UNITY hosts first regional summit in Indian Country

Posted by Dalton Walker on 05/06/2015

American Horse School students and NAJA members gather at Pine Ridge for storytelling workshops

#Unity4Lakota video by NAJA member and speaker Taté Walker

ALLEN, S.D. – Smiles and laughter filled the Allen Youth Center on a recent Saturday on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwestern South Dakota.

The smiles and laughter came from 30 or so elementary-aged students learning how to cartoon from two of the best – Ricardo Caté and Lalo Alcaraz, both syndicated cartoonists.

Caté and Alcaraz, along with journalists from across the country, including members of the Native American Journalists Association, visited the Oglala Lakota community May 2 as part of the UNITY: Journalists for Diversity Regional Summit. More than 70 people participated.

The summit was planned just weeks after 57 children from Allen’s American Horse School were racially harassed and doused with beer at a January hockey game in nearby Rapid City, the state’s second largest city and a border town to Pine Ridge. Many of the victims from that night took part in the summit.

UNITY President Russell Contreras said Allen was a perfect place to launch the organization’s new effort to visit areas of the country facing challenges and that are often overlooked.

“We came to help the Lakota people tell their own story,” Contreras said. “I think in a few months, you are going to start seeing more stories originating from here and a more engaged community. This is just a start.”

The day-long summit also included workshops for adults on social media, public records and starting a media business. Speakers and attendees came from eight different states.

NAJA board member Dalton Walker helped lead the social media workshop and shared social media updates throughout the day.

“NAJA commends Russell Contreras and UNITY for its successful summit in Indian Country,” Walker said.

Speakers included freelance journalist and former Lakota Country Times editor Karin Eagle, freelance journalist Taté Walker, Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star reporter Kevin Abourezk, Redbird Media owner Art Coulson, Associated Press reporter Felicia Fonseca and IRE/NICAR training director Megan Luther.


Cartoonist Ricardo Cate takes a selfie with students from the American Horse School in Pine Ridge, S.D., where NAJA members, journalists and storytellers gathered for the first UNITYJournalists for Diversity Regional Summit May 2, 2015. Photo by Dalton Walker / NAJA

Twitter embed with #Unity4Lakota