A simmering caldron of confrontation between the University of Arizona’s American Indian Studies (AIS) program and Red Ink magazine—since 1989, believed to be one of the only student-run Native American magazines in the country—has finally boiled over.
“The relationship between the American Indian Studies Department and Red Ink just couldn’t be mended,” said third-term managing editor Joseph A. Quintana, Santo Domingo Pueblo. “There was a disconnect, a ‘them-versus-us,’ and you could feel it. We tried hard to remain with the department, but they seemed to have made up their minds and further talks would have been futile, so in the end we reached an agreement to part ways and sever ties.”
The partnership had lasted for nearly 20 years until Ronald Trosper was named head of AIS last July and a month later served Red Ink an eviction notice with no specific reasons given albeit a subtle hint of “a history of problems.”
In August 2011 Quintana said, “we were not included in any discussion as to Red Ink’s fate.” Trosper, in an October 2011 interview with Indian Country Today Media Network, said he was “surprised they were surprised.” Repeated efforts by ICTMN to obtain a comment from AIS on the recent severance decision were unsuccessful.
Dialogue and debate between the two sides apparently ensued until a June 20th Red Ink posting on Facebook advised that “on June 31” it would be “severing the relationship in the best interest of the publication” and that “both parties were in agreement.”
“The department will make a statement acknowledging the importance of the publication to Indian country,” said Quintana as he announced Red Ink would stay on campus under a new department, the Native American Research and Training Center. “The move will provide greater stability and access to resources and while I’m not sure this will be a permanent home, we’re excited and optimistic this could lead to a beneficial future for the publication.”
Just as the past is prologue to the future and life moves on, Quintana says the latest issue of the magazine is “coming together beautifully” and should premiere in August, showcasing storytellers and the power of story as well as the Native film California Indian and other features that will “convey knowledge and help guide us in our lives.”
With a new home located and a new staff to be formally introduced in the near future, Red Ink’s managing editor says: “We are grateful to all our past staff, editors, and mentors who have lent their support in some way. We have sought advice and been guided by many people and, while we are thankful for the American Indian Studies support over the years, we feel we are moving on in the best way possible (to continue being) a publication with impact and a catalyst to showcasing the best of what is coming out of Indian Country.”