We in the news business are being deluged these days by reports of the imminent death of “paper” newspapers and the concurrent rush go digital in every format possible.
In the midst of all the wailing and gnashing of teeth is the Native Sun News in Rapid City, S.D., which debuted a year and a half ago as a defiantly paper newspaper and has stayed that way ever since. As publisher Tim Giago wrote about that decision:
You won’t find us on the Internet. So many of my Indian readers do not have computers or do not even have access to them. Native Sun News will go back to the traditional way of providing news for Indian country. The paper will have serious news, but we will never abandon that Indian sense of humor that so many non-Indians accuse us of not having. You will be able to hold our newspaper in your hands, sip on a hot cup of coffee, and read the news you used to love to read in The Lakota Times and Indian Country Today.
The paper is especially tough on cases of alleged corruption.
Native Sun News is often the only news outlet to publicize cases like the one involving Donita King, whose story was featured in the July 21 issue. King, an enrolled member of the Assiniboine Sioux on the Fort Peck Reservation in northeastern Montana, says that she and her family have been fighting for years for the money due from her oil-rich allotments.
People are widely familiar with the issue of Native Americans being cheated out of royalties on their land allotments, thanks to the massive Cobell v. Salazar class-action suit against the Interior Department.
But as King tells Native Sun News managing editor Randall Howell, it’s not the U.S. government, but tribal officials, who have been cheating her family. King, who is legally blind, says the money due her family has instead been directed to fake accounts set up by powerful people in the tribe.
As Howell reports, “What started out as a ‘simple probate search’ more than two decades ago, after King’s father had died, has resulted in nearly 50 grand-jury indictments over allotment fraud.”
King, who is a descendant of Hunkpapa Sioux Chief Sitting Bull and who says the long fight has resulted in death threats to her and her family, calls the whole mess a “path of shame.”
And the only place you can read about it is the Native Sun News “The only Indian newspaper that cowboys can read, too!”). You can look at a reproduction of each week’s front page and read a column by Giago online every week at www.nsweekly.com/. And, even though reading the entire newspaper defiantly remains a tactile experience, you can follow Native Sun News, and discussions about its stories, on both Facebook and Twitter.