July 6, 2011
To the Hoopa Valley Tribal Council,
The Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) is disappointed about the news that your tribal newspaper “The Two Rivers Tribune” has been shut down because of financial situations and story sensitivity issues. We at NAJA encourage freedom of the press for all reporters/editors, especially for your tribal paper.
According to your own bylaws: The Hoopa Valley Tribe, in exercising its powers of self-government, shall not:
a. Make or enforce any law prohibiting the free exercise of religion, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people to peaceably assemble and to petition for a redress of grievances;
The tribal council is illegally violating their rights by shutting down the paper. All journalists have a right to hold their own opinion without interference from the government.
Tribal newspapers are the main conduit for the flow of information from tribal officials to tribal members. There are none more dedicated to their own tribal interests than those newspaper staff people. Shutting down your tribal newspaper impacts the whole tribe and those cities around your tribe. Tribal members will not get the valuable tribal information from local or regional newspapers as they would from their own newspaper.
Now your tribal officials and tribal members will receive news from journalists who probably do not understand sovereignty, culture or history. We ask that you take another look at the importance of your tribal newspaper and let your journalists do their jobs.
President, Native American Journalists Association
OU Gaylord College
395 W Lindsey
Norman, Oklahoma 73019-4201