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home : opinions : columns June 28, 2016

6/30/2009 1:53:00 PM
Guest column: News welcomes new reporter, John Hopkins

John Christian Hopkins

Oh, where to begin?

It is never an easy thing to introduce yourself to a brand new community. I suppose the first step is to tell you some of the basic stuff about me.

I've had a tough life right form the start. I was barely a minute old when the doctor slapped me. I was like, "Hey, man, what did I do?" Only it came out like "Gagaga, waaah! Goo waaagh!"

But I think he knew I was mad.

In the 40-odd years since that day I have grown used to being overlooked, underappreciated or just plain snubbed. Take People magazine, for example, every year it refuses to select me as its "Sexiest Man Alive." It's pretty obvious - to me, anyway - that People's definition of "sexiest" is different than mine.

Maybe it is because of identifying with those who are overlooked or unappreciated, that I ventured into journalism, where I can tell the stories of people that seldom get told.

During my more than two decades of reporting and editing, I have worked at various newspapers, including USA Today, the Fort Myers (Fla.) News-Press and the Westerly (R.I.) Sun. I used to write a nationally syndicated column for Gannett News Service, and have done freelance work for Indian Country Today, News From Indian Country and Native Peoples magazine.

In 2003 I became the first member of the Native American Journalists Association to win awards in four different writing categories in the same year.

In case you haven't gotten the hint - I love to write. I was born to write! When I was a child I would go to bed hugging books instead of teddy bears.

I am an American Indian - from the Narragansett Tribe of Rhode Island - and perhaps what I do is an extension of traditional native storytelling; instead of the tales being in oral form, I commit them to paper for future generations to share.

In addition to my newspaper career I have written two books - both bestsellers ... um, among my family and friends. They are "Carlomagno" and "Nacogdoches."

While serving on my tribal council, I also founded the tribe's first newspaper. And forget Bonnie Prince Charlie and those British monarchs, I happen to be royalty myself. I am, ahem, a direct descendant of King Ninigret, patriarch of the Narragansett tribe's last royal line. Another of my ancestors was Quadrequina, who was bother to Massasoit and brought popcorn to the first Thanksgiving. (Which reminds me, I think Orville Reddenbacher owes me some royalties.)

On paper, it looks as if I have had a wonderful journalism career. But there are still a few things lacking from my resume. For example, this year makes the 23rd straight year that I failed to win - or even be nominated for - a Pulitzer Prize. What am I, the Susan Lucci of journalists?

I have not yet won a Grammy, an Academy Award or been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. I think the hall of fame is holding that whole steroids thing against me.

I thought I was taking female growth hormones. But people got suspicious when my fingers grew to be as thick as my wrists. While that may have cost me a plaque in Cooperstown, it has allowed me to write a wide variety of stories in a timely and accurate manner.

So the world's loss, is your gain.

At least until I win Powerball ...

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