Media often overlook or fail to accurately depict the Indian perspective, and part of the problem is that there are very few Indian journalists working in America’s newsrooms, according to Jennifer Greene, former editor of Char-Koosta News, the official news publication of the Flathead Indian Nation. When Greene and photographer David Spear began teaching a journalism class at Salish Kootenai College (SKC) this year, the school became one of only two Indian colleges in the entire United States offering such a class, Greene says.
Out of that class has sprung a new online SKC student newspaper, The Camp Crier, which published its first issue on Wednesday, Oct. 20.
As SKC journalism student Marti de Alva explains on the website, the publication’s name is derived from the traditional role of the camp crier, who would travel around an encampment after a meeting of the chiefs to deliver the news.
“The function of the camp crier was vital to the life of the community,” de Alva writes. “We hope our newsletter too will become a vital source of important information and ideas to our readers.”
Spear says that his students are excited about the new site, and that “chat around campus has been really, really good.”
The online newspaper can be accessed at www.skc.edu/campcrier/, and the first edition includes a feature story on the sacredness of local hot springs and an opinion piece dealing with the tragedy of recent alcohol or drug-related deaths among local Indian youth. The site also features photography from several SKC students and provides links to other Indian information sources. Editorial content will be derived from SKC’s journalism class, and the current plan is to publish new editions monthly.
“A lot of times the way Native people are portrayed in the media is the way that other people want to hear,” Greene says. “This provides our students with an opportunity to talk about things that really matter to them in a way that is authentic to them.”