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Opinion
Harjo: Anderson harassed Indian reporter over BIA death


"[Indian reporter for The Oregonian, Kara] Briggs tried to interview the newly installed head of the BIA, Interior Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Dave Anderson, but was denied access by his BIA press flak. When Anderson traveled to Chemawa a few months after Sohappy died, Briggs didn�t think that he would say the paper had done a good job or compliment her as the Indian reporter at the helm, but she did expect him to answer her questions.

Instead, Briggs said she had to endure the 'harassment (of) Anderson telling me I was �culturally inappropriate� for asking him questions about the case.'

Briggs ought to be recognized by the Native American Journalists Association with the Richard LaCourse investigative reporting award, because the series is solid and the honor well deserved. NAJA also should give her the award to send a signal to Anderson and other BIA officials that they cannot treat Native reporters or Native women in that manner.

[Cindy] Sohappy never got the chance to be a woman or to have a profession or a family. Briggs was trying to report on why and how that happened under the care and responsibility of the federal government. Along the way, she brought about changes in BIA policy that may save other young Native women in federal boarding schools from Sohappy�s fate."

Get the Story:
Suzan Shown Harjo: A Native child left behind (Indian Country Today 7/2)

Oregonian Special Series:
Warm Springs - A Place Where Children Die

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Anderson won't comment on BIA student's death (03/19)
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Videotape captured teen's death at boarding school (3/1)
IHS holding back information on boarding school death (02/09)
Drinking said rampant at BIA boarding school in Ore. (01/22)
Autopsy: BIA student died of alcohol poisoning (1/16)
Oregonian: Alcohol, drugs and abuse destroy family (01/07)
Terry Cross: U.S. has failed Indian children (12/15)
Warm Springs teen dies at BIA boarding school (12/12)