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As we in Indian Country know, our lives are filled with challenges and triumphs. As we at Native News Online looked at our top stories of 2021, it was a heart-wrenching reminder of that. From Pregnant 18-year-old Mashpee Wampanoag Woman Found Dead in a Florida Field to Alaska Native Teen Makes Waves as May Vogue Mexico Covergirl–both in the top 21 of our most read stories–Native News Online worked to uplift stories that need to be told.

Sometimes, these stories are especially challenging, such as our second and third most read stories of the year, Remains Found in North Carolina Storage Unit Identified as Turtle Mountain Chippewa Woman Missing for 15 Years and The Remains of 10 Children at the Carlisle Indian Boarding School Are Returning Home

Both of these stories, even writing about and linking to them here, bring tears to our eyes. It is, perhaps, one of the hardest parts of being a reporter: Covering absolute tragedy that we are–almost–powerless to do anything about. 

The one thing we can do, the place where our power lives, is what we turn to: We tell the story.

That power, with yours, our reader, continues to grow. Our most read story of 2021 was Haaland Retains Her Composure in the Face of “Immense Disrespect” in Confirmation Hearing. The U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, a proud Laguna Pueblo woman, is perhaps the most visible embodiment of our hopes for the future. One where we face the world and all its ugliness with dignity, and one where, even amidst profound tragedy, we can stand in our power and do what must be done–for our communities now, and for ten thousand generations to come.

And so, reflecting back on 2021, we can say: We told the stories. It is our commitment, both as reporters and as part of the fabric of Indian Country. You supported us, and you heard and shared our stories. Our lives are woven together, and it is through our stories that our cloth becomes stronger, and that our relations, our relatives, and our connections strengthen. 

We are grateful to you, our readers and supporters, and we look forward to continuing to serve and uplift our voices and communities in 2021. 

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The truth about Indian Boarding Schools

This month, we’re asking our readers to help us raise $10,000 to fund our year-long journalism initiative called “The Indian Boarding School Project: A Dark Chapter in History.”  Our mission is to shine a light on the dark era of forced assimilation of native American children by the U.S. government and churches.  You’ll be able to read stories each week and join us for Livestream events to understand what the Indian Boarding School era has meant to Native Americans — and what it still means today.

This news will be provided free for everyone to read, but it is not free to produce. That’s why we’re asking you to make a donation this month to help support our efforts.  Any contribution of any amount — big or small — gives us a better, stronger future and allows us to remain a force for change. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you. 

About The Author
Author: Valerie Vande PanneEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Valerie Vande Panne is managing editor of Native News Online. A longtime journalist, Vande Panne has worked as an editor and reporter for a diverse range of media outlets including NPR, Metro Detroit, and High Times. Vande Panne has been a stringer for The New York Times and Reuters. During her career, she has contributed to Columbia Journalism Review, Bloomberg, The Guardian, Politico and Salon.