Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

October 10, 2012

Protest Rapid City Journal censorship of Native American issues

Protest Rapid City Journal censorship of Native American issues and fees to publish commentaries

Oct 14, 2012: Update KOAT TV Protest of Rapid City Journal editorial policies

By Occupy Rapid City and
South Dakota Peace and Justice, Rapid City Chapter
Posted at Censored News

A protest of Rapid City Journal’s policy decisions is being organized for Saturday, October 13, 2012. The protest issues include the Rapid City Journal's:

□ rejection of articles and letters to the editor relating to historical and ongoing Native America issues (see background below)

□ decision to charge a fee to publish political letters to the editor resulting in suppression of political speech through this, ultimately, discriminatory practice (

The protest will meet at the Seattle’s Best meeting room at the Alex Johnson at 11 AM and then march to the Rapid City Journal Building for a one-hour demonstration.


Jim Kent, a thoughtful and frequent columnist for the Journal recently had an important column rejected which addressed the topic of Indian boarding schools. This is a subject that the community is very interested in addressing as demonstrated by the recent, sold-out showing of a documentary on that topic by the Heartland Film Series.

Jim Kent Sept. 28, 2012 message to column readers:

Though many of you have offered comments on the variety of topics I tend to address, one area that I regularly cover is issues dealing with Indian Country. And though we might not all agree on that particular area of discussion – as on other topics, my primary purpose for writing a column is to open the floor for offering different views on any issue.

That said, the Rapid City Journal refused to publish my weekly column on 9/27/12 re: Native American boarding schools – which came about as a result of a discussion I had recently on the award-winning film "The Thick Dark Fog" (shown in Rapid City on 9/24).

In correspondence advising me of its refusal to publish the commentary, the RCJ editorial board noted that the boarding school issue –though painful – took place decades ago, questioned references to genocidal federal practices prior to the 19th century as well as their use at boarding schools, questioned references to Gen. Philip Sheridan, and stated that publishing the column “would further divide Native Americans and whites without justification.”

The editorial board – via editorial page editor Randy Rasmussen - also wondered why I didn’t write about the film if the column was supposed to be about the film; which is odd since the film is about....the boarding school issue. As I noted to the board, the column was about the very topic that the film explored. A topic, apparently, that the Rapid City Journal editorial board feels shouldn’t be explored.

Excerpt from Madville Times posting October 1, 2012:

The Rapid City Journal cans one columnist for publicly criticizing the paper's decision to lock its content behind a paywall. Now it stifles discussion of a crucial part of white-Native history. That suppression of unpleasant views doesn't seem the best way to celebrate the impending National Newspaper Week.

Next up: we'll see if the Rapid City Journal and the rest of South Dakota's white media find it too "divisive" to discuss this alleged instance of anti-Native hate speech at South Dakota State University.

Jim Kent October 9, 2012 comment on the central issues of concern relative to Rapid City Journal policies:

. . . the refusal to publish this column, dismissing an ongoing cultural issue for Native Americans and, ultimately, controlling what’s “permitted” to be discussed within a community.

Excerpt from Lee Enterprises Incorporated Principles for Quality Journalism:

Focus on understanding and serving the needs and wants of the people in its community, including those who are most vulnerable, such as the poor, minorities or elderly.

Identify and aggressively cover the most important issues to the local community.

Play a leadership role and be a force for change in the community through coverage, editorials and civic involvement.

Show courage and independence in faithfully reporting both good and bad news.

Inform, educate, explore solutions and give readers information on how they can take action or get involved when appropriate.

Encourage and involve the community in journalistic efforts, including promoting public contact with staff members, editors and the publisher.

Provide a regular opinion page with local editorials, plus local and national content reflecting a wide variety of views.


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