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Journalism in the time of COVID

Managing editor of Indian Country Today Jourdan Bennette-Begaye and executive producer of our broadcast Patty Talahongva join the show to revisit our response during the beginning of the pandemic. Plus national correspondent Mary Annette Pember brings us more on the water protectors and their work to stop pipelines.

One year ago our team at Indian Country Today had just eight journalists on board when the coronavirus hit the U.S. Joining us today to talk about that wild week is Jourdan Bennette-Begaye, who is Diné, our managing editor and Patty Talahongva, who is Hopi, our executive producer.

And national correspondent Mary Annette Pember, who is Ojibwe, has the latest on efforts of water protectors in their fight against pipelines.

A slice of our Indigenous world

  • It’s women’s history month and two women of color are making history with the public swearing in ceremony of a cabinet member. 
  • Wednesday marked the one year anniversary since the first confirmed case on the Navajo reservation.
  • Any resident of Oklahoma can now get the COVID-19 vaccine, thanks to tribes in the state.
  • A member of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba was asked to leave the legislative chamber. 

You can find more details on these stories at the top of today's newscast.

Some quotes from today's show.

Jourdan Bennette-Begaye:

"That is right. I remember around the beginning of March was when the first case hit Umatilla. And then all of a sudden we were scanning across Indian Country, seeing what tribes had any cases. And Navajo was the one where I think took my intention because it's, it's home, it's large. People are very community oriented. They're always having community events."

"And I think that was the moment when, at least it hit for me. Because you had one case and it just, all of a sudden within I think five days, it kind of went from one case to approximately 20 something cases and my family's home. And so I knew this is something bigger and it was something very unexpected for all of us. " 

Patty Talahongva:

"That's the role of journalists, right? You go to the danger and you report on what's happening. I just remember this time last year in the days, leading up to St. Patrick's day and watching all of these industries shut down. We saw the final four shut down, and then we heard the cruise ship industry was shutting down. And then I think my moment of like OMG, was when Disneyland announced it was closing."

"And so immediately I thought, okay that's a huge area where people gather and have fun is a big entertainment area. So what does that mean for tribal casinos? And so I started working on the story about tribal casinos that were still operating and I called several of them check to see what they were doing. And at that, in those early days, all they were doing was putting out hand sanitizer and and wiping down the machines." 

Mary Annette Pember:

"I've been writing about Enbridge's mainline system. They are putting in a new line, Line 3 in northern Minnesota that will carry tar sands oil. It's a larger circumference line. And many people are opposed to that. Some people are in favor, but many Native people in particular are opposed because they're concerned about the impact of a potential spill on the land and the impact on wild rice and on the environment in general."

"So I was recently up in northern Minnesota, near Grand Rapids where some other, the water protectors were onsite commemorating a spill that happened, I don't know what the line was called at that time. It was back in 1990, 30 years ago, also owned by Enbridge. It was a different name at that time, but it was the largest inland pipeline spill ever. And I guess still to this day and spilled in a little river that flows into the Mississippi and that rivers called the LA Prairie river. So folks were onsite to commemorate that."

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Mark Trahant, Shoshone-Bannock, is editor of Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @TrahantReports Trahant is based in Phoenix.

Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, Diné, is the managing editor for Indian Country Today based in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter: @jourdanbb or email her at Bennett-Begaye’s Grey’s Anatomy obsession started while attending the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

Patty Talahongva, Hopi, is executive producer of Indian Country Today. She is also the anchor of the weekday newscast. Follow her on Twitter: @WiteSpider

Mary Annette Pember, citizen of the Red Cliff Ojibwe tribe, is national correspondent for Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @mapember. Based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Pember loves film, books and jingle dress dancing.

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