is not just for non-Indians,' Ron Walters of the Native American
Journalists Association told students.
S.D. Young Native Americans can help get an Indian point
of view into mainstream media, the leader of the Native journalism
a journalist will help continue to change America's perspective
and stop newsroom excuses" for ignoring Indian issues, said
Ron Walters, executive director of the Native American Journalists
spoke at a dinner June 7 at the American Indian Journalism Institute,
a three-week Freedom Forum training program at the University of
South Dakota. The 24 students of this year's AIJI class come
from 19 tribes in 12 states and one Canadian province.
are all first agents for change in this industry, and you can change
mainstream society's perception of Native Americans,"
Walters told the students. "Journalism is not just for non-Indians."
encouraged the journalist hopefuls to help give a voice to their
people and to present a truthful perception of Native peoples
to mainstream society.
said that it was up to Native American journalists to bring issues
that are important in Indian Country and make them important to
mainstream people as well. According to Walters, Native journalists
have a responsibility to "step up" and break the false
perceptions of them from the past.
(editors) thought I would be too biased to cover Native American
stories," Walters said of his newspaper reporting experience
in South Dakota and Iowa before becoming the NAJA executive director
more than a year ago.
Walters' long, braided hair was a problem for some of his coworkers,
he said. "There is something about Native American culture
that intimidates some people," he said.
is headquartered at the Al Neuharth Media Center at the university.
Explaining NAJA's role, Walters said, "We are dedicated
to recruiting, training and retaining Native journalists."
Dresser, Travis Coleman and Michael Redstone are students at this
year's American Indian Journalism Institute. Dresser, Northern
Arapaho, attends Central Wyoming College in Fort Washakie, Wyo.
Coleman, Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, attends the University of South
Dakota in Vermillion, and Redstone, Fort Peck Assiniboine, attends
Montana State University in Billings.