Paragraph 20 reads: ""I was born and raised in the Bible Belt and have Cheyenne ancestors. I would like to speak about the problems of anti-depressants that led me to prison.'
We asked and you answered.
For the past few weeks, the Native American Times has used our print edition to query our readers on what they like and dislike about the paper, including layout, commentaries and choice of coverage, as well as any suggestions they have.
Readers were asked about 13 different topics and how much reporting they would like to see on them. The 13 topics were: crime, law, politics, civil rights, gaming, sports, business, features stories, cultural stories, entertainment, arts, education, and events.
Respondents were asked to give their age bracket, sex and hometown.
After receiving numerous letters from across America, we can definitely say one thing for certain, and that is opinion in Indian Country is by no means uniform.
Several readers wrote in to say they wanted more “traditional” coverage.
“I would like to see more on where people can go to learn their tribal languages, and more on the traditional ways of life. I think if people knew more of the traditional ways, there would be less crime with our youngsters,” wrote a Choctaw/Lakota man between the ages of 26-46 from Claremore.
“Tell traditional stories from a different tribe every week,” said a reader between the ages of 0-25 currently stationed at Edwards Air Force Base, who also bemoaned the fact that he cannot purchase the paper in California and must read it online.
We are working on increasing our distribution.
“More spiritual and historical features,” wrote a man 65 or older from Yell County, Arkansas.
A reader between the ages of 47-65 from the suburbs of Missouri suggested, “More updates on what is happening at the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indians and feature monthly an American Indian author and an artist from various tribes across the country.”
“I love ‘Lest We Forget,’” offered a woman between the ages of 47-65 from the Bartlesville/Pawhuska area. “Leaders/writers from the past may help all of us understand and appreciate our heritage-possibly assist decisions made concerning current tribal and personal matters.”
Another sentiment that came through was unhappiness with the mainstream media over their coverage of Native American issues. Some readers were sensitive to what they feel are unfair portrayals.
“Break the stereotypes-have more success stories that emphasize the good achievements of Native Americans-not the crimes. Crimes can be found on TV,” wrote a reader between the ages of 47-65 from Albuquerque.
“Less crime and violence,” agreed a man between the ages of 47-65 from Sand Springs. “More good things done by Native Americans like the Modern Day Medicine Man.”
Political issues are another hot topic.
“Give the crooked thieves in Oklahoma City hell! Why can’t the rich tribes share with the poor?” offered one reader, who also requested less coverage of gaming issues on the grounds that it “creates crime.”
“Tell us how the federal government affects tribal sovereignty,” requested another.
Several of our most thoughtful responses came from prison inmates.
“More on education and how the [Bureau of Indian Affairs] continues to add or subtract from the daily lives of the tribes,” wrote a man between the ages of 47-65 who also suggested, “A pen pal group for honest recovering incarcerated people such as myself. I was born and raised in the Bible Belt and have Cheyenne ancestors. I would like to speak about the problems of anti-depressants that led me to prison.”
“The paper should do more stories on Indians in prison and how their rights are being taken away from them. We cannot pray with tobacco because it is against the law. How prison guards treat us because of our race,” was the comment of an Oklahoma man between the ages of 26-46.
“Have an art contest in your paper to enable a future Native artist to display their talent. Maybe have one art contest for prisoners as well for their self-esteem and a better opportunity,” wrote a man between the ages of 26-46 currently imprisoned in Oklahoma.
The art theme was common.
“Politically amusing artwork in reference to the stupid daily blunders made by the President and Congress,” wrote an Oregon man between 65 or older, who also requested “more radical” commentaries and said he would like to see our paper “sold in front of the White House. Just kidding.”
“A section devoted to a satirical look at mainstream society, especially Native American cartoonists or cartoons as seen through Native eyes,” suggested a Colorado Springs man 65 or older.
Other letters stood alone in their comments/suggestions.
“Make out or include on your Calendar of Events upcoming jazz and blues fests and country music fests. Some of us Native Americans are not Pow-Wow oriented,” wrote a 65 or older man from Lawton.
“More Oklahoma news,” said a reader between the ages of 47-65 from Tulsa. “Who cares about California or the other states? Oklahoma has enough tribes and people to write about.”
And finally, the sweetest correspondence came from a 65 or older Creek woman from Hughes County, Oklahoma.
“I have no ideas or comments,” she wrote. “If you take away anything in the newspaper, it will still be interesting to read.”
Thank you all for thoughts, and we look forward to implementing them in the near future. If you have a story idea, letter to the editor, or just a general comment, please send them to Native Times, P.O. Box 692050, Tulsa, OK, 74169, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.