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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Native News Online’s editorial staff is dedicated to providing accurate and important news about the Indigenous peoples year round. Their commitment to telling accurate stories about the history and contemporary stories of Indigenous peoples provides an important voice to the descendants of the original people on this continent. 

As we celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we asked some of our editorial team to write what it means to be a writer on Indigenous issues for Native News Online

Elyse Wild - Senior Editor

At Native News Online, our job is to elevate the long-ignored and intentionally hidden truth of what Indigenous people have suffered for generations at the hands of the U.S. government. The very existence of Native News Online challenges the status quo of dismissing Indigenous voices and experiences.

As a journalist who writes about Indigenous issues, it's important for me to shine a light on the dark disparities Native people experience in almost every measure and highlight the Native-led solutions, immense contributions and knowledge of Native peoples.

Photo taken at the 2023 Potawatomi Gathering at the Pine Creek Indian Reservation in Athens, Mich. (Photo/Levi Rickert)

 This looks like not just bringing attention to the disproportionately high opioid overdose rate in Indian Country but showcasing innovative Indigenous harm reduction strategies and Native-led initiatives that are saving lives. It means demanding answers for the systemic apathy that drives the Missing and Murdered Indigenous People epidemic Missing and Murdered Indigenous People epidemic and amplifying the voices of the Native communities searching for their loved ones by pooling their resources to form networks, collecting data, and supporting each other.

Kristen Lilya (Bois Forte Band of Chippewa) - Producer - Native Bidaské/Marketing & Sponsorship Representative

I am a proud Gen Z mixed Native American, Indigenous to this land and not to be confused with being from India. Growing up on the Bois Forte Reservation, I've seen challenges like drug addiction, which took friends and loved ones.

I resonate deeply with Native News Online and am passionate about supporting its mission, as it reflects many of my values. Our journalism aims to educate our readers on tribal issues.

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Boarding schools tried to erase our culture, but I'm actively working to preserve it for future generations.

I found my passion for marketing in college and later realized my knack for sales, which now occupies my two jobs. I value the team as they get the essence of who I am without needing a "Native 101" introduction. 

Being a girl from a small reservation, Working at Native News Online has Opened my eyes to ALL of Indian Country and it increased my knowledge of native communities across Turtle Island.

Jenna Kunze - Senior Reporter

Centering Indigenous stories for Native News Online means re-framing our nation's history from the long-absent Native perspective. It means holding up truths that have been lived and understood by Indigenous communities for centuries, but have been intentionally absent or miscontexualized by U.S. history books.

In my work, elevating the Native perspective has also meant holding power to account. It has meant bringing attention to the ivy-covered institutions throughout the country that have long profited off of the non-consensual study of Native American human remains, despite a 30 year old federal law that required their return.

 It has meant holding the U.S. Army's feet to the fire to respect tribal sovereignty and human rights as they undertake the disinterment and return of the more than 200 children who died while attending the nation's flagship boarding school, Carlisle Indian Industrial School. 

It has meant shining light on solution stories of Indigenous-led efforts to clean toxic waterways with kelp farming in the Hamptons, or reduce maternal mortality rates with Indigenous doulas Indigenous doulas in Seattle. 

Our work at Native News Online is underscored and reinforced by author Chinua Achebe's quote in his novel, Things Fall Apart: “Until the lion learns how to write, every story will glorify the hunter.” Until Indigenous Peoples are given the power platform to tell their own stories, every story will glorify the United States government. Native News Online gives Indigenous Peoples that audience.

Darren Thompson (Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe) - Reporter

Indigenous Peoples Day is the continuation of a movement led by America's Indigenous peoples to demonstrate to a society that we are still here and proud to celebrate our culture. 

Now, more than ever before, families and communities throughout the country are joining the movement to celebrate Indigenous people and culture as a statement to replace the celebration of Columbus Day, which is the second Monday of October. 

Documenting the shift in society comes with triumph and disappointment, and it is vital to include Indigenous voices and perspective when discussing "narrative" in mainstream media. Society has repeatedly tried to dispossess and dehumanize Indigenous people of their culture, families, and lands to justify massive land grabbing and genocide; any efforts to celebrate their culture are largely misunderstood and aggressively opposed in, sometimes, violent ways. 

The mere expression of Indigenous culture on their own lands is still seen as a threat to some, and until that spirit is gone, it will be crucial to document Indigenous people, voices, and causes. No one can tell an Indigenous story better than the people themselves. 

Levi Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) - Editor

When I founded Native News Online almost 13 years ago, I knew then it was time to celebrate Indigenous voices. So often Indigenous voices have been underrepresented in mainstream media. 

The University of North Carolina’s Hussman School of Journalism defines a news desert as a community, either rural or urban, with limited access to the sort of credible and comprehensive news and information that feeds democracy at the grassroots level.

At Native News Online, we celebrate Indigenous Peoples every day, year round by working hard to help fill that void in mainstream media so that Indian Country does not become a news desert. I am more convinced today it’s time to celebrate Indigenous voices.

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Native Perspective.  Native Voices.  Native News. 

We launched Native News Online because the mainstream media often overlooks news that is important is Native people. We believe that everyone in Indian Country deserves equal access to news and commentary pertaining to them, their relatives and their communities. That's why the story you’ve just finished was free — and we want to keep it that way, for all readers.  We hope you'll consider making a donation to support our efforts so that we can continue publishing more stories that make a difference to Native people, whether they live on or off the reservation. Your donation will help us keep producing quality journalism and elevating Indigenous voices. 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-centered journalism. Thank you.

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