Editorial: Newspaper association does not want to talk about race

The following is the opinion of the Native Sun News Editorial Board. All content © Native Sun News.

The South Dakota Newspaper Association met with the North Dakota Newspaper Association for a joint convention last month. Photo from Facebook

SDNA must use its power to address racial relations in SD
By Native Sun News Editorial Board

Many newspaper editors in South Dakota and North Dakota sort of shrink back into themselves when it comes to discussing the race relations between Indians and whites in their respective states. The newspaper associations are no different.

The problem lies there like an open wound that the news media is afraid to examine. Several years ago the South Dakota Newspaper Convention had Billy Mills as the keynote speaker, but he did not speak about race relations, but instead talked entirely about his Olympic Gold Medal. And that is fine because we are sure the SDNA would not have invited Mills if he wanted to talk race relations.

Tim Giago was a member of SDNA for 30 years and asked several times, including this year, his final year, if he could speak to the gathering of newspaper editors, publishers and journalists of South Dakota about the race problems of the state. He was denied that opportunity several times including this year. What are they afraid of and why?

The SDNA seems to think that if the problem is ignored it will go away and like the ostrich that buries its head in the sand so it will see no evil, the problem is here and the press just does not want to admit it.

No problem is ever solved if the opposing sides do not communicate. The SDNA has never had a Native American serve on its board nor has any Indian ever been elected to be the president of the association.

From left, Staff Writer Richie Richards, Sales Manager Jackie Giago, Editor Emeritus Tim Giago (holding the Best of the Dakotas award), Editor Ernestine Chasing Hawk and Publisher Christy Giago Tibbitts. The Native Sun News won 14 awards from the South Dakota Newspaper Association last month.

Over the years we have clashed with the leadership of SDNA but always in a positive way or at least we always believed that. We always hoped that by having Indians as members the board would use us to open the door of race relations.

Talking about race seems to be a frightening topic to the leadership of the SDNA and that is too bad because they have had the opportunity to be the media leaders in improving race relations but instead have chosen to hide in the weeds.

Several years ago Indian Country Today under Tim’s leadership won so many awards that the SDNA board decided to remove it from competing against other weekly newspapers and move it into the daily newspaper category. This was totally thoughtless and unfair. This meant ICT would have 52 issues to choose from while the dailies had 365. In protest Giago pulled Indian Country Today out of the association. And so our relationship to SDNA has been tumultuous at times, but we have always taken pride in being a member.

The director of SDNA, Dave Bordewyk, is still young and he can still make it a key part of his administration to address racial prejudice and racial ignorance in a state that can never lay claim to greatness until it solves its racial issues.

(The Editorial Board of NSN can be reached at editor@nsweekly.com)

Copyright permission Native Sun News

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