Negotiating Stronghold Table: Figuring the Badlands in National and Local News
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In 2012, the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the National Park Service published their joint proposal to create a Tribal National Park in the South Unit of the Badlands National Park. In this study I compare the narrative told by two nationally recognized papers, The New York Times and The Washington Post, and two locally based papers, The Rapid City Journal and The Lakota Country Times. While the stories told by the national newspapers square with one another and those told by the local sources are similar as well, the narrative represented by the national papers is entirely dissimilar from the local narrative. I then compare the stories told by media in the mid-2010s to stories told by the media in the 1890s and the 1970s, concerning interactions between the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the federal government. In each instance, national newspapers rely primarily on already-established characterizations of the members of the tribe. The connections between the perceived reality of the American public concerning the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890, the occupation of Wounded Knee in 1973, and the vote to reject the proposed Tribal National Park in 2015 show that racial reconciliation is a cyclical process that has yet to be resolved. While the way that national newspapers figure the events within Badlands National Park has value because it shows the way that Americans figure themselves within a narrative, it restricts the ability to utilize real data to practically solve present problems, prolonging a cycle of ineffective communication.