October 04, 2010

Stop showing Indians in chains

An editorial from the Native Sun News published on or about 9/24/10:

Showing Indians in chains every night on TV has got to stop

By Tim GiagoWe do not believe there is a bone of prejudice in the body of Helen Duhamel of KOTA-TV or of her fellow anchor Eric Gardner. What there appears to be is an insensitivity based on an ignorance of the racial contention in Rapid City and rather than soothe the waters of prejudice, they throw oil on it and set it on fire.

Last Thursday on the evening news Gardner made the same tired assertion that a shooting that took place in the parking lot of the Civic Center last December was somehow connected to the Lakota Nation Invitational Tournament. It was not. It was an isolated incident that happened at the time the LNI was in town and nothing more and to try to tie it to the LNI is beyond ridiculous.

Suppose an American Indian shot someone during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally: Would the shooting be broadcast as connected to the Rally or would there be no attempt at connecting the two? Every Native American knows the answer to that.

As Gardner was trying to connect the shooting to the LNI the visuals on the screen showed several obvious Native Americans handcuffed hand and foot being forced to parade for the camera between buildings. We are sure that in the minds of most white Rapid City residents two plus two equals five. Native Americans in black and white prison garb with handcuffs are criminals. Therefore all Native Americans are criminals. All Native Americans are dangerous. Native Americans are to be feared. It is dangerous to travel to the Indian reservations because all of the residents are criminals and dangerous. Far fetched? Not on your life. In Rapid City we hear it every day and yet in the ivory towers of KOTA they must be tone deaf.

We have a lot of respect for Helene and for Eric, but we are bothered by this lack of sensitivity to the feelings and the reputations of Native Americans. We make up nearly 25 percent of the population in Rapid City and those prisoners seen on the nightly news probably make up less than one tenth of one percent of the Native American population, but by repeating this horrific scene over and over, every night, the impression is left that all Native Americans are criminals and therefore dangerous. Why does KOTA persist in creating this false image?
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Indians Missing from Newscasts, Aboriginal Youths on the Warpath?, and Indians on the Chain Gang.

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