Tribes struggle for a free press

  • Cover of book, "From the Front Lines: Free Press Struggles in Native America"

  -On the banner of our paper it says, "The newspaper of the Navajo people." We're here first and foremost for them. Not for the government; not for the politicians; not for one single person or viewpoint."

* Tom Arviso Jr., editor of the Navajo Times, in From the Front Lines; Free Press Struggles in Native America

In Indian Country, newspapers are almost always owned by the very government that makes the headlines - an uneasy relationship at best. Tribal councils hold the purse strings to newspaper budgets, and politicians have been known to routinely read the paper before it goes to press. A new 34-page booklet published by the Native American Journalists Association includes five personal narratives that chronicle the day-to-day struggles editors face. The essays, by Tom Arviso; Dan Agent, former editor of the Cherokee Advocate; Keith Skenandore, of Kalihwisaks, the newspaper of the Oneida Tribe in Wisconsin; Lori Edmo-Suppah, former editor of the Sho-Ban News at Fort Hall, Idaho; and Paul DeMain, former editor of the Lac Courte Oreilles Journal in Wisconsin, tell what led to the writer's dismissal or how they've persevered. "My real dream," writes Arviso, who still has his job, "is to see the Navajo Times become the true voice of the Navajo people."

*Dustin Solberg