A call to media whistleblowers
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 is a former news reporter
for Indian Country Today, terminated in September of 2006)