“Bill Lawrence never flinched from scrutinizing Minnesota’s tribal governments, even when someone fired bullets through his newspaper office windows in Bemidji,” the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes here. “ But a battle with late-stage cancer has prompted Lawrence to fold the Native American Press/Ojibwe News after 21 years.”
For his final edition, Lawrence wrote an editorial headlined “A good day to die.”
“I am no longer physically able to do the tasks – computer searches, investigating, seeking ads – that are necessary to put out an edition,” writes, who is in hospice care in Sun Valley, Idaho, where he has family. The situation “makes it impossible for me to continue.”
Lawrence, a former miner and Marine, is tough. He pushed Minnesota’s 11 tribal casinos to open their books, wrote stories that sent several corrupt tribal leaders to prison, and even challenged powerful Red Lake Reservation Chairman Roger Jourdain – his godparent. He had to mortgage his house when casinos pulled their ads from his paper, the Star-Tribune reports. His work earned him a Freedom of Information award from the Society of Professional Journalists.
His column continued: “I cannot say with certainty that ours will be a lasting contribution. But we sure as hell roiled the waters and made a lot of enemies.I also know in my heart that we made a lot of friends, and that our work was important to the Indian people, especially in Minnesota.”
With the greatest respect, we’d like to disagree with Lawrence on one point. His contribution indeed will be lasting.