Part of the Problem?
[Re: Feature, “Good Medicine,” May 1-7] The Alibi is awesome! But every now and then they really fuck it up.
I find it curious that the Alibi would put an image of a fake medicine man (the story implies Navajo) or someone not at all related to such a serious topic on its cover. The man on the cover doesn't even look Native, let alone Navajo. But I'm going to skip the obvious, because I'm sure many are going to write to the paper this week.
I am assuming since Christie Chisholm did not consult any Navajos while writing that you probably have none that can confirm any part of Langley's story. It is one or the other. At best, the Alibi has helped perpetuate a Carlos Castaneda fantasy-hoax devised by Langley that it might have to retract in embarrassment. At worst, Langley really did spend time at a traditional ceremony and your paper has aided in committing ultimate disrespect to the Navajo patients by nullifying their treatment in exchange for a sensational, new-age story and to help Langley sell some books.
This kind of journalism toward Native America often happens on the East Coast or somewhere else far from here (maybe even in Phoenix), but not here. This is Albuquerque. It just shouldn't happen here.
Also, to Chisholm, I am not sure that you are fully aware of the extended controversy of your article. The universities have worked for centuries to build a strong relationship with Indian people in this country. The universities of the Southwest have attempted to proceed cautiously when it comes to the topics of Indian research. Already, your article has thrown a wrench into the complex dynamics of that relationship as it pertains to UNM; furthering the idea that one would have to go overseas to believe what is already in front of them. And already, since the printing of the issue, the article (not even Langley) has halted and perhaps reversed the progress of this struggling relationship.
Lastly, the timing of your article is perhaps the most troubling and saddening to me. For years now, this time of year is always a very positive time in Albuquerque for Native (and non-Native) folk with the Gathering of Nations, Nizhoni Days at UNM, and other powwows and gatherings. To follow it up with a Great White Hope story about Navajo religion and about witchcraft is infinitely offensive and overall hard to comprehend as a Native person. I could tell you how much it saddens me, but I could probably never convey how much I think it must sadden those Navajos older than me.
Ms. Chisholm, American Indians still exist, and as evident from the previous week's issue, we also read the Alibi (or want to). When did the Alibi become part of the problem?
UNM, Native American Studies
[Re: Letters, “Politics with The Don,” May 1-7] I can't wait to read Don's letters. They are so profound and thought-provoking. His words are like a drug. While on a high of Don's prose, I wondered what would happen if we found out the "Black" in "Black Sabbath" was actually dark blue?
The Latest on Laura Berg
Congratulations to the Alibi! Did you know that the letter that you published from Laura Berg [ Re: “Wake Up, Get Real,” Sept. 15-21, 2005], the VA nurse who criticized the government for its poor health care of returning veterans, eventually led to her winning the new PEN/Katherine Anne Porter First Amendment Award? (See the New York Times Editorial page on April 27, "Laura Berg's Letter." It mentions your paper by name!) And thank you for all your efforts to do this kind of real journalism.
Also, congratulations to Amy Goodman's " Democracy Now!" broadcast from here in Albuquerque, which interviewed Laura Berg on the episode shortly after the Alibi broke the news story (the New York Times editorial also mentions "Mrs. Berg soon boomed out on a [“Democracy Now!”] radio broadcast). This is also part of what earned Laura Berg the First Amendment Award. So never doubt that these “Democracy Now!” broadcasts may play a large part in getting individual citizens' stories and courageous actions recognized and rewarded. Thank you, “Democracy Now!”
Susanna de Falla
[Re: Feature, “Good Medicine,” May 1-7] As a fan of the Alibi, I have to say I am in strong disagreement with the publication of this article because it shows complete insensitivity and lack of understanding of traditional Native cultures. Native American beliefs are not something to be treated so disrespectfully. This type of journalism hurts Native American/non-Native relationships of all kinds because it makes all Belaganas look bad and threatens trust between people that typically takes years to build. Does the Alibi have any traditional Native Americans on the staff? Do you have any on your advisory board? I would suggest that this be one of the first responses to this article. The Alibi (along with all the major media in Albuquerque) did not cover The Longest Walk 2 that crossed New Mexico last month. If you can't help spread important news for Native communities, you should at least learn some sensitivity to the nature of this subject. There were many elder Native Americans at the GON (Gathering of Nations) who have wonderful stories. What you have printed here is voyeurism. My final suggestion is to start reading the Navajo Times as a way to begin to understand how Navajos want to be presented in newspapers. You will learn something.
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