EDITORIAL: Protecting your freedom of speech

by Jul 13, 2020OPINIONS


Cherokee One Feather Editorial Board


Tribal Council heard the Cherokee One Feather Editorial Board on an ordinance change on Thursday, July 9 that will further protect the rights of free speech and free press.

The Board proposed that the One Feather Editor position answer directly to the Executive Committee administratively. Regarding termination or transfer of an Editor, the Principal Chief, Vice Chief, and two-thirds of the Editorial Board would have to concur before any action could be taken against the Editor.

At first glance, this does not seem like very much of a change, but it will further protect the Cherokee One Feather and staff from any potential future political pressure.   This change will give the staff the confidence necessary to continue to report truthfully and fully to the community regardless of the intentions of future politicians.

One of the issues hindering the Cherokee Code is the lack of substantive protections or repercussions for violating the Code. In earlier legislation, the One Feather asked and received amendments to eliminate vagueness and codify a course of action to address political violations of the Free Press Act.

The legislation passed by Council on Thursday will permit the Editor of the newspaper, who is charged with approving story assignments and final copy, to use the Society of Professional Journalist Code of Ethics, the mandate of Chapter 75 of the Cherokee Code, and the policies set forth by the Editorial Board, to follow his best judgement in his or her duties without fear of termination or transfer.

The One Feather has enjoyed an unprecedented period of support by both the legislative and executive branch for free speech and press. This legislation provides guidance for the future, for such a time when government has conflict with the ideas of free speech.

The legislation simply codifies what is already happening between the government and the One Feather.

We, at the One Feather, appreciate the support of the Executive Office and the Tribal Council, and the incredible readers and tribal community who find value in the paper that we produce. We were amazed as we reduced our print presence over the course of the ongoing pandemic, how the community, locally and nationally, shifted to the electronic edition and readership continued to grow exponentially. We feel that it is your confidence in us that has brought us to this very important milestone in the newspaper’s history.

This change will not affect the way we do business. In fact, it provides guarantees that we may continue to provide honest, unbiased, true reporting to our community and to the thousands of readers that we serve. When tribal members are doing historical research a century into the future, we want them to come to the One Feather archives and see them as the most factual documentation of Cherokee history available. Those are our vision and mission statements. It is our commitment to you.