"The lawyers representing the Miccosukee Tribe used strong language in criticizing The Miami's Herald's coverage of a car crash involving tribal members in which a Kendall woman died.
The stories were ''unfairly slanted,'' ''biased'' and ''assumed from the outset that a Miccosukee Indian was at fault,'' attorneys Mike and Lewis Tein and Guy Lewis of Coral Gables wrote in a letter to the editor.
''Prejudging Indian people today is as objectionable as it was 300 years ago,'' they said. They added that the articles were responsible for attracting ''ugly and racist comments'' that were posted on the Web.
The offending comments are no longer on the Miami Herald website, so I cannot say anything about them. But I have reviewed all the stories and wonder if the attorneys aren't grandstanding for their clients and readers. With some minor exceptions, I found the stories fair and responsible. What was missing was information that tribal police and the tribe itself refused to make available.
Writing about the Miccosukee and other Indian tribes is often complicated and sensitive. Some of that is because of laws and treaties, which grew out of the nation's conquest, that accord them certain special rights. Some of it is because of a parallel history of exploitation and racism against Native Americans. A resulting distrust by many Indians is behind some, but only some, of the problems surrounding the car crash."
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Ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos: Miccosukee claims of bias in fatal accident stories don't hold up
(The Miami Herald 4/12)