This morning, at 9:30 a.m. EST, the Morton Country Correctional Center, North Dakota confirmed to Indian Country Media Network that respected journalist and citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna Jenni Monet is being held in custody after her arrest yesterday afternoon, February 1, near Standing Rock Sioux Tribe land, Oceti Sakowin Territory. Ms. Monet, on assignment for ICMN, was apparently swept up in a large police action that resulted in the arrest of approximately 76 people. Her last text message, sent to fellow journalist Mark Trahant, University of North Dakota’s Charles R. Johnson Endowed Professor of Journalism, stated that she feared that she was in danger of arrest due to an impending raid and was “trapped.” ICMN has had no further contact with her, and, along with Trahant, was rebuffed yesterday when it made inquiries as to whether Ms. Monet had in fact been arrested, and if so, on what charge. The question on charges has still not been answered.
Ms. Monet is one of Indian country’s best journalists and documentary filmmakers. Her work has appeared on numerous outlets, including PBS Newshour, PRI The World and Al Jazeera, and she has received numerous awards from the Native American Journalists Association.
“We are looking carefully into the incidents leading to the arrest, to learn what happened and ensure that our journalists’ rights are protected. To arrest and silence our journalists without proper cause would be an assault not only on the freedom of the press, but yet another infringement on the rights of all Natives to live as free and independent peoples,” said ICMN Publisher and Oneida Nation Representative Ray Halbritter. “The events at Standing Rock are why Indian Country Media Network, and other minority media outlets, exist: to give a voice to diverse points of view often drowned out in the mainstream press.”
“Yesterday’s unlawful arrest of Native journalist Jenni Monet by Morton County officers is patently illegal and a blatant betrayal of our closely held American values of free speech and a free press,” said Bryan Pollard, President of the Native American Journalists Association. “Jenni is an accomplished journalist and consummate professional who was covering a story on behalf of Indian Country Today. Unfortunately, this arrest is not unprecedented, and Morton County officials must review their officer training and department policies to ensure that officers are able and empowered to distinguish between protesters and journalists who are in pursuit of truthful reporting.”
As stated in letters to North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenejham, Morton County States Attorney Allen Koppy, and Caption Grueble of the Morton County Sheriff’s Department, ICMN demands the immediate release of Ms. Monet and the dismissal of all pending charges, and for the Morton County Sheriff’s Department and State Attorney General to grant her the consideration and rights due any independent observer working in her capacity as member of the free press.