Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

August 28, 2022

Where the Desert Meets the Sea: Termination as a Reporter and a New Beginning

Photo: Comcaac (Seri) fishing boats on the Pacific coast, with the sacred island mountain in the distance. Photo by Brenda Norrell.

Where the Desert Meets the Sea: Termination as a Reporter and a New Beginning

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

We're winding up our 16th year at Censored News. It wasn't planned. It began with a simple website, showing what was censored by Indian Country Today before editors fired me in 2006. There were the censored words of Buffy Sainte Marie, Louise Benally of Big Mountain, and many more.

The telephone call, firing me as a longtime ICT staff reporter, came just hours before the border summit began. A large delegation of Mohawk Warriors had just arrived in Tucson from the north and I was on my way over to San Xavier to cover it. Mohawks joined Tohono O'odham and those who live on the border.

Mohawks chased the border patrol south of Sells on the Tohono O'odham Nation and hoped to free the tiny Guatemalan women and children who had been captured and thrown in the back of the patrol truck on O'odham land.

Mohawks saw the first of the spy towers. And they saw the outdoor cage where migrants were imprisoned. Lenny Foster, Dineh, said it was nothing more than a dog cage. A cyclone fence and concrete. The year was 2006.

I didn't intend to keep Censored News going as a blog or news site. But many Native writers and activists ask that I publish and circulate their words. So we continued, as a cooperative, with no ads, grants, salaries, or revenues for 16 years.

Among those great moments was when Marcos and the Zapatistas came to visit us all, just south of the Arizona border, more than once. And our stays in Vicam, with the fierce Yoeme (Yaqui) Warriors of the Vicam Traditional Authority who blockaded the highway for years to defend their water.

Our friend, Yaqui Spokesman Tomas Rojo was brutally assassinated, beaten to death, and buried in the desert. Others were assassinated and disappeared in Sonora, just south of the Arizona border, in a land where cartels and the state and federal government, and the military, attempt to dominate in their killing fields.

It is a beautiful land where the desert meets the sea, and the survivors of the long stretch of genocide are the Comcaac (Seri) fishermen on the coast who always welcomed us. Today,

I'll be posting some words I've found in the files, which inspire me after all these years, and hope they will inspire you as well.

Best to each of you, Brenda Norrell, Censored News. 

About the publisher

Brenda Norrell has been a news reporter in Indian country for 40 years, beginning as a reporter at Navajo Times during the 18 years that she lived on the Navajo Nation. She was a correspondent for Associated Press and USA Today. After serving as a longtime staff reporter for Indian Country Today, she was censored and fired in 2006. She created Censored News. With 22 million page views, Censored News is a collective, with no ads, grants, salaries or revenues. Norrell has a master's degree in international health, focused on water, nutrition and infectious diseases.

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