The Native American Journalists Association calls on Haskell Indian Nations University president Ronald Graham to stop intimidating student journalists and respect press freedom. President Graham’s attempts to silence Jared Nally, the award-winning editor-in-chief at The Indian Leader, Haskell’s student newspaper, disrespects protected free speech and press freedom. NAJA demands Haskell officials take immediate action to halt repressive tactics designed to punish journalists lawfully covering issues of concern to the Haskell community.
Indigenous reporters serve as independent monitors of officials and institutions and are essential to transparency, accountability, and Indigenous self-determination. Instead of condemning student journalists and media, NAJA urges Haskell Indian Nations University to celebrate and commend students for their dogged work.
Nally is at a pivotal moment in his life and career. The skill and insight that he gains while at Haskell and as the editor of The Indian Leader will inform and guide his ability to serve his community as he enters his chosen profession. Graham’s attempt to threaten and intimidate an Indigenous student represents not only Graham’s failure to meet the moment as an educator and administrator, but a failure of the institution to ensure an environment that cultivates and encourages Indigenous youth who seek to serve their community with responsibility, compassion, and commitment.
Ultimately, journalism is an act of service to provide information necessary for the wellbeing of the community, even information that authorities may wish to remain hidden. This type of transparency has always been essential to the resilience and survival of Indigenous people who need to clearly understand the challenges that lie ahead. Graham’s attempt to suppress student inquiry is fundamentally anti-Indigenous, and perpetuates the colonial goals of ignorance, isolation, and subjugation.
NAJA joins the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education in urging Haskell officials to respect student reporters and calls on President Graham to rescind his authoritarian-style threats at Nally for upholding his obligations to the Haskell community with persistent, thorough reporting.