Andy Laverdure responds to the North Dakota editorial, "Opportunity for Dialogue Squandered." The editorial followed the Turtle Mountain Chippewa banning Rob Port from tribal land.
Open letter to Tony Bender, president of the North Dakota Newspaper Association
By Andy Laverdure, Turtle Mountain Chippewa tribal member
Your most recent article decrying the banishment action taken by the Turtle Mountain Tribe against Rob Port is off mark. You state that the action “did more to discredit the tribal council than it did to discredit Port." How so?
You misconstrue the intent of the banishment action. If you actually lived on the reservation and witnessed or experienced the hurt and harm caused not only to the tribe itself, but to tribal residents (Indian and non-Indian), you would realize that the banishment action was necessary and appropriate. The action primarily served to bring the issue to the forefront and to spotlight the tribe’s disgust at the insult.
The banishment action does not restrict Rob Port’s free speech in any way whatsoever. Can you tell me how this is possible? Rob still has his blog site. He still works with Steve Cates and the Dakota Beacon. He still apparently and appallingly has the ears of the North Dakota Newspaper Association.
In your article, Mr. Bender, you state “a real opportunity to educate and refute any misconception is being squandered” and that tribal membership should “use this opportunity to tell this story from the perspective of the tribe." You let me know where the story can be told, who should tell the story, and how it should be told.
If the tribe didn’t take drastic measure, do you even think anyone in your news world would be showing any interest? Most North Dakota newspapers have always shown distaste for Indian issues. Selected news is usually negative, except for positive input from individuals like Dorreen Yellow Bird at the Grand Forks Herald.
There have been many occasions where tribal people have tried to tell their story, but no one would listen. Who makes the decisions in the state relative to what is newsworthy? Not tribal members, that’s for sure.
It may come as a surprise to you, but the US Constitution applies only sporadically to Indian tribes. Tribes have their own laws and have every right to apply those laws as they see fit. In this case, the Turtle Mountain Tribe saw fit to banish Rob Port for the terror he caused to the tribe and the tribe’s membership. The article and the ensuing battle that occurred in the sayanythingblog site caused a great deal of consternation and emotional harm to tribal membership. The harm cannot be adequately described, but it was great. No one seems to care about that aspect of this story; after all, those negatively affected are only a bunch of Indians. As I asked before, and will continue to ask, where is the outrage about the article from the non-tribal voices in our state? The article brought shame onto the whole state, not only Indian Reservations.
(Comment two) To the editor
From: Andy Laverdure
Tony Bender, president of the North Dakota Newspaper Association argues the importance of free speech and the First Amendment in his May 25, 2007 opinion article to various outlets in North Dakota.
Mr. Bender states that “debate often makes us wiser and sometimes changes hearts and minds”. I certainly hope so.
When you enter http://www.sayanythingblog.com/, you can use key words to search the site in the upper right corner of the page. If you type in “Indian Reservations” for example, you will be taken to a list of all threads that discuss Indian Reservation related issues. This is an important tool to use for tracking issues.
If you type “Manhart” into search, you will find pornography. The article, titled: “Air Force Sgt. Michelle Manhart Suspended While Military "Investigates" Playboy Spread
(With Pics)”, dated January 11, 2007 is written by Rob Port. The article has an update at the bottom of the page that states "Thanks to a helpful reader, if you want to see Sgt. Manuhurt's pictorial click here, here and here. Investigation complete". Please note the new spelling of the name Manhart. The click here references are blue and take you to the nude pictures. These pictures display full frontal nudity.
KXNET.com syndicates the sayanythingblog site. KXNET includes: KXMB, Bismarck; KXMA, Dickinson; KXMC, Minot; and KXMD, Williston. Syndication means these stations sponsor and support Rob Port and his sayanythingblog site. You need to contact these stations to see if they support nudity and pornography.
The North Dakota Republican Party also supports the sayanythingblog site and has a link calling the sayanythingblog site “Interesting”. The Dakota Beacon, an extension of the Republican Party lists the sayanythingblog site as “North Dakota’s most popular blog” and has Rob Port as one of its contributors. Steve Cates, publisher of the Dakota Beacon, is also Chairman of the North Dakota Family Alliance, an organization that espouses integrity and a Christian statement of faith. Each of these entities, the NDGOP and the Dakota Beacon support and promote the Rob Port blog site. Do they also support and promote pornography?
When you enter the sayanythingblog site, there is no notification to anyone entering that the site contains nudity and pornography. Anyone under the age of 18 can enter the site. Parental blocks? Those can only be made when parents are aware.
Now, I ask, how does pornography affect free speech at the blog site? A friend of mine has stated “people who live in glass houses…”
Tony Bender's editorial:
"Opportunity for Dialogue Squandered"
by Tony Bender