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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We hope you enjoyed the story you've just read. For the past dozen years, we’ve covered the most important news stories that are usually overlooked by other media. From the protests at Standing Rock and the rise of the American Indian Movement (AIM), to the ongoing epidemic of Murdered and Missing Indigenous People (MMIP) and the past-due reckoning related to assimilation, cultural genocide and Indian Boarding Schools.

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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, Ms. Vande Panne was editor-in-chief of Detroit's alt-weekly the Metro Times and news editor of High Times magazine. Ms. Vande Panne has also been a reporter at WGCU, the NPR and PBS affiliate in Southwest Florida, and she has been a stringer for The New York Times and Reuters. Her work has also appeared in Bloomberg, Columbia Journalism Review, The Guardian, Harvard Law Today, Politico, and Salon, among many other publications. Ms. Vande Panne matriculated at and attended Harvard University.