The following is a story written by John Dechant previously published in the Spring 2014 issue of the UNO Magazine
You won’t find it on any syllabus — yet — but two UNO faculty members have extensive research backgrounds involving the intersection of Native American culture and communication.
Before coming to UNO, Bruce Johansen was a Seattle Times reporter. He was introduced to Native American culture while covering protests against state denial of fishing rights to tribal groups — and was fascinated.
A few years later he wrote his Ph.D. dissertation topic on Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson and their use of Native American ideology in democracy. The dissertation turned into a book, “Forgotten Founders,” published in 1982. That was the same year he began a 31-year career at UNO. Today Johansen has 38 published books and is working on more, including a history of the Muckleshoot tribe near Tacoma, Wash.
Reilly’s interest in Native American themes began as a third-grader browsing Omaha’s Benson library. The interest was cemented when he and his father took a trip to South Dakota and visited the site of the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890. “This was in the 1960s and you could still see the bullet holes in the walls,” he says.
Reilly, who’s also worked for the Omaha World-Herald and the Greeley (Colo.) Tribune, continues to be fascinated with the portrayals of Native Americans in popular culture and hopes to one day create a special topics class at UNO on Native Americans and the media.