Timothy “Tim” Giago

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A Celebration of Life for 88-year old noted Native American journalist Timothy “Tim” Giago Jr will be held Monday, August 22, 2022 from 11-5:00 at the Mother Butler Center in Rapid City, SD, with traditional Lakota services by Rick Two Dogs. 

A meal will be served afterwards.

Burial is Tuesday, August 23, at 10:00 at the Black Hills National Cemetery in Sturgis, SD

Timothy Antoine Giago Jr “Nanwicakciji” ~He Who Stands Up For Them~ was born on July 12, 1934 in Kyle, SD to Timothy Giago, Sr. and Lupita (Tapio) Giago. Timothy made his journey to the Spirit World on July 24, 2022 surrounded by his wife, Jackie and daughters, Teri and Denise, at the Monument Health Hospital in Rapid City, SD.

Tim Giago was a member of the Oglala Lakota Tribe and attended elementary and high school at the Holy Rosary Indian Mission. Upon completing his high school education, he enlisted in the United States Navy during the Korean conflict in 1951 and was honorably discharged in 1958.

He attended San Jose Junior College in San Jose, CA, under the GI Bill, then transferred to the University of Nevada at Reno where majored in business with a minor in journalism. 

Tim later was awarded the prestigious Nieman Fellowship in Journalism to Harvard University for the years of 1990-1991 and he eventually held honorary Doctoral Degrees from Bacone College in Oklahoma, Nebraska Indian Community College at Winnebago, and Sinte Gleska University at Rosebud, SD.

In 1981, Tim founded the weekly Lakota Times on the Pine Ridge Reservation, the only independent Indian newspaper in country. The paper withstood fire bombs and had its windows shot out on three separate occasions while Tim received many death threats and one attempt on his life. 

 Tim spent 18 years as publisher and editor, re-naming the paper “Indian Country Today” in 1992 and building it into the largest independent Indian newspaper in America before selling it in 1998. 

 He started the Lakota Journal in 2000 and served as its editor and publisher until retiring in July of 2004. He couldn’t stay retired and spent the final years of his life as the owner of Native Sun News Today, the largest weekly newspaper in South Dakota, 

 It was voted The Best of the Dakotas weekly by the South Dakota and North Dakota Newspaper Associations last year, and this year won the General Excellence Award as the best in South Dakota.

Tim was also the founder and first president of the Native American Journalists Association in 1984. The year before, he’d sent letters to every Indian newspaper he could find, asking them if they would be interested in forming a Native American Press Association. 

He then worked with Journalism Professor Bill Dulaney of Penn State to raise money to hold the first meeting of Indian Journalists at Penn State. Tim was elected as the first President of the Association when it was formally assembled on the Choctaw Nation the next year. NAJA celebrated its 34th anniversary in 2018.

An editorial by Tim challenging Republican Governor George Mickelson of South Dakota to proclaim 1990 a Year of Reconciliation to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Massacre at Wounded Knee was accepted by the Governor and 1990 was proclaimed the Year of Reconciliation between Indians and Whites.

That same year an editorial by Giago challenged Gov. Mickelson to replace Columbus Day with Native American Day. The legislators voted in favor of it and South Dakota became the only state in the union to celebrate Native American Day as a state holiday.

Two decades later, Tim formed a 2010 Unity Committee and petitioned another Republican governor, Mike Rounds, to proclaim 2010 as the Year of Unity between Indians and whites. Rounds agreed and signed the proclamation on February 19, 2010. 

Since that signing, several events have been held in South Dakota to bring Indians and whites together. The Central States Fair, the Black Hills Powwow and the Lakota Nation Invitational Tournament have all been dedicated to the Year of Unity.  

Racism is still a recurring problem in South Dakota, though, and Tim devoted his remaining years in making an all-out effort to stamp it out. 

Tim was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame in 1994. He also became the first Native American ever to be inducted into the South Dakota Newspaper Hall of Fame on November 10, 2007. In July of 2013 he was inducted into the Native American Journalists Association Hall of Fame.

He has received many professional awards including the H.L. Mencken Award for Editorial Writing from the Baltimore Sun in 1985, the University of Missouri School of Journalism’s Honor Award for Distinguished Service in Journalism in 1991, the Golden Quill Award for Outstanding Editorial Writing by the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors in 1997, and Best Local Column by the South Dakota Newspaper Association for the years of 1985 and 2003,

Tim was awarded the South Dakota Education Association/National Education Human and Civil Rights Award in 1988, the Great Spirits Award from the Navajo Institute of Social Justice in September of 2004, and the Native American Journalists Association/Medill School of Journalism Milestone Achievement Award in September of 2017

The Harvard Foundation honored him in 1991 for his contributions to the growth of American Indian newspapers and Indian Journalism. He was also honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Native American Journalists Association and received the Jay Silverheels Achievement Award for building a successful newspaper business. 

Tim’s weekly television show, The First Americans, made its debut on KEVN in Rapid City, SD, in 1975 to become the first weekly television show on a commercial television station hosted and produced by an American Indian

His books include: The Aboriginal Sin and Notes from Indian Country Volumes I and II. He also edited and helped write The American Indian and the Media.  Children Left Behind, published in August of 2006 by Clear Light Book Publishing, Inc. of Santa Fe, NM, won the Bronze Medal from the Independent Book Publishers. 

At one time, Tim’s weekly column appeared in the Argus Leader, Mitchell Daily Republic, Yankton Press, Dakotan, Rapid City Journal, Custer Country Chronicle, and the Aberdeen American News, all South Dakota newspapers.

Tim served on many boards including three years on the Freedom Forum Board of Advisors with Allen Neuharth, founder of USA Today, and on the Running Strong for America Board with Billy Mills, the winner of the 10,000 meter Gold Medal at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

Tim appeared on national television on shows such as Nightline, the Oprah Winfrey Show, and NBC News with Tom Brokaw. He was also featured in many magazines such as Newsweek and People.

Tim lectured on Indian issues at many colleges and universities including Harvard, MIT, UCLA, University of Illinois, Boise State, Chadron State, Bacone College, Nebraska Indian Community College, Florida A&M, University of Colorado, Dine’ College on the Navajo Nation, the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, South Dakota State University, and Miami of Ohio University to name a few.

Timothy is survived by his loving wife of almost 25 years (Aug. 22, 2022), Jackie Giago; children, Barbara Washam, Troy Louise Giago, Lana (Jason) Grove, Lora (Michele) Tabor, Michele Hudson, Theresa Giago, Denise Giago, Timothy David Giago, Marie Giago, Lisa (Joe) Slaven, Sharri Lea (Jim) Olson-Collar, Andres “Buzzy” Torres, Sr., Andres “Andy” Torres, Jr., Richard “Sonny” Torres, Trieny Roman, Gladys Tapio, Theresa Tibbitts, Christy Tibbitts, Joey & Shirley Garnette, Eugene (Cindy) Giago, and Warren (Pam) Giago; sister, Lillian Lanum of Vallejo, CA; and numerous Nieces, Nephews, Grandchildren and Cousins.

Timothy was preceded in death by his parents, Timothy A. Giago, Sr. and Lupita Tapio-Giago; daughter, Roberta Giago; son, Earl Hicks II; and siblings, Mary Jane, Sophie, Tony, Ethel and Shirley Giago.

Honorary pallbearers will be Timothy D. Giago, James Davies Giago, Taylor Gunhammer, Andres Torres, Sr., Dan Tribby and All Friends & Relatives.

Arrangements entrusted with Sioux Funeral Home of Pine Ridge, SD

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