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Lakota Country Times

Giago paved the way for Indian media

align=left img src=clients/lakotacountrytimes/amanda.jpg>This past weekend, Tim Giago was inducted into the South Dakota Newspaper Hall of Fame. I wasn't able to attend because of personal reasons but was so proud that the South Dakota Newspaper Association chose Tim as one of their four inductees for the year. Over time, there has been 100 people recognized in the Hall of Fame from South Dakota and Giago is the first Native American to be selected for the honor. For South Dakota, that is an honor.

Giago has paved the way for Indian media way back when ignorance and racism was thicker than what it is today. He started the Lakota Times back in 1981 and it was renamed to Indian Country Today in the early 1990s and then eventually the Oneida Nation of New York purchased it and took it to a wider national scale. The ink is still not dry in his blood: he published the Lakota Journal until 2004 when he retired and sold it to the Flandreau Sioux Tribe on the east side of the state

In 1982, I was struggling to attend Oglala Lakota College full time, raise two children with my husband and fit a job in there somewhere, I worked part time for Tim and Doris Giago. I worked at their newspaper in Martin in post production, getting the newspaper ready for distribution. Soon, I made it to typist, mailing, then design and after a couple of years Tim tacked on Editor to the back of my name.

He gave me books to study and taught me how to handle that red pen fairly well. He was patient with me, he taught me about editing and writing and what he couldn't teach me he sent me to places where I could learn. One day he placed the Associated Press Manual on my desk and said that was like the Bible language to professional journalism. The contents of that book were used by mainstream newspapers.
It basically makes reading news easy. It took time but I learned it.

One of those first places was Columbia University in New York with funding from the New York Times. I attended a seminar for news editors for a week and in my spare time, did a tour around New York City.

It was a learning experience for me and what I retained was the knowledge that technology was changing the world and what the news media had to look forward to regarding technology.

Knowing those things helped to shape the foundation of my career. It was also a trip that tempted me to do more traveling through my career to see the ‘culture’ of mainstream America.

Not only is Tim a gifted writer and committed publisher but he was an independent business man.
He published his papers on his own, which meant owning his own press because he wanted to see freedom of the Indian press.

He didn't fold or give in to pressure when it went against his beliefs. I saw him time after time stand up for his beliefs about the news media, about racism, about freedom of religion, about tribal government, state and local issues.

I especially enjoyed his symbolic way of rolling up his newspaper and thumping the non-Indian press on the forehead with it to bring attention to their ignorant behavior towards Native Americans, especially to members of the South Dakota Newspaper Association, who inducted him to the Hall of Fame.

He believed they had the tools to educate South Dakota about the Lakota people and their respective nations. That is why I am so pleased he is now in their Hall of Fame.
In the 14 years, I worked for Tim, I could write story after story of what went in an Indian newspaper news room but what sticks with me most is a phrase he used to fire at me, which I finally learned in my heart, "A good editor can make a mediocre writer good and a good writer great."
It was knowing we had the skills and the means of making great Indian writers that developed the ink in my blood. I watched him work with many writers, columnists, graphic artists, cartoonists, sales people and others and knowing that they have moved forward in their lives with the knowledge that they learned and used it somewhere in their lives to make change.

Since then I have worked with writers, columnists, graphic artists, cartoonists, high school students and others and I hope that even the tiniest thing they learn from me will benefit them and their community just as I learned from him.
Tim wanted to see change in Indian country so he used his papers to promote change. Because of his beliefs and his methods there were times he wasn't very popular in Indian communities but he is a true pioneer for Indian journalism. He did it his way.

When the Lakota Journal was sold to Flandreau in 2004, I jumped on the bandwagon to start Lakota Country Times in 2004 for Pine Ridge and Rosebud to fill that void.
Information is important because information can make change and that is why I made the choice to take the newspaper helm again.

Every time I log onto Indian Country Today to see what is happening on the national front, I feel pride in how it has grown and I remember those late nights of putting the 'paper to bed' and remember when it was all about making change.

It was about one man’s desire to profile the plights and joys of Indian county.

Every week, when we put the Lakota Country Times 'to bed' I am proud we are providing information that will make someone curious, provide information that makes people think about issues, to make someone smile and feel proud of achievement, to feel inspired or just plain laugh at our cartoons.

Amanda Takes War Bonnett is editor and publisher of Lakota Country Times. She has more than 20 years of experience in publishing and media relations. She comes from a family of 12 with four children and nine grandchildren of her own and more than 100 grandchildren from her siblings. She is a graduate of Oglala Lakota College.

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Newspaper and Education Contest Award Winner


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