In my Maine home town the American Indian
was the 'second hand citizen'.
They all lived near the city dump!
(just outside of town)
I befriended a few while shooting dump rats.
(we were teen-agers)
I discovered they were all just like me
Native American Journalists
on Trayvon Martin.
"We have our own system of injustice,
and we've been living it for 100 years,"
one veteran Native journalist said.
The fallout from the George Zimmerman trial was in the air Friday, as President Obama made a surprise speech about the verdict in the White House press briefing room. But at the National Native Media Conference in Tempe, Ariz., where the Native American Journalists Association was meeting, other topics ruled the day. The words "George Zimmerman" or "Trayvon Martin" were hardly uttered.
When asked why, attendees offered remarkably similar responses, variations of, "Welcome to my world. Native Americans receive unequal justice all the time."
"We have our own system of injustice, and we've been living it for 100 years," Tim Giago, Oglala Lakota, veteran Native journalist and founding president of NAJA, told Journal-isms.
"We're used to it. We have to prove our innocence," replied Lucinda Hughes-Juan, Tohono O'odham, a freelance business writer and business instructor at Tohono O'odham Community College.
"Native Americans have always dealt with similar circumstances," said Ronnie Washines of the Yakama Nation Review, a Yakama and a former NAJA president.
... Each could cite examples ...
In South Dakota, Giago said, a Native American was given a five-year sentence for driving while intoxicated, while a white man received probation.
"On my reservation alone," Washines said, "there have been almost a dozen unsolved murders and missing women cases." Then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales came to the reservation and promised to have investigators review all of the unsolved homicide and mysterious death cases on the reservation.
"They can't find anything. Came back with zero," Washines said.
"This is typical," Hughes-Juan said of the way justice was administered in the Martin case. "Being followed around in stores, stuff like that. We have so many issues, poverty issues, day-to-day survival." In March, NAJA and other Native groups complained to CBS-TV about the sitcom "Mike and Molly." "In the episode in question, Mike's mother, Peggy, who is played by Rondi Reed, reacted negatively to remarks that she should go to Arizona," Bill Donovan reported then for the Navajo Times.
"Arizona? Why should I go to Arizona? It's nothing but a furnace full of drunk Indians," the character says.
"It's a stereotype we get all the time," Hughes-Juan said. "Welcome to the club. I could still be going into a store in Tucson and not be waited on."