WASHINGTON — In a move signaling a major shift in the organization, UNITY: Journalists for Diversity announced Monday that the coalition will hold its first regional conference for an event planned on the homeland of the Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota.
The regional event titled “Empower Your Lakota Story” on Saturday, May 2 will bring journalists around the country to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for a gathering centered on media literacy, multimedia training, entrepreneurial journalism and a special town hall.
“Reservation life is consistently overlooked by mainstream media,” UNITY president Russell Contreras said by email. “Their experiences matter and their lives matter, even though there usually isn’t a hashtag to draw attention to them.”
The conference comes weeks after 57 children from American Horse School were racially harassed at a Rapid City minor league hockey game. Calls by the community and the tribe have been made to get the story out beyond the usual stereotypical pieces.
Contreras said members of the Oglala Lakota nation asked for UNITY’s assistance following the fallout over the harassment and rising tensions. Contreras appointed former Lakota Country Times Editor Karin Eagle to head a task force to explore a regional event, according to a press release
Eagle said UNITY’s presence is long overdue on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation because of the need for tribal members to be empowered to
tell their own stories.
“We have a long and beautiful tradition of storytelling,” Eagle states in the press release. “The only people who can best tell the stories of the Lakota people are the Lakota people, and I am proud to work with UNITY to bring the skills and knowledge to Pine Ridge in the pursuit of that kind of