Thursday, 6 November 2014

A Comparison of the Two Newspapers at Six Nations

If you live at Six Nations or surrounds, you have access to two hard copy newspapers that focus largely or exclusively on Six Nations issues and concerns (although sometimes the adjacent Mississaugas of New Credit get some print space).  Each of these newspapers has online versions - but there are major differences.  What is surprising though is that if you want to keep up with what is happening at Elected Council (SNEC) meetings - good luck, one paper is actively antagonistic toward SNEC, and the other largely ignores them.  Since SNEC is the only legally recognized (by the Federal Government) body representing the Six Nations community, this is a major omission.

"Turtle Island News" (TIN) is the older of the two, and considers itself the ONLY Reserve newspaper with the Editor of TIN going out of her way to emphasize that her competitor is really a Brant County paper, published in a barn somewhere off Reserve.  In trying to encapsulate the outlook of TIN, in my opinion it has become increasingly a mouthpiece of the Hereditary Confederacy Chiefs Council (HCCC) and its professed "development" wing (actually the extortion and enforcement unit) the Haudeosaunee Development Institute (HDI).  The Editor has no tolerance for the Elected Council and, if the printed words are a reflection of true attitudes, then she has thrown her lot in with HCCC attempting to legitimize it to the detriment of SNEC and in the process tossing out the window all journalistic objectivity.

An example of the views of TIN can be seen in the most recent Editorial of 5 November 2014 (p.6) wherein rather ironic (and untrue) statements are made such as occurred after Aboriginal Affairs Minister David Zimmer's attempt to get all parties including HCCC / HDI to attend a meeting of all those who have a stake in the matter.  The message in TIN was that if Ontario did not get with the plan (to allow the Confederacy to become the sole group representing Six Nations), that, Wynne is on the verge of sending Ontario into yet another year of unrest and distrust with First Nations people with this my way or no way attitude.  Since when did trying to be inclusive warrant a statement such as this.  The only correct statement as to who insists on a "my way or no way" attitude is the HCCC / HDI who adamantly refuse to negotiate anything if the legally mandated Elected Council is present.  Anyone who would support having an unrepresentative unelected group who get their sole power mandate from inheritance (the whole system is ripe for nepotism and the favouritism that has torn apart many other First Nations Reserves) cannot be taken seriously.

I have tried very hard to find positive things to say about TIN but have come up dry.  They charge $1.30 per issue at Zehr's in Caledonia where I purchase the newspaper.  Their online edition requires a subscription which is outlandishly priced.  See here for what can be seen without a subscription.  Thus for example members of Six Nations living in say Hamilton or Toronto will be forced to chose whether they can budget for this paper when there is now serious competition.

The competition is in the form of the successor to Tekawanake, which for years was "the" Reserve newspaper.  It folded about two years ago but was quickly replaced by "Two Row Times" (TRT) which incorporated many staff members of Tekawenake.  Unfortunately, they also took on board hard line non - Native Six Nations supporters who are adamantly Communist and Anarchist.  These White people are even found at the editorial level, and their radical views on certain topics have compromised the integrity of the start up newspaper.  For example, one particularly unsavoury article was blatantly anti - Semitic and pro - Palestinian.  This sort of material should never appear in a newspaper geared towards using paper space to inform about Six Nations and more generally First Nations matters.  Also, I have had occasion to level criticism toward writers / reporters who had historical facts grotesquely in error.

However, I have noted of late a more moderate approach in TRT.  In the most recent edition, the Editorial was advocating that the "shell game" (I would term it the "blame game") stop whereby fingers are pointed by say municipal or provincial officials at the Federal Government leaving the ball in their court.  A number of good points were made in this editorial.  Also, there was an article on the evidence put forward by archaeologists and others that the ancestors of the present Native people of Canada came over about 15,000 years ago from Asia via the Bering Strait.  The article actually was quite well written and included data with which I am very familiar.  I agree that there is still much to be learned before we can put our seal of approval on the most popular migration hypothesis.  I never thought that I would support the content of this particular reporter, but there you go.  Furthermore they presented an entirely more objective version of the visit of Aboriginal Affairs Minister David Zimmer to the Onondaga Longhouse.

Also the fact is that at present anyway, TRT is free.  I pick up a copy at Zehr's the same time I pick up my copy of TIN and "The Sachem" (a Haldimand County newspaper) - but I don't have to pay for TIN.  See here for this weeks edition.  In addition, if I am travelling, I can still keep up with what is going on at the Reserve by reading the full articles in TRT which is free online.

So, will I be taking out a subscription to any local newspaper this year?  I am not about to pay good money to be barraged with propaganda and to be dinged a hefty price for it.  In the words of Popeye, "Your pays your money and you takes your choice" - or not pay as the case may be - unless I want to find out what the most radical off - center element is thinking and doing.  On principal I would rather get my news on this subject from almost any other source, and if I miss something, it is unlikely to be that momentous - if it was, the information will appear in other sources.


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