Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

December 5, 2014

Failure of Indian country news is crime against humanity

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

It should be considered a crime against humanity for salaried reporters, supposedly covering national Indian news, to stay home and plagiarize instead of being present in DC. 

Those reporters are failing as watchdogs to prevent the theft of Indian water rights, and Indian land rights. Real reporters in Indian country could do a great deal to protect land and water rights for future generations. However, by deceiving readers, engaging in plagiarism, and focusing on fluff, they have no moral ground to stand on. These 'reporters' can only be viewed as violators of the ethics of journalism.

While Native American tribal leaders were engaged in photo ops, public relations spin and opulence at the Tribal Leaders Conference in DC this week, Congress was attempting to steal Apache land rights and Paiute water rights. Sen. McCain is pushing the legislation to steal Apache land rights for copper mining. Efforts are underway in Congress to steal Paiute water rights to Pyramid Lake. 

These are only two examples of what is going on in Congress, and much more is happening behind closed doors. A leaked document exposed former Interior Sec. Ken Salazar, and former Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, attempting to steal Navajo water rights. Grassroots Dine' (Navajos) halted the water rights theft and Salazar left office.

Don't expect Indian Country Today reporters to do the job. Don't expect those reporters to bend to the pressure and leave their homes in order to be present and cover the news. 

While I was a staff reporter at Indian Country Today, the editors censored issues because of the agendas of the owners and editors. Because of the pressure by politicians and the political agendas, both locally and nationally, issues were censored. There was also control by the gambling and casino industry. The censored issues included gambling addiction and non-Indians profiteering from Indian casinos. 

Bahe Katenay of Big Mountain was censored by Indian Country Today when he described the destruction of Dine' sacred places by the oil and gas industry. Louise Benally of Big Mountain was censored when she compared the forced Longest Walk to the US war in Iraq. 

Buffy Sainte Marie was even censored by Indian Country Today editors when she described how her anti-war stance led to US presidents putting her out of the music business. Lenny Foster, Dine', was censored when he described how Leonard Peltier's religious freedom rights were violated in prison.

Also censored was the fact that Raytheon Missiles has a factory on the Navajos' commercial farm, Navajo Agricultural Products Industry near Farmington, N.M. NAPI, which grows corn and other crops for commercial sale, also used the genetically modified seeds of Monsanto, affecting traditional Navajo crops in the area. The ICT editor told me, in writing, that I was forbidden to even research Raytheon Missiles and Monsanto on NAPI. 

When the Denver Post exposed the fact that Sen. Ben 'Nighthorse' Campbell was Portuguese, and not Northern Cheyenne as he claimed, ICT refused to publish the facts. The two editors responsible for the censorship at Indian Country Today then left the newspaper and went to work for the National Museum of American Indians, and the Smithsonian, which Campbell had been raising funds for. 

San Carlos Apache were also censored, which brings us to today. Many of those censored defending Apache sacred land from the massive telescopes of the University of Arizona in Tucson and the Pope, have passed to the Spirit World. San Carlos Apaches continue to fight for their land today as Sen. John McCain and his corrupt circle target the theft of Apache land for copper mining. 

Today, Indian Country Today owners are extremely wealthy and can afford to have reporters present on news stories, instead of sitting at home and plagiarizing from the web, or focusing on distractions and fluff. Still, it has proven unrealistic to expect ICT to carry out authentic journalism. It has created a void and today there are no reporters present in Washington to expose the bottom line and report the truth.

Future generations depend on the creation of new Indian country media to be clear and present, and to report news with accuracy as it is happening. Future generations will suffer if the watchdogs of journalism fail and continue to violate the ethics of journalism.

Brenda Norrell has been a reporter in Indian country for 32 years, beginning with the Navajo Times during the 18 years that she lived on the Navajo Nation. After serving as a longtime staff reporter for Indian Country Today, she was first censored then terminated. As a result, she created Censored News, now in its ninth year. There are no salaries, grants or advertising at Censored News. Censored News is a whistleblower site for the media, human rights issues and Indigenous Peoples news.

Read some of the news articles by Brenda Norrell which were censored by Indian Country Today 2004 -- 2006: 

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