Making a difference in Indian Country

A jam packed, economy themed weekend edition of Indian Country Today is ready to watch.
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IndiJ Public Media President Karen Lincoln-Michel joins us to talk about the legacy of Indian Country Today and it's future. And joining us for another pandemic perspective is doctor Mary Owen. Plus Oglala Lakota College turns 50! Telling us the difference this has made for the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota is its President Thomas Shortbull. Also Native journalist Natasha Brennan has more about the Rincon band's economic development in southern California.

A slice of our Indigenous world

  • The U.S. Justice Department is finalizing its first plan to address the issue of missing and murdered Native people in Montana. 
  • Blood tribal citizens are still without electricity after a 15 thousand acre grassfire forced them to evacuate. 
  • The digital news website She the People dot org, is celebrating women by looking to the future. 
  • Colorado lawmakers are considering a proposal that would ban Native American mascots in public schools and colleges. 
  • The digital news website She the People dot org, is celebrating women by looking to the future. 
  • Montana State University in Bozeman, is receiving national recognition for its American Indigenous Business Leaders chapter.

Find more details on these stories at the top of today's newscast.

Karen Lincoln-Michel, Ho-Chunk

Karen Lincoln-Michel, Ho-Chunk

We joke around here that Indian Country Today is a 40-year-old start. And in many ways it’s true. Our legacy began as the Lakota Times on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota by Tim Giago. A name change later, the paper was owned by the Oneida Nation in New York, then the National Congress of the American Indians. And as of March 26, we are a new corporation, IndiJ Public Media. One of the new owners of Indian Country Today is our President, Karen Lincoln-Michel.

Karen Lincoln-Michel:

"We've been working toward this day for quite a while. And so some of the biggest changes are that we want to expand more into broadcasting. As you said, we've had a long history as a newspaper and then a magazine, digital site, and then now we're expanding into broadcasting. So we been at this for nearly a year now. And so I think we're going to be focusing on trying to get more stations to pick us up."

"Not only that I think we haven't really marketed ourselves that well. And so we're going to be concentrating on that. Recently we did a social media audit to try to find out more about our audiences. We did the same with our email subscribers list. And so we are trying to find out more about each one of our segments of our audience to try to give them more of what they want, more like customized content and to be in touch with them more."

Mary Owen, Tlingit

Mary Owen, Tlingit

Doctor Mary Owen warns us to remain vigilant. We’re not out of the pandemic woods yet. Keep your distance, wear a mask and wash your hands. She’s Tlingit and a graduate of the University of Minnesota Medical School. She returned home to Juneau, Alaska to practice medicine. But in 2014 she was named Director of the Center of American Indian and Minority Health in Duluth, Minnesota.

Mary Owen:

"I'm going to get this name wrong, but the Urban Indian Health Institute out of Seattle did that nice study of a thousand Native people throughout the country and saw that 75% of our Native community was planning on getting it. And 75% of them or three-fourths of them were going to get it because they knew that it helped our community. So I think if we can convey that same message about the flu vaccine, because it does, it protects people in our community, the same way that this vaccine does for COVID."

"Then we're going to be on spot and probably increase our rates. And a lot of us are recognizing the association, American Indian physicians just received a grant to do just that. As soon as we get done, helping people convince people about the importance of the COVID vaccine, we're also going to be working on the flu vaccine. So you bring up a really good point, but I think our community is ready for it. We just need to get the message to them."

Thomas Shortbull, Oglala Lakota

Thomas Shortbull, Oglala Lakota

Oglala Lakota College, which turns 50 this year, is based in Kyle, South Dakota. In 1971 the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council created the Lakota Higher Education Center. Joining us today is Thomas Shortbull, who is Oglala Lakota. He'll be joining us to talk more about the school's history and why it is unique from other tribal colleges. Shortbull has been president since December 1994 and from 1975-79. From 1982 to 1986, he represented the Rosebud and Pine Ridge Reservations in the South Dakota State Senate.

Thomas Shortbull:

"I think we have to go back to the founding of the college that took place in 1971. And we owe a lot of who we are today to Gerald One Feather, this was basically his idea. Diné College was created two years earlier, but the way we developed is unique among all of the tribal colleges, because our founders wanted to establish degrees so that our people on our reservation would get employment in the professional jobs that existed on the reservation."

"But we went one step further than most tribal colleges in that we require all of our students to take 15 hours in Lakota studies, language, culture, treaties, history. The people from SDSU had a meeting with our students. And so they asked the students, they said you know it's going to take you at least five to five and a half years versus four years for most students to get your bachelor's degree. And that's because you're taking these 15 hours in Lakota studies. Do you think that's worth it? And he said, absolutely it's worth it because we need to know who we are as Indian people. And that's 15 hours does give that to us. And so they think our students think that that's critically important to their development, that they know who they are as Indian people."

Natasha Brennan, Cahuilla

Natasha Brennan, Cahuilla

Natasha Brennan, Cahuilla, is a journalist and photographer located in Los Angeles County. She covers homelessness, mental health care and Native American issues in Southern California.  
Economic development for the Rincon band in southern California has taken an unexpected turn. Brennan joins the show to give us more details on the southern California tribe that is getting into a variety of enterprises, including craft beer.

Natasha Brennan:

"The Rincon Reservation Road Brewery, which is located in San Diego and Southern California, they're brewing their own beer. The hops are grown on their own land, with their own aquifers, by their own farmers. They bring in all sorts of flavors and they all have different names based off of their, their own tribe's history, like the Tupaash ale, which is the Luiseño word for sky, and they have Rez Dog."

"But this past fall, they came back with a vengeance and they're starting to have really great sales. They opened a tasting room. They're gonna reopen a new tasting room later this summer. They have deals with Costco, local casinos, and are bringing their culture to the San Diego area with brew. And as many know the San Diego area is one of the capitals for craft brewery in the world. So they're really out there competing and doing great."

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

Patty Talahongva, Hopi, is executive producer of Indian Country Today. Follow her on Twitter: @WiteSpider

Karen Lincoln-Michel, Ho-Chunk, is president of Indian Country Today. Follow her on Twitter: @karenmichel

Shirley Sneve, Sicangu Lakota, is a producer/writer for Indian Country Today. Follow her on Twitter @rosebudshirley She’s based in Nebraska and Minnesota.

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