While checking out his critique of our Congressional delegation’s focus on repealing the estate tax, I noticed that KSOO’s Rick Knobe is also trying to get information about the rash of youth suicides on South Dakota’s Indian reservations. Knobe wanted to raise awareness of the issue by interviewing an Indian Health Service employee about that agency’s anti-suicide programs on the reservations. However, he found the IHS bureaucracy resisting freedom of the press:
I received this from an employee of IHS in Aberdeen:
The process goes as the following, the CEO must first approve for this interview. Once approved I will work with the reporter and get any additional information. Since this will be put out to the public, I will need all interview questions in advance. This will go to the Area Director for approval and then up to HQ.
If this interview is done on your own time, without any information provided by the Indian Health Service nor Indian Health Service is mentioned, you do not need any approval from this agency as this will be your own personal interview NOT including Indian Health Service. Therefore, is this a topic that will require Indian Health Service information? Data?
In the 30 years I have spent interviewing government people on the radio, I have NEVER had to supply written questions in advance!
I am frustrated, angry, and mostly sad. Frustrated at the bureaucratic nature of the IHS. Angry because you will not be able to hear about this most important story. I am not willing to put myself under the thumb of Indian Health Service protocols [Rick Knobe, “Indian Health Service Stymies Information Flow on Youth Suicide,” KSOO Radio, 2015.04.23].
One would think that Indian Health Service would be keenly interested in putting its best face forward, demonstrating that the federal government can respond effectively to a public health crisis in Indian Country, as well as getting more information out to tribal families about services that are available to help them combat this plague of suicides. But there Knobe and I go thinking again.