Remember 2019? Because those memories are so important now

From the chapter, "Stories We Love." An eagle feather? When representation of a Native Nation gets in the way of graduation. (Illustration by Tomás Karmelo Amaya, Indian Country Today)

Mark Trahant

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

Mark Trahant

Indian Country Today

Remember 2019? That year seems like so long ago now. Yet it was a remarkable year (in its own way).

Stories about people. About policy. Or treaties. Ideas that challenged Indigenous communities. Or memories of what made us stronger.

Indian Country Today is publishing a look back at 2019. It’s a window into the time before the pandemic. And a useful textbook to students studying at home.

“This compilation of stories from 2019 shows the range and depth that Indian Country Today offers its readers,” said Indian Country Today President Karen Lincoln Michel. “From in-depth looks at gripping issues to insightful features on sports and entertainment, ‘Indian Country Today 2019’ captures Indigenous life like no other news outlet, ever. It’s a must-read for anyone who wants to learn about contemporary issues facing tribal nations and Indigenous people.”

Michel should know. She copy edited all of the work produced by ICT journalists during that year. (We would have had this book ready for sale a lot sooner, but like everything, the pandemic messed with our minds and schedules.) Hat tip! It was a lot of words (and a mad rush for images.)

Most of these stories you can find online (and for free). But we wanted to publish this for two reasons. First, it’s always handy to have a reference guide. Second, we often hear from readers asking for a print product. We never could quite figure out how, until now.

So many good stories. One of my favorite’s is by Suzan Harjo about Cornplanter’s pipe. She wrote: A gift from George Washington most likely in 1792. “It was a part of an elaborate exchange of medals, pipes, wampum and other tangible symbols of amity between the Haudenosaunee and the U.S. An integral part of Treaty making and diplomacy, gifts were vital signs of heroic labor to achieve and maintain peaceful relations.”

And stories about sports (including, “Change the damn name!”) such as how a bull riding contest builds on the idea of tribes as nations. “Since the Global Cup is all about the home country defending its soil from foreign lands and “given the sovereignty of Natives in the U.S.,” PBR chief executive Sean Gleason said it only seemed fitting to have a Native team.

If you want an antidote to the challenges of 2020, read about the wonderful people whose voices carried us through 2019. Joy Harjo as the first Native American to be the U.S. Poet Laureate. Or LaDonna Harris. Juanita Ahtone. Sidney Freeland. Aaron Yazzie. Kim Teehee. And so many others. Reading their stories affirms how much talent we see every day.

The cover is from the reunion at Alcatraz. “Eight-year-old Alan Harrison was sound asleep on Nov. 20, 1969, when he was roused from bed at 2 in the morning by his mother,” wrote Nannette Deetz. “She told me that we were going camping. I loved camping, so we grabbed our sleeping bags, fishing poles and were really happy about it,” Harrison said. “We got on a boat that left from Sausalito. When we arrived, my mom took us to the warden’s office because it was the only room that was carpeted, and she didn’t want us sleeping on the concrete.”

Harrison was one of the first children brought to Alcatraz during the occupation. His mother, Luwana Quitiquit, was from the Pomo and Moduc tribes at Robinson Rancheria, Clearlake, California. Now 58, he can still remember the reaction of the officials who met the original occupiers once they landed.

Memories.

Then, those memories from 50 years ago are still familiar because of Standing Rock. It’s a story we should tell again and again.

Then there are many that fit that bill.

Indian Country Today 2019: A Compilation of Stories is available on Amazon and Kindle. 

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