Friday, December 31, 2010

Indian Education

The nice thing about attending a liberal arts university is you get the chance to take classes outside of your major. This past fall I took my first Native American Studies class and while it was a challenging the course was rewarding. The class dealt with the post-reservation era in Montana and taking this class was partially for enjoyment. I also took the class to explore the complex issues affecting Montana tribes and this will hopefully make me a better rounded journalist.

Dr. Beck, the chair of the Native Studies department, taught the class and his wealth of knowledge made learning very interesting. We explored the history of each Montana tribe and the contemporary issues playing a role yet today. It was nice to spend time on each tribe and I was surprised at how complex many issues were. Issues relating to water rights and tribal self-determination were especially complex.

During the semester our class gave team presentations on each reservation. We had the individual responsibility of covering an issue unique to our specific reservation. I addressed the epidemic of Indian suicide on the Fort Peck reservation, which is located in Northeast Montana. It was difficult subject matter to tackle but I felt it was a critical issue to understand. My research was quite extensive and this allowed me to put together an awesome PowerPoint.

There are few classes I hate to see end but this was certainly one of those. I learned an incredible amount and have a much greater respect for American Indians. This spring I’m taking another Native Studies class and it deals with the portrayal of Indians in American cinema.

I want to wish everyone a very Happy New Year and all the best in 2011! The year ahead looks to be very exciting and I look forward to sharing it with each of you.

Peace… Mark

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas!

You may have thought my blog was lost in the digital abyss but it is very much alive! The busy fall semester of 2010 is in the books and it was a satisfying experience academically. I’ll begin things here by recapping my start in the professional program at the UM School of Journalism.

I was excited to begin my foray into online reporting but the prospect scared the hell out of me a little too. The class turned out to be a great experience and I had the opportunity to work on a collaborative project for Our class explored food/agriculture issues unfolding in the Rocky Mountain West during the semester. The group I was part of tackled agricultural decline and attempts to revitalize the current situation.

I covered the history and impacts of agricultural decline in eastern Montana and Colorado. It was a daunting task to construct this story but I had tremendous luck in gathering informative sources. The whole story process was invaluable and I was quite happy with how everything turned out.

Our class had five groups that explored different areas of the food economy and our work will appear on, an online news source covering issues in the Rocky Mountain West. It’s exciting that NewWest is giving us the room to run a 5-day series on their web site. I’ll put my story up here when it appears.

My other journalism class was less exciting but it taught the basics of print editing and the extensive AP style method. The experience was tough but in the end I developed skills that will serve me well in the future. I learned that editors do a ton of work and it is something I respect but really don’t have a passion for. Personally I find reporting to be where I would like to focus.

I took a Native American studies class, which I thoroughly enjoyed but more on that after Christmas.

Recently I discovered a new social media tool that is a cross between Facebook and Twitter. It’s called Tumblr and I really like the simple format it uses. I’ll use my Tumblr page to put up stories & photos I find interesting along with some lighter stuff as well. You can view it by visiting:

Well that’s it for now but I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas! Have a safe weekend and I will return in a few days with a wrap on the rest of the fall semester.