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September 29, 2006

Race War at (Not so?) Indian Country Today

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The mud is slinging! Ever since George Joe, publisher of Rez Biz Magazine, posted news that Indian Country Today fired longtime non-Indian reporter Brenda Norrell, our inbox has been brimming with activity.

Not since Oprah came to the Navajo Nation to powwow has something so inconsequential garnered all this attention. But this is In The Hoop and we love good gossip! Plus we've got nothing else to do.

First came the email from Ray Cook, a Mohawk who works for the Oneida Nation, the tribe that owns ICT. "Shame on you," he tells Norrell, for calling into question the alleged whiteness of "The Nations' Leading Native American Indian News Source."

Mohawk writes:
Your position was terminated, suck it up and go find another job. You are not special, everyday people lose there jobs, they press on, if they are talented they find work elsewhere where their talents are appreciated. Why do you think you are different?

It was good visiting you when I had the opportunity and you did good work most of the time, other times, your reporting was way too biased to even be called news journalism, it often times bordered on propaganda.

. . .

And, by the way, what white editors? Jose? Tim Johnson? John Mohawk? Suzan Harjo, have you lost your mind?

[We don't really care but wasn't Jose Barreiro born in Cuba? Not to say there aren't indigenous people in the Caribbean, but he's not American Indian -- which was sort of Norrell's point. "That was the beginning for me of identifying with American Indian life in North America," Barreiro writes in his own novel. And Suzan Shown Harjo is a columnist, right? (And the only thing worth reading in the paper, by the way.)]

Not to be outdone, Norrell responded to Cook's harsh tirade with a note of her own. But she doesn't seem insulted at all. In fact, she sounds downright nice in an email that arrived less than half an hour after Cook's.

She writes:
It states in my e-mail, that I wrote to my friends, that the non-Indians were: "Managing editors."

The three managing editors since 2004, who were acutally in the office, choosing news page content and putting out the newspaper. These were my bosses and managing editors: Kerri Lis Lucinda Rowlands current one: Gina Mushynsky

This was kept secret, it seems.
Those names don't sound like Jose, Tim or John to us!

But Norrell's not done! She has some wisdom to share.
Thank you for taking the time to write. ... I've learned many things from great Indian people, including grace. In the end, only kindness matters.

Anxiously awaiting the next message...



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