Albion Monitor /Commentary


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Bear Lincoln Murder Trial

This is to thank you for your extensive web-based coverage of the Bear Lincoln trial. At this point, I hope that the community that was first so divided, then finally shocked by this ordeal, can heal.

I also hope that Bear continues to serve as a positive figure, and completely turns away from some of the black spots in his past. In my opinion, very few people are strong enough to go through this sort of ordeal, and fewer still are able to be exonerated by the force of the truth. Mr. Lincoln has built a rare credibility, and I get the feeling he will use that for the betterment of his community, and that also the community as a whole seems to be taking a hard look at themselves.

Polarization of this issue into "Native" vs."dominant culture" or "law enforcement" vs."the devious and unruly" is a temptation that some of the other media vehicles have found hard to resist, it would seem. Your detailed coverage has provided a way to help understand this complex and difficult issue and permits me to emerge with a sense that the system can work.

However, although this is mainly a victory "for our system," there is an aftermath. One facet that has not been focused on as much is that there are two men dead, and two women mourning. While I am relieved that the truth has set Bear Lincoln free, I must also wonder how Ms.Davis feels, being led to believe that her husband's killer was in custody: leaving something to be desired of the system that it sounds like her husband served proudly.

Mike Mc Morris (Maryland)

I am delighted with the resource pages and the depth of news coverage. Especially the Bear Lincoln trial, which I have printed out for an Apache friend currently in prison. (Unfortunately the censors won't let him receive the pages, but I'll have them when he is free.)

Hey, I also save $65 a year on Cockburn since I don't have any use for the "new" NATION, which had whittled his column down to near nothing. If I could figure some way of using your pages in the birdcage, I'd cancel the Press Hypocrite as well.

Donna-Lee Phillips (Sonoma County)

I have been enjoying your report on Bear Lincoln case for the last two years and am using the case in my research on jury selection and the criminal trial. I testified in early March with respect to jury compositional challenges and am very interested in community reactions as well as reactions by law enforcent on the verdict.

Is there any other news in terms of the reaction by both community and defense counsel? Any angry reaction, for example, from law enforcement?

Hiroshi Fukurai (Santa Cruz)

The only official comment from law enforcement officials has been Sheriff Tuso's press release charging the Press Democrat with bias. That newspaper has since printed a handful of letters, most of them blasting the verdict as unfair.

In early November, the Monitor will present a special feature describing how the jury reached its decision and how the experience has transformed some of them into activists for Native causes.

-- Editor

Looking For Family

My name is Joni Miller and I am a Wailaki indian. I have been trying to get information on the last massacre at Big Flat. My great-grandmother was a baby at that time (1850's) and was put adrift in a small basket, where she was found by white people and raised by them. They gave her the name of Ellen (last name unknown). Ellen married a white man, Daniel Andrew Sutherland, and they had at least one daughter named Dora Sutherland. She later married a Thomas Thurman and they had several children. some of them named Dave, Ida and Leona. Leona was known around Laytonville and Round Valley as Oni.

Ida was my grandmother; she married into the Miller family and my father was William Miller, also a Wailaki indian. At this time I am looking for a cousin of mine named Star that is believed to be in the area. All of my family elders that are known to me are dead, but if anyone can give me information about Ellen Sutherland or the whereabouts of Star, please contact me at or write to 8208 Cottonball Way, Sacramento CA. 95828.

Joni Miller

Reporter's Free Speech Rights

[Editor's note: The statement below is from Sandy Nelson, a journalist who has been fighting a free speech battle against her publisher (McClatchy) which barred her from reporting because of her off-duty political activities.

The suit described here was filed by the ACLU in 1993. After losing her appeal in the Washington State Supreme Court -- which found that state law protecting workers from employment harassment due to their involvement in electoral issues does not apply to newspapers -- her defense team appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which earlier this month refused to hear the case.]

My defense committee and I are angered but not surprised that the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear my case against The News Tribune of Tacoma, Washington. This refusal leaves newspaper reporters in Washington state without the same free-speech and political guarantees as their readers and publishers.

I will keep speaking out against publishers' unconstitutional attacks on reporters, and someday when a fair Supreme Court hears the issues, a majority of justices will surely reject TNT's absurd assertion that the civil liberties of an individual reporter could interfere with freedoms of the owners of the presses. My political activism has never hindered the publication of the paper or dissemination of its line, yet I am held up as a great danger to journalistic objectivity. This is ridiculous.

Nelson vs TNT, et al, was a cutting-edge battle to stop employer retaliation against workers who used their First Amendment rights. From the beginning, the case received solid labor backing from the Washington State Labor Council, Newspaper Guild International, and dozens of unions, including AFSCME, which represents 1.3 million US workers. And it received the historic backing of the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, which in the past always defended the publishers' freedom of speech. This time the ACLU proclaimed that publisher rights could not smash employee rights.

In 1990 I spent my off-duty hours working on an effort to preserve a Tacoma law that protected lesbians and gays from discrimination in employment and housing. When that law was lost, I participated in a citizen initiative to create a state law for the same purpose. Today, I continue to fight for the employment rights of lesbians and gays by supporting Initiative 677.

The News Tribune demanded that I abstain from all political activity and moved me from my education beat to the copy desk where I lost my byline and reporting career. With help from the Newspaper Guild, I filed a suit before the National Labor Relations Board that resulted in a final decision that the NLRB is not responsible for protecting workers' constitutional rights.

My lawyers, defense committee and I are very proud of what we accomplished in the past seven years:

  • We persuaded the Washington State Supreme Court to uphold the state's Fair Campaign Practices Act, which bars employers from retaliating against workers for their political activism. We will continue to inform Washington workers about the Act and urge them to use it for political self-defense.
  • We took every opportunity to publicly expose media "objectivity" as a myth and marketing tool. We will continue to denounce such hypocrisy and join others who are opposing the US media monopoly.
  • And we built the foundation for the next reporter who steps up to continue this good fight.

Sandy Nelson

The Sierra Club's Ugly Racial Tilt

I think it was either Norman Soloman or Noam Chomsky who said "the more educated an individual is the more indoctrinated they are." Thanks for pointing this out about the Sierra Club.

Sylvia Hayes (Michigan)

You Betcha

Since Diana took Dodi to see her psychic on Aug 12th and since she had personal astrologers, one for 8 years who said Diana had a dream about a burning car seat (on CBS's Good Morning Show), maybe you should look into the possibility that spirit beings are responsible for her death.

Now most pyschics are full of BS and their predictions are way of the mark. But some few predict what actually happens on the day it happens. I don't know if people realize this but in order to predict something that happens, you have to have contact with power that can MAKE it happen. If it is a death, the psychic would be an accessory to the crime of murder.

Harold Reimann

Albion Monitor Issue 37 (

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