OPINION: Natives, news, and nuisances: A look at the Indigenous Peoples’ March at a larger scale

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Lyric Aquino

On Friday Jan. 18, indigenous people, activists and allies gathered in Washington D.C. to march in solidarity after President Trump’s “joke” tweet about the Wounded Knee Massacre.

On Dec. 29, 1890, hundreds of native men, women and children were brutally murdered at Wounded Knee. We remember tragedies such as 9/11, Pearl Harbor and the Holocaust with great sorrow. However, as a nation, we tend to disregard the tragedies native people have faced in this country’s short history.

Recently a video went viral showing a group of young teenagers, mostly white males, wearing bright red MAGA hats, harassing indigenous marchers and allies. The first time I watched the video, I was filled with rage. How could a boy so young stare smugly in the face of an elder and try to humiliate him? How could someone bear so much hatred? Did he believe the elder was simply not worthy to share the same rights of protest based off of his songs, drumming or the color of his skin?

Cloaked in his privileges of whiteness and manhood, he stared smugly thinking that these two facets of his existence would keep him safe and make him virtually untouchable.  

The blood, sweat and tears of natives have been disregarded and often forgotten. We’re taught in our history books that the native people were killed, overrun in battle. But we were hunted like animals, families stripped apart, tortured and left for dead.

People fought and died, and their descendants came together to preserve themselves after the ill treatment and devastation of an entire civilization, yet the country still pays them no mind.

They try to silence their voices, our voices, my voice.

The media rarely cover indigenous news, marches, tragedies, etc. Native Americans or members of our indigenous population are advocates for ourselves, produce our own media, and get little to no representation in any form of the mass media.

Before the white teenage boys were seen harassing the native elder and fellow marchers, did you even hear about the Indigenous Peoples March? Did you know that the indigenous community has their own publication to ensure native peoples and allies have access to information regarding positive aspects of the indigenous community, issues, and various other native related topics?

Probably not.

Yet major news networks are flocking to the news site Indian Country Today to gather information and reference articles.

As a native woman and member of the media, I’m thrilled to see natives get a platform and to see the foot traffic of Indian Country Today increase. However, I can’t help but be disappointed in the lack of media coverage on native affairs.

Does it really take a group of white “men” berating natives to draw attention to indigenous people and their issues?

In a country that seems to pride itself on equal opportunity, all native people seem to have to work three times as hard to get their message across and to be taken seriously.

However, we are a resilient people. And what this nation can not do for us, we will do for ourselves.

Lyric Aquino is the features editor. Contact her at [email protected]