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Censored Blog Brenda Norrell 2004 --2006

A year of writing dangerously

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A call to media whistleblowers
Infoshop News
Tuesday, December 26 2006 @ 11:18 AM PST
A year of writing dangerously
By Brenda Norrell
For all news reporters, the year of 2006 was a year of writing dangerously.
Those who dared investigate and tell the truth faced censorship and termination; those who did not dare were left to their ownselves.
As many readers reminded me in September, when I was fired after complaining of censorship, everything happens for a reason.
If I had not been fired, I would not have been able to spend the past two months covering extraordinary news stories for the U.N. OBSERVER & International Report. Many thanks to publisher Paul Rafferty at the Hague who made this possible.
First, there was the Border Summit of the Americas in San Xavier, Arizona, where Tohono O'odham opposed militarization of their lands and the border fence. Then, Subcomandante Marcos and the Zapatistas arrived in Sonora, Mexico, for the listening gatherings of the Other Campaign. I wrote uncensored.
Then, after receiving invitations, I joined Carrie Dann, Julie Fishel and many Western Shoshone and Navajo on the sacred land of the Western Shoshone. There, gold mining corporations are coring out mountains for small particles of gold, destroying the land and water, after the U.S. seized the Dann family horses and wild horses to clear the way for corporate gold mining.
After Nevada, there was the sunrise ceremony on Alcatraz Island. The International Indian Treaty Council brought together the most progressive leaders of thought, for prayer and traditional Indian and Palestinian dance at sunrise.
Then, the World Indigenous Uranium Summit on the Navajo Nation attracted incredible people, whose voices are too often censored, from 14 countries, victims of the uranium mining and nuclear industry that has targeted Indigenous lands worldwide. With a special message from a Chinese resister, Indigenous from Australia, India, Canada and elsewhere told of careless and scattered uranium and the corporations disregard for human life.
Finally, Navajos living in Burnham Chapter in New Mexico gave us all hope and courage as they stood their ground and faced off with the Navajo tribal government and an energy corporation pressing to build one more power plant on Navajoland.
For more than a decade I lived in the Chuska Mountains, above this valley where they want to build still another power plant. My heart remains there with them, especially the Navajo eldery who shared their lives, strength and beauty with me.
Meanwhile, Yaqui friends in Sonora fight the use of banned pesticides, exported from the US, killing their people, and Gwich'in fight oil exploration and the destruction of the Arctic and caribou homelands.
Now, near the border, watching friends gather toys for O'odham and Mayo in Sonora, Mexico, I can only be thankful that I was terminated.
At the same time, it is vital that news reporters become whistleblowers and expose to the world the censorship that prevents reporters in the United States from revealing the truth.
Whether it is the fault of individual editors with political or personal agendas, or publishers/corporate owners being owned by the U.S. government, corporations or private interests, the truth is that most news in America is censored.
Finally, a note of thanks to my mentor Duane Beyal, Navajo and longtime managing editor of Navajo Times, and Tim Giago, Lakota founder of many news publications.
During the past 23 years, neither Beyal nor Giago ever censored me.
Best to all of you in 2007,
Brenda Norrell
(Brenda Norrell is a former news reporter for Indian Country Today, terminated in September of 2006)