Clubs Rotary hosts Indian Country panel
The Vermillion Rotary Club with Dan Van Peursem presiding met for our weekly lunch June 15 at the Neuharth Center. Because of the importance of our program some of the more chatty and unmelodious parts of our normal meetings were truncated. So, we sang only one, not two, songs at the outset and our sergeant-at-arms did not take a few minutes to chat us up for some forced contributions. The food seemed better, too. We were pleased to have our weekly luncheon built into an ongoing three week program based at USD. The fourth annual American Indian Journalism Institute is being held here, co-sponsored by USD and the Freedom Forum, for the period from June 6 to June 25. The facilities at the Al Neuharth Media Center are presently at the disposal of the 24 Native American college students invited for the institute and the faculty of 10 journalism professionals and educators here to work with them. Students with a special interest in media and journalism were chosen from applicants across the country (and into Canada). They are drawn from 20 different tribes in 12 different states (and one Canadian province) and are working to tune up their skills in reporting, photography, working with a faculty drawn from the four corners of the country (Washington, DC; Miami, FL; southern California, and Oregon). It is a "from sea to shining sea" gathering right here in the middle of nowhere where, however, the reporting on the lives and concerns of Native Americans is obviously of local importance as well. Madonna Thunder Hawk, long an activist for Native American concerns in South Dakota, and Roger Trudell, current tribal chairman at the Santee Sioux Reservation in northern Nebraska, gave us some of their views on "Democracy in Indian Country" with Roger Kozak serving as moderator. In the short time available our guests fielded questions ranging from current court decisions and upcoming (as well as just past) elections handled by the institutions and procedures of the established European-American governments here in this land as well as issues partly under the jurisdiction of the first Americans. We hardly had time to do more than scratch at the surface of these interconnected pieces of the large political puzzle but it served, at least, as a reminder of how complicated our political lives are when we look around with eyes wide open. We ended with our regular singing of My Country Tis' of Thee (sung to the tune of God Save the King/Queen) and every phrase of that song (especially, "land where our fathers died") had to sound a bit different.