Five Minutes With Amy Goodman

By Christine Trudeau

Investigative journalist, co-founder and host of the radio and television program Democracy Now, Amy Goodman, is one of the most trusted faces in independent journalism today. Goodman has interviewed a wide range of voices across the globe: established thinkers, activists, politicians, and artists such as Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Gore Vidal, Dennis Banks, Julian Assange, and Howard Zinn, to name a few. She has also authored several books, the most recent being The Silenced Majority: Stories of Uprisings, Occupations, Resistance, and Hope. Goodman says, she goes “where the silence is” and this includes covering Indian Country. Indigenous issues have gone largely ignored by both mainstream and independent media, and The Chronicle sat down with Goodman and began by talking about her coverage of Native issues, particularly the Key Stone XL Pipeline and it’s affects on Native people.

Democracy Now has been covering the climate change conferences. We were at Copenhagen, Durban, Cancun, and the Bolivian climate change conferences. At all the conferences we interviewed indigenous people because when it comes to environmental issues, and the Key Stone XL in particular, indigenous people are leaders in these movements. We are in a hundred city tour and this past Monday we broadcast from Ft. Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. Ft. Lewis College is a non-tribal college which graduates more Native American students than any four year college in the United States. On that day it was what the federal government calls “Columbus Day” but there they were honoring the Day of the Americas. We talked to Noel Altaha who is with the White Mt. Apache Tribe as well as Esther Belin who is a professor at Ft. Lewis College who is with the Navajo Nation. We talked about what Christopher Columbus has meant with the idea that he had discovered the “New World.” So, issues like that. We were really excited to be broadcasting on that day there.

And you interviewed Dennis Banks as well on that day?

Dennis Banks was in New York, where we usually are and he was there for the Russel Tribunal in Palestine, but we talked to him about his own experience growing up with the Indian Boarding Schools, feeling his parents didn’t love him because he was there for years and they never wrote to him but in fact his daughter is doing this film on him now and discovered in the federal government archive a shoebox filled with letters. His mother had written him these letters that he had never seen as well as one letter that she wrote to the headmaster of one of theses schools which had a five dollar bill in it. She said “please if you take this, please, could I have my son?”

Do you think, now that you’ve covered this, that you might cover more native issues in the future?

Yes, like tomorrow. We’re going to Los Alamos (New Mexico), the birthplace of the Nuclear Age, where we’ll be interviewing a dissident scientist who worked at Los Alamos Labs and environmentalist and a young Native American woman. Because you can’t talk about the dawn of Nuclear Age without talking about uranium mines, which is largely done on reservations.

Taking that and shifting gears slightly, in terms of war, how do you think the war between the United States and the Indigenous peoples of this country have been covered? How that relates and ties into a number of other communities within this country that have been under or misrepresented in media? And how do you think these voices and issues can be covered in the mainstream and independent media in the future?

I think that’s a very good question. As I always say, this term “terror” has been introduced to the mainstream and has been used much more frequently since September 11th,   when 3,000 people were killed in an instant. But, I always say while that was a horrific act, 3,000 people gone in one moment, it’s not the first time terrorism has come to US soil. Ask any African American about slavery. Ask any Native American about what’s happened in this country. But, it was a horrific moment. And you are correct, we don’t learn in school, in our history books, the true story about what’s happening in this country today, as Americans, and we should. That’s also our role as journalists, to go to where the silence is.

One last question. What is your favorite place to eat in Santa Fe?

The only place I really get to eat is the hotel, IF we get to eat there, and that’s the Hotel Santa Fe. Which is the only Native owned hotel in Santa Fe. We’re really honored to stay there when we come here.

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