Jodi Rave (Chad Harder Photo)
I spent some time over the 4th reading commentary written by Native Americans, a segment of the U.S. population with little reason to celebrate Independence Day. Their ancestors, after all, were free before Euro-Americans arrived on these shores and only within the last 50 years or so have been moving strongly to recover culture and pride after more than three centuries of subjugation, racism, Christianization, ethnic cleansing and monumental land grabs.
I especially liked this piece, "Without the First Americans, there would be no U.S.A.," written by Ruth Hopkins for Indian Country Today, where I usually land first when looking for coverage of Native issues. As you may have (or because of its absence, not) noticed, American Indian issues are not high on the priority list of mainstream media.
Indian Country Today, founded as an independent voice on the Pine Ridge Reservation during 1981, is one of the pioneers in targeted coverage of Native news. Sold in 1998 to the Oneida Nation of New York, its headquarters moved to New York City during 2011.
That got me to thinking about Jodi Rave, a contributor at times to Indian Country and an excellent writer and reporter I'm familiar with because of her former association with Lee Enterprises, the Davenport-based news corporation that employed me for a good many years.
Rave covered Native issues for Lee, commencing in the late 1990s and concluding in 2009, during a period at the start at least when the newspaper group was focused on creative journalism rather than creative financing to stave off bankruptcy.
Lee has a strong presence in Nebraska, the Dakotas and especially Montana, where Rave concluded her Lee career on the Missoulian staff and continues to live, study and work. Among other honors, she became in 2004 the first Native American woman to be named a Nieman Fellow for study at Harvard University (an enrolled Mandan and Hidatsa, she grew up on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota).
Rave left Lee to write a book and work on a master's degree at the University of Montana (where she continues to study). She's also host of a radio program about native issues on the university's radio station, KBGA, and earlier this year relaunched her personal blog, Buffalo's Fire, as a national news site focused on Native issues but specializing in in-depth opinion and analysis.
Too many journalists leave the mainstream field these days burned out and discouraged, but Rave obviously hasn't. In addition to having talent and drive, she also has a mission --- and that helps. Way to go!