Indigenous Invisibility

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By Casey Bukro

Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists.

Chicago has an American Indian population of 13,337.

Roughly half of them are female and half are male, and the median age of both sexes is 30.

Of 4,240 American Indian homes, 2,769 are led by families. The population of those living alone is 1,128. Some of the families are led by females with no husband present, and some by males with no wife present. Three or more generations live in 364 homes.

These U.S. Census Bureau statistics begin to tell untold stories, untold because they are part of a national pattern of overlooking American Indian communities.

This is a story told by Cynthia-Lou Coleman and Jackleen de La Carpe in a Poynter Institute report saying that coverage of indigenous communities “is sporadic, uneven and barely visible.” This invisibility, says their story, “has a disturbing consequence: it becomes a form of erasure.”

The Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics urges journalists to “boldly tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience. Seek sources whose voices we seldom hear.”

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The Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists was founded in 2001 by the Chicago Headline Club (Chicago professional chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists) and Loyola University Chicago Center for Ethics and Social Justice. It partnered with the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2013. It is a free service.

Professional journalists are invited to contact the Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists for guidance on ethics. Call 866-DILEMMA or ethicsadvicelineforjournalists.org.

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