have made every effort to make up for that terrible mistake for the past 30 years and I have come to the conclusion that my children still love me.

Because they had such great mothers in their lives they are all doing well.

Personally, I have survived the Great Depression, I survived the boarding school, I survived World War II, I survived the Korean War, and I survived starting my own business, a weekly newspaper, 41 years ago.

I survived working in the sugar beet fields of Colorado and the cotton fields in New Mexico when I was just a teenager. I got into the newspaper business because two friends, Rupert Costo, a Cahuilla Indian from Southern California, and his wife Jeanette Henry Costo, am Eastern Cherokee, took a chance on me and put me to work at their monthly newspaper Wassaja in the 1970s.

Rupert, a graduate of the University of Nevada, encouraged me to change my course to journalism while I was attending the University of Nevada. And when I finished school he was kind enough to give me a job and serve as my mentor.

I started my first newspaper, The Lakota Times, in 1981. The Lakota Times hit the streets of the Pine Ridge Reservation on July 9, 1981. I changed the name of the paper to Indian Country Today in 1989 and both newspapers are still publishing after 40 years. They are under different ownership, but still publishing.

I am just doing a little reminiscing after traveling these 87 years on a bumpy road. And the Moving Finger is still writing and I will try to make the remaining miles of the trip good and productive years. And I offer a fervent forgive me to anyone I may have offended over those years.

They say there is always a good book in all of us and I hope to finish my book before I reach the end of that long road and pray that it is a good book.


Contact Tim Giago at najournalist1@gmail.com