American Indian journalist, entrepreneur, and political activist Paul DeMain of Hayward, Wis., will discuss what he sees as Native America’s growing impact on national and local politics and public policy at a lecture organized by the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, to be held at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 10, in the Petty Auditorium of the Skokie Public Library, 5215 Oakton Street, Skokie, Ill.
An award-winning investigative reporter of Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin and Ojibwe descent, DeMain will deliver the Mitchell Museum’s third annual Dr. Carlos Montezuma Honorary Lecture. The title of his talk is “American Indians and the Tipping Point: No Longer a Miner’s Canary.”
“Native America has a bigger seat at all the tables now,” DeMain said in a telephone interview with the Mitchell Museum. “Tribes are something to be reckoned with.”
In some states, counties, and districts, Native votes can determine the outcome of close elections, he said.
DeMain said he can recall when political campaigns used to ignore Indian reservations. But as residents there have become better educated and more politically aware, that’s changed. “Now, Republicans and Democrats all come here,” he said, referring to the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Reservation in northern Wisconsin, where he lives and works.
A citizen of the Wisconsin Oneida Tribe, DeMain is chief executive and managing editor of independent, privately owned Indian Country Communications, Inc., whose operations include the respected national newspaper News from Indian Country, the online news site IndianCountryNews.net, and other media properties.
Looking back on nearly four decades of covering American Indian news, DeMain will discuss the development of tribal resistance to government “social engineering experiments” and industrial exploitation. He says tribes have created enviable policies for sustainable uses of their natural resources, resisting the short-term lures of jobs and revenues offered by mining and timber conglomerates.
He is an advocate for independent Native American news media protected from the censorship pressures faced by tribal-owned and operated media.
As an investigative journalist, DeMain has been subjected to death threats for his nationally recognized, critical reporting on the American Indian Movement’s armed uprising at Wounded Knee, S.D, in the 1970s. DeMain published information implicating AIM leaders in the murder of a female member suspected of being an FBI informant. He also uncovered evidence suggesting that AIM hero Leonard Peltier killed two FBI agents in 1975, a charge the imprisoned Peltier has long denied.
For his reporting, DeMain received the Wassaja Award from the Native American Journalists Association in 2002. The award recognizes exceptional courage in the line of duty. He also holds a 2003 Ancil Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism, granted by the University of Oregon. The program honors journalists “who demonstrate an extraordinary commitment to ethical conduct, even when faced with economic, personal or political pressure,” according to the university’s website.
He serves on the advisory board of the Sequoyah National Research Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, to which he has donated his collection of papers.
In the political sphere, DeMain was campaign manager for Winona LaDuke, Ojibwe, in her 2000 quest for the vice presidency of the U.S. on the Green Party ticket with Ralph Nader. In the 1980s, DeMain served as adviser on Indian affairs policy to Wisconsin Gov. Anthony S. Earl.
The Mitchell Museum’s Dr. Carlos Montezuma Honorary Lecture, presented each fall, is named for an early 20th-century Native American physician and civil rights crusader who lived and worked in Chicago.
Admission to the lecture at the Skokie Public Library is $20 for the general public, $15 for students, Mitchell Museum members, and tribal members. Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance at the Mitchell Museum.
The independent nonprofit Mitchell Museum is located at 3001 Central St., Evanston. For information, phone (847) 475-1030 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: MitchellMuseum.org.