Friday, May 06, 2005

Red Lake : Same Country, Different Nation

( - On March 21, after 16-year-old Jeff Weise killed nine people on the Red Lake Indian Reservation and then committed suicide, the local and national media wasted no time delving into the pathos. The story arc conformed to a now-familiar pattern. The initial round of coverage was devoted mainly to eyewitness accounts and what mordant German media folk call widow-shaking. Then the attention shifted to the matter of paramount importance: developing a profile of the killer.

But some reporters also focused considerable attention on the place where the shootings occurred. The Red Lake reservation is among the most isolated and violent corners of Minnesota, a place that is in many regards unlike any other in the state. For evidence, reporters needed to look no further than mountains of studies compiled over the years about Red Lake youth and their endemic problems with poverty, poor academic achievement, and substance abuse.

For those who follow Indian country, such dismal litanies are familiar....


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