Indian Country Today’s broadcast studio. (Photo by Tomás Amaya Karmelo, Indian Country Today)
Indian Country Today is on a new path.
This is Trahant Reports.
The 40-year-old newspaper is no longer owned by the National Congress of American Indians. In fact, the Associated Press’s headline was particularly cool. “News outlet Indian Country Today has new a owner: itself.”
So after four decades of publication ICT is not owned by an individual, a tribe, or NCAI. Our enterprise is now operated by journalists and our cause is simple, report the news and make sure the Indigineous voice is reflected in the public square.
This is a chapter in a long story.
Cherokee Chief John Ross summed up the contradictions in one speech in 1828. He called the Phoenix “a public press” that “should be cherished as an important vehicle in the diffusion of general information … Then he warned “to guard against the admission of scurrilous productions of a personal character, and also against cherishing sectarian principles on religious subjects. The press being the public property of the Nation, it would ill become its character if such infringements upon the feelings of the people should be tolerated. In other respects, the liberty of the press should be as free as the breeze that glides upon the surface.
Free as the breeze is a high calling for press performance. This was the goal of ICT 40 years ago when Tim Giago founded it at Pine Ridge. It was a similar idea for Howard Rock and the Tundra Times in 1962 in Fairbanks when he wrote that the paper is “here to express your ideas, your thoughts and opinions on issues that vitally affect you. With this humble beginning we hope, not for any distinction, but to serve with dedication the truthful presentation of Native problems, issues and interests.”
Our mission statement: “Indian Country Today is a spacious channel that serves Indigenous communities with news, entertainment, and opinion.”
“This is a new day for ICT, which has a long history as a premier source of news for and about Indigenous communities, written and produced by Indigenous journalists,” said Karen Michel, Ho Chunk, president and CEO of IndiJ Public Media. “As IndiJ Public Media’s name implies, our focus remains on Indigenous journalism while emphasizing our expansion into broadcasting.”
NCAI President Fawn Sharp called the change an “exciting time for Indian Country Today to become fiscally independent and to continue its tradition of an autonomous free press.”
Free press is the key words. Even now many of us still call ICT a “newspaper” even though it’s a digital site and a daily broadcaster.
The new company IndiJ Public Media has some challenges ahead. And the prospects are amazing. As the comic book possum, Pogo once said. “We are faced with insurmountable opportunities.”
I am Mark Trahant.