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First annual Lakota Media Summit builds local connections

C.J. Keene
Lynn Cuny, Thunder Valley CDC deputy director, leads the War Pony panel with Wilma Colhoff, Pte Chante Poor Bear, Iona Red Bear, and Ladainian Crazy Thunder on day two of the Lakota Media Summit.

A new event brought together activists, artists, and media in Rapid City to examine and update the way we talk about Native people and issues. It’s called the Lakota Media Summit, and it was hosted by Thunder Valley, a Lakota activist organization.

Topics at the Lakota Media Summit ranged from protocol for approaching Lakota elders to persistent colonial narratives.

Tatewin Means is the executive director for Thunder Valley. She says the event was designed to change the conversation surrounding native people.

“This inaugural Lakota Media Summit is really opening the conversation to narrative shifting, and really centering it on our collective liberated future," Means said. "So, how do we do that? Inviting youth, inviting those media professionals, those that are aspiring media professionals, elders from the community, all together to have a conversation around our storytelling.”

Another speaker was Kyle White who is the associate director of foundation relations with research group Illuminative. In his presentation he shared data laying out just how few people are exposed to Native issues.

“72 percent of Americans - they almost never encounter or seek out information about our people," White said. "Out of the 50 states, there’s 27 states that don’t even mention anything about native people in K-12 curriculum. 95 percent of the images that come up in the first hundred images when people search “Native American” are from the nineteenth century.”

One keynote speaker was native activist Chase Iron Eyes, who focused on the history of media coverage in the area.

“Reading everything that I could, watching everything that I could, consuming all the media that I could, Pine Ridge is probably one of the most documented places ever, and there’s a lot of things that go into telling our stories, and luckily things are changing,” Iron Eyes said.

Other speakers included members of the Women’s Equity Movement, the International Indigenous Youth Council, and the Native American Journalists Association.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture