Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Condition. Discussion »
This past Saturday I went to a birthday party for the mother of a good friend, Paul Collins, who spent many months during the 1970s on reservations in South Dakota, which resulted in a series called, "Other Voices - A Native American Tableau."
His mother turned 100 years old this month. This is a milestone that is quite remarkable. In the park pavilion, we actually had the opportunity to view a video filled with photos of Collins' mother from decades and the best news was the guest of honor was there to enjoy a review of her life. These days we usually see a video of a deceased at a funeral home and the guest of honor has gone on to the spirit world. One nice milestone.
While enjoying the party, another friend, a film maker, who came in from Kansas City to celebrate the centurion's birthday party asked me what Indians really want non-Indians to know about us.
I immediately told him that is a loaded question. We both shared a laugh because he knew it was. He persisted: "I am serious. What do Indians want us (non-Indians) to know about you?"
"That we are still here!" I replied. "It is easier if you live in a heavily populated area - say a Window Rock, but when you live in an urban setting, we become invisible kind of the forgotten minority."
Obviously, there are many other things American Indians want non-Indians to know about who we are.
Reporting from the
Rosebud Indian Reservation
That brings me to my other milestone: a six month checkup. This past week the Native News Network turned six months old. We began publishing online on February 14, 2011.
In my travels, people everywhere swear up and down we they have known about the Native News Network for years. I have to convince people that we were brand new as recent as Valentine's Day, which was strictly a coincidence, because, even though we had been planning the Native News Network for the past couple of years, we decided to launch it on the same day the Longest Walk 3 - Reversing Diabetes began in LaJolla, California, just outside of San Diego.
The Longest Walk 3 allowed me to travel a total of 32 days - at different intervals - within several states and on some 22 different American Indian reservations, including spending time with the American Indian communities in Chicago and Washington DC.
This strategy has given the Native News Network exposure that would not occurred had I stayed home in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which has a American Indian population of less than one percent of the total population - one poignant example of an invisible people.
During the past six months, the response to the Native News Network has been tremendous. We hear from people from all over the United States, Canada and other parts of the world. We have some 430 likes on our Facebook account and rising everyday.
I tell people all the time our mission statement is: "To improve the lives of American Indians." It really is that simple, but not really.
So at six months, I want you to know the Native News Network strives to provide timely and accurate information about American Indians. We publish at least five stories per day every day, except Sunday.
We strive to maintain balance between news releases from tribal nations and government. In this complex world of co-existence, it is paramount tribal nations interface effectively with the state and federal governments, while still maintaining the sovereignty of who we are.
The Native News Network strives to maintain balance between current news, announcements, health-related stories, and entertainment.
We strive to report the difficult stories, such as the horrendous high rates of suicides in some American Indian communities and the despicable rates of domestic abuse of American Indian and Alaska Native women. These are the hardest stories to write. They are not fun, but they must be told.
The success of an online news publication is measured by unique hits, pages read and length of time, readers stay at a website.
At six months, we reflect back, but with a checkup we need to know how we can improve.
Your continued readership is valued, as we strive to let others know we - American Indians - are indeed still here.
posted August 17, 2011 7:30 am edt
We need to know how we can improve. Tell us how we are doing.
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