September 12, 2013 KJZZSuicide rates among Native Americans are already four times the national average. And with recent cuts in federal funding for mental health services across the country, suicide prevention programs may lose ground in the communities that need them most.
August 9, 2013 An NPR investigation into foster care for American Indian children in South Dakota took on a serious issue but failed in several crucial respects. The series alleged that state social workers took children from their families as a way to get federal funds and put them in white homes out of cultural bias. While acknowledging secondary problems, editors defend the series, which won prizes. I find, however, that it violated NPR's standards because it lacked proof and failed to give the state's side on key points. The series also was characterized by an unfair tone, factual errors, misleading data and inadequate context. It should not have aired as it was. This introduction summarizes a six-chapter report on how not to do investigative storytelling.
August 9, 2013 The willful taking of American Indian children from their families was presented in the NPR investigation as the baseline of alleged widespread abuse of the foster care system by the state of South Dakota. But the series offered no documented proof, and it failed to fully discuss the centrally relevant matter of child neglect. The series also failed to report that South Dakota reservations have some of the highest levels in the country of alcoholism, drug abuse, violence, teenage pregnancy and similar ills. Many families there are struggling and falling apart.
August 9, 2013 The headline number in the NPR investigation into foster care for Native American children in South Dakota was that the state receives nearly $100 million a year in federal funds. The series alleged that this money — a large amount in a poor state — is driving state abuses of Native American children. Without clearly telling us, however, the $100 million number is poorly sourced and pumped up by including white children and adoptions. The state says it receives less than a quarter of that amount for Indians, even including funds for Medicaid and adoptions. The reporters have not given me information proving the state wrong.
August 9, 2013 The NPR investigation made inflated and misleading allegations that the state of South Dakota systematically puts American Indian children into white foster homes out of a cultural bias reminiscent of old Indian boarding schools. The series failed to report that the tribes' own judges make 40 percent of the foster home placements, often with the involvement of tribal social workers, and that there is an acute shortage of Native American foster homes. The series also ignored a companion program in which Indian children are indeed being put in Indian homes.
August 9, 2013 The conceptual basis of NPR's faulty investigation of American Indian foster care in South Dakota was a narrow — and misleading — interpretation of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act. By focusing mostly on the act's call for protecting Indian culture, the series failed to discuss the equally important need to protect children. The series also ignored historic Indian sovereignty issues and changing concepts of race.
July 1, 2013 Anderson was the first woman to lead a Minnesota Indian tribe, and led efforts to secure tribal hunting and fishing rights on Lake Mille Lacs. She died Saturday at age 81 of natural causes.
April 16, 2013 Former South Dakota Sen. James Abourezk drafted the law, meant to prevent Native American children from being removed from their homes by the state. The law is at the center of an emotional child custody case in front of the Supreme Court.
April 10, 2013 Seventy objects sacred to Arizona's Hopi tribe are scheduled to hit the block Friday. Tribal members say the items were taken illegally and have asked U.S. officials to help stop the sale, which French auctioneers estimate the sale may bring in $1 million. A court hearing is set for Thursday in Paris.
March 7, 2013 A group of Native Americans says the NFL's Washington Redskins should not be allowed to trademark the team name, which they say is offensive. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, part of the U.S. Patent Office, heard the case Thursday.
September 16, 2012 Processed wild rice dominates grocery store shelves, but around the Great Lakes, Native Americans still harvest it the same way their ancestors did centuries ago. This weekend, the Wild Rice Festival in Rosemont, Minn., celebrates the tradition.
May 16, 2012 U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren's claims of Native American heritage seem uneasy to swallow. But why? What does it take to be considered an ethnic minority, and what does the controversy say about the way we judge ethnic backgrounds?
April 12, 2012 The U.S. government will pay more than $1 billion to settle lawsuits filed by 41 American Indian tribes, who had accused federal agencies of mismanaging tribal money and resources. The agreement ends nearly two years of negotiations; some claims date back more than 100 years.