West River Eagle

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From the Editorial Board


Welcome to December!

It’s Tahecapsun Wi, Moon of Shedding Horns. In this week’s paper we finish up our coverage of Native American Heritage Month, Veterans Day and Thanksgiving. It’s a hodge-podge coming together as we move into the darkest days of the year headed toward the solstice.

Mary Lee Johns offers a remembrance of Thanksgivings past: What they meant to her as a child and what they mean to her now. We are so happy to add Mary Lee’s voice to our paper. She brings a wonderful perspective as a traditional Lakota woman, public servant, and sociologist.

Thanks to Nancy Dupris for the photos from the C-EB Upper Elementary Veterans Day event. We are proud of the many veterans on Cheyenne River and they multitude of ways they show up. We see you!

Club Q and political partisanship 

Two serious topics have come to the fore in the past few weeks: the shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs on November 19 on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance and ongoing political partisanship (especially around our holiday tables).

First off, if you are looking for resources to cope with the shooting at Club Q, the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center has a great list (niwrc.org/news/niwrc-responds-club-q-shooting-gun-violence).

They make a great point, “Furthermore, we must confront the gun violence crisis and the horrific toll it has taken on women, our 2S+/LGBTQ+ community, and youth at disparate rates; this lack of safety is unacceptable and represents the glaring reality of a system that has failed to prioritize the well-being of our nation’s most vulnerable.”

This quote echoes back to our coverage of the shooting tragedy in Eagle Butte in July, where we reported on the rise in gun violence in small town America at “the intersection of poverty, racial segregation and systemic disinvestment.”

The fact that the shooting in Colorado Springs took place on the eve of Trans Day of Remembrance makes it even more solemn. It’s worth note that the main holiday in the trans calendar is not Pride in July. It’s a remembrance for the dead. Over 375 trans or gender-diverse people have been killed around the globe in 2022. This is a community sculpted by grief.

In the past few weeks our paper has carried coverage of the return of sacred belonging from Wounded Knee to tribes in South Dakota, and we are gearing up for remembrances of Wounded Knee in December. In some ways, the grief between these two communities feels connected. In both cases it comes from protracted, intentional, and widely-sanctioned violence. We offer no further conclusion here, except to encourage our readership to be resolute in speaking out against intolerance.

[A side note: Our editor, Fran, is friends with many trans people. If you have any questions, no matter what, just ask her. She’s happy to visit about it, fran@westrivereagle.com.]

The shooting occurred a week before Thanksgiving. In recent years, the Thanksgiving table has become a tough place for families at opposite ends of the political spectrum. Plenty of memes offer advice on how to avoid conflict at the holiday table.

Recent reporting from the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government suggests a different approach.

They found that engaging in tough conversations with family actually promotes compromise and civility. Having a one-on-one experience enables people to believe we can actually do the same in our national political discourse.

The reporting rests on the research of Jennifer Wolak, a political science professor at Michigan State University who studies the psychology of compromise, and Kirsten Cornelson, assistant professor of economics at the University of Notre Dame.

“Wolak says social norms can be a powerful motivator for civility. She suggests, for example, that because it is inappropriate to have a screaming match at Thanksgiving dinner, people’s stereotypes become disrupted when they realize it is possible to have a polite conversation with someone who does not align with them politically.”

This is great news for families, communities, and our country; not to mention local newspapers reporting on commonalities across communities.

Says Cornelson, “When you’re having these conversations, they can feel really frustrating, but actually you’re being influenced … It means you’re influencing your family as well. There is actually some element of productive discussion going on, even when it may not feel like it.”

Read more (journalistsresource.org/politics-and-government/thanksgiving-politics/) for a great comparison to football fans!

Hopefully your Thanksgiving table was filled with good food, dear friends, loving family and rich conversation. Our celebrations at the West River Eagle featured lots of chosen family. We were grateful for every one of you, our readers.

Be safe. Be kind. Be grateful.

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