Terese Marie Mailhot: Indian Country needs allies -- not saviors

Volunteers and children come together to learn and heal at a healing camp on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Photo by Cindy Giago

Writer Terese Marie Mailhot wonders why Indian voices are being ignored on critical issues like suicide among youth of the Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota:
Joe Flood writes in the New York Times article, 'What's Lurking Behind the Suicides,' that the issue of youth suicide is related to multi-generational sexual abuse that stems from abuse within Indian boarding schools. Flood goes onto say that the news media, and tribal members have not yet covered this issue with the overt comprehension that sexual abuse is linked to the tragedy of suicide among our youth. Needless to say, this is more than a journalistic oversight considering that Indian Country Today has encouraged Native voices and allies to cover this issue for years.

One would think a white man living on Pine Ridge, teaching on the reservation, would be savvy enough to see that the issue has been covered by the Indian media many times over for several years. What's disappointing is that many scholars, academics, and non-Natives have been sharing this article, while they have failed to acknowledge Indian voices lending their direct experience to the issue of youth suicide.

It's heartening to see people outside of our communities care about an issue that has plagued us, but I wonder why The New York Times gives more credence to a Non-Native than it would give to a voice who is either Native or has been a Native ally in the media for years.

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Terese Marie Mailhot: We Don't Need Saviors—We Need Allies (Indian Country Today 5/31)

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