Tim Giago tells Chuck Trimble “don’t be surprised if I knock you on your lying ass”

Chuck Trimble and Tim Giago, right, as boyhood friends
Chuck Trimble and Tim Giago, right, as boyhood friends

It’s not often that two well-known journalists square off over what the other writes. But that’s what’s happening with Lakota writers Tim Giago and Chuck Trimble. Many of us on Facebook have been privy to some of the e-mails shared between Giago and Trimble. I was bit shocked at Giago’s recent e-mail he sent to Trimble. I’ve known Trimble to be a fact-based reporter. Giago, however, has taken issue with Trimble’s reporting. Giago, 75, told Trimble, 74, not to be surprised if he knocked him on his ass the next time he saw him. He also called Trimble an “insignificant nobody.” The vitriol is a little scary. Moreover, it’s ironic considering Giago is giving the HOPE Conference welcome Dec. 18 in Rapid City, S.D. The conference organizers are promoting the event as “healing for our people everwhere, seeking the courage to heal.”

As a journalist, I hope these two men will soon heal their differences. For now, I can’t believe what I’m reading. In time, the real man in this sad scenario will rise as the true and ethical American Indian voice in journalism.  The men’s columns in response to each other can be found on Indianz.com. Or look at my previous post here on Buffalo’s Fire for links to their columns.

Here’s the full script of the e-mail and Facebook comments recently shared by Trimble: 

Below is recent correspondence, via e-mail, between Tim Giago and me following publication of my column on indianz.com “Facts, Truth and Ethics in Native Journalism”. I think they speak volumes on our differences.

In my columns I have not questioned or criticized Mr. Giago out of jealousy, or hatred, or religious zeal, or any other reason he tends to accuse me of. And I have never attacked him personally, although I have poked fun at his foibles. Every column I’ve written about Tim had to do with facts that he has misstated, distorted or exaggerated, and I only write about those I see as abusive to journalistic ethics or offensive to history. If anyone would like to come to my office, I would gladly share every column I have ever written about Tim and I would show where each of my comments about him are verified, most of which are taken from his own past columns, editorials, or books.

Unlike Tim, I will not stop writing about what I see as his abuses of the powerful tools of journalism for his own glorification, vengeance, or gratification. Judge for yourselves.

The following is an e-mail I got from Mr. Giago soon after my column was published on indianz.com, and the bottom one is my response a day later. (I am the Wobbie he refers to, the name which he uses when he wants to embarrass me. It’s a nickname that many people on the reservation know me by, so I don’t mind at all. It’s usually used by close friends, which obviously is not the case in these communications from Tim).

—–Original Message—–

From: Editor Native Sun Weekly <editor@nsweekly.com>

To: cchuktrim@aol.com <cchuktrim@aol.com>

Sent: Tue, Nov 24, 2009 10:07 am

Subject: RE:

“Wobbie: You are such a two-faced liar. I ignored your lying, two-faced apology after reading your email to Phyllis White Eyes and I am going to ignore your latest diatribe. Why are you so jealous of me? You could have done all of the things I did in my life, but your pettiness and lies have hogtied you. Please keep writing all of your bullshit because every where I travel in Indian country you are coming off as a real, genuine asshole. You can’t hurt me and I won’t waste the space returning any of your lying comments. So climb back into your scummy hole where the rats live because you should be real comfortable there with your peers. And if I ever run into you in person, please don’t be surprised if I knock you on your lying ass. Oops! Maybe I shouldn’t do that because to old men fighting over nothing is pretty idiotic. You are such an insignificant nobody and your attacks on me are making you even less than that in the eyes of many Indians. Wake up Wobbie. You are making a complete ass of yourself and what you say – nobody cares.”


From: cchuktrim@aol.com

To: editor@nsweekly.com

Sent: Wed, Nov 25, 2009 8:02 am

Subject: Re:


I waited a while to answer your angry threatening e-mail because I wanted to read it over and think about it. My problem with you Tim is your failure to check facts. I think you could not name one instance of what I write about you being a lie. I am careful to have proof, and most of the proof I have is what you yourself have written. In a letter to the Teton Times, you said that I amna fanatical Catholic, not knowing that I have not been to church in a long, long time, with the exception of funerals. You made a statement but didn’t check the facts.

I had taken an early interest in your unique approach to journalism and have many files of what I consider falsehoods or inaccuracies. I have every issue of the Lakota Times and materials from the Rupert Costo archives that contradict things you write. You are a talented and intelligent person, and I don’t understand why you think you should tell so many untruths, such as the story of giving the name Crusaders to the HRM team. My name was not listed on the letter to the editors from the nine HRM alumni who disputed your claim, but as soon as I read your article I said to myself that the person who named it was Tony Brave, not Tim. That is no big issue, but it demonstrates that you will lie or exaggerate on even the simplest things. It is insulting to the many of us who know the truth. When I apologized to you for mistakenly sending you the letter I intended for Phyllis DeCory, I meant it. But I never promised you or anyone that I would not respond to things in your columns I consider lies or inaccuracies or unethical. I only said that I would refrain from what you are always calling “attacks.”

I am not surprised that some people, perhaps many, think I am jealously attacking you, and think that I am, as you put it, an “asshole.” I accept people’s right to express their opinion of me or my writing. But I will not stop writing on what I see as lies, exaggerations, inaccuracies or unethical actions on your part. I am not a self-styled police of journalistic ethics, but I think I am a serious columnist.


I tremble (no pun intended) at the thought of getting “knocked on my ass,” as Giago threatened to do. He’s 75 years old and I’m 74, and both of us have had quadruple bypass surgery in recent years. But what a fight it would be. Like the Ali-Frazier battles of the 1970s – the “Rumble in the Jungle” in Zaire, and the “Thrilla in Manila” in the Philippines, perhaps this could be the “Battle of the Wheezing Geezers,” pitting Tim “the Pit Chihuahua” Giago against Wobbie “Rez Mutt” Trimble. It would be a one round match with canes or crutches, survivor-take-all, and would be broadcast nationwide on KILI-TV and KINI Radio.

Stay tuned.


Charles “Wobbie” Trimble, Oglala Lakota, was born, raised and superbly educated on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. His “insignificant nobody” life includes being principal founder of the American Indian Press Association in 1970 (forerunner of the Native American Press Association), and executive director of the National Congress of American Indians from 1972-78. He has received four Pulitzers, three H.L. Menken Awards, two Nobel Prizes, and a Partridge in a Pear Tree. He may be reached at cchuktrim@aol.com, but requests that you please refrain from calling him nasty names or threatening him.

Thats’s all for now folks.

Jodi Rave




  1. Unfortunately, both appear more interested at taking potshots at each other than in writing any articles. They have each diminished their own and the others stature.

  2. There was never a day in the 1960s or earlier when I have denied being Lakota, or even pretended that I am not. In fact, I likely would be accused of overdoing it. I truly am Iktomi and a Heyoka. I love Iktomi and Heyoka because both are given the power to ridicule people who think they are better than others, and try to bully them.

  3. like my mother used to say…just stay away from each other. not a good example for two grown men and our young people need examples of good.

  4. kinajin’s remarks are so typical of the “crab” mentality, I often wonder when we are going to get over judging and hating one another and move forward, hopefully my children will witness it in their lifetimes. Thanks for your strength and courage in journalism Chuck. I appreciate it! And thank you Jodi for having this place where we can come and visit! You are both fantastic writers.

  5. You know, I try to act like those nasty epithets, a**hole and such, don’t hurt me, but I must admit that one really hit me hard. If I were called insignificant, it would be acceptable because I know it’s largely true. “Has- been” would have been accurate, but I can accept truth, even harsh truth. But to use a redundancy to describe me, like “insignificant nobody,” that’s cruel. That hurts mightily. I am crushed.

  6. I recently lost my ina in a car accident, we were estranged and I had not spoken to her in over 12 years. I always loved her and apppreciated the good things she did, even while I kept my distance so we did not renew our bickering and fighting over past wrongs.

    I now feel regret at not being the bigger person, though I know we were so alike that conflict seemed inevitable. I just hope that Mr. Giago and Mr. Trimble might both stop their bickering and fighting and work together for the betterment of the Oyate. You both are intelligent accomplished individuals, who have done good things for the Oyate.

    We as a people have been brought to the edge of disaster by in-fighting as individuals, families, and a people. I hope you both would show some wisdom that you should have acquired at this stage of your lives and not be remembered as two mean hateful old men. Which is what it is looking like to some of us.

  7. Mr. Trimble: Although i do not know you, i do applaud you for taking on Giago and his style of journalism; i have always thought he used the press as nothing more than a tool to bolster himself and attack those that he disagrees with. On the rare occcasion that i do read his ramblings i find nothing new or thought provoking. I only find more of the same old same old-Giago talking about himself. Thanks for putting it out there. MY money is on you.

  8. I truly appreciate Mr. Giago’s articles and all that he has created. Without musicians, singers, dancers, artists, and writers/journalists; …… wouldn’this world be “boring? Keep writing your ariticles Tim and I’ll keep reading them.

  9. Great Lessons of Being a Nobody….

    In 1972, not long before I went to Washington to serve as executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, I was taken up on a high hill for hanbleceya – a vision quest.
    In the sweat lodge after I was brought down from the hill, I told the holy men that I didn’t think I had experienced a vision; but I told of my growing feeling of insignificance among the stars and winds at night, and the creatures – some of them very close, and among the hills in the heat of day. I felt alone and frightened at first, but as I stood in prayer over the hours, I became a part of nature, one among them, and I felt at home.
    The holy man said that the experience I told about could be my vision, and that I should think hard about it and try to understand what I was being told. They could not interpret for me, it was up to me to determine. I thought much about it and over time decided that I had achieved a vision after all; that it was the realization that my tearful prayers were answered: “I am nothing, I am pitiful, help me Grandfather, Tunkasila, guide me…”
    Over the years that vision was to guide me for it gave me the attitude that indeed I am insignificant among the people. But I am part of the people, and I must respect them and work as part of them for the good I hope would come from my life. And although I fell away from it many times in my human weaknesses, I tried to keep that pledge that I made to myself; to be a part of any effort and to not think that I am the grand leader or the star of the show.
    In my short experience as a columnist, I have become acquainted with some very good people who are teaching me important things about life. Some of them disagree with me and scold me, but always for some good. These are ikce wicasa, common people, Natives from different tribes. Most of them I have never set eyes upon; I hear from them in my e-mail. There are a few who never give their names, but from their messages, I am getting to know them.
    One of them is a Lakota or Dakota man from California, and he sends me long e-mails, they are deep and I usually have to read them over again to get the messages, which invariably are good things, positive things, wisdom. He lives in the city, and has been through that terrible experience that relocated native peoples know, including the never-ending struggle with alcoholism. I have learned much from him, and I look forward to a long enlightening kinship with him.
    And there is the wisdom of youth that I have been privileged to receive. Several weeks ago I spoke to a group of pharmacy students at Creighton University here in Omaha. Among them were two Lakota young men – one Oglala and the other Sicangu, and a Navajo young woman. The students were apparently required to write an assessment of the talk, and one of the Lakota students’ included these words, which were sent to me by a faculty member:
    “I could tell by the way Mr. Trimble spoke humbly but intellectually he was a man who had done many great things in his life but didn’t think of himself as no better than the next man. He truly was the definition of Ikce Wicasa. This is great to see outside of the religious circles in the real world. Too many people, especially our tribal leaders, don’t embrace this age-old teaching of Ikce Wicasa and don’t practice it in their life. I was told that none of the material things or accomplishments matter in life. If at the end of your time, it was said that you were Ikce Wicasa, then you were a great man and led an accomplished life no matter materials things or outside accomplishments. I was taught that the bottom line is, if you took care of your family, took care of your people, and took care of yourself and did it humbly, you were Ikce Wicasa. Above everything, I strive to be Ikce Wicasa because I am no better than anyone else, and if I am not Ikce Wicasa, I did nothing. Seeing this age-old idea manifested in Mr. Trimble was a much needed breath of fresh air and inspiration in today’s individualistic, greedy society.”
    Whoever this young man is that wrote these words, for I was not told his name, I wish him to know that he has accorded me the greatest honor I could ever receive; and that I shall try in my remaining years to earn it, for I don’t feel that I have yet done so. And I beg his forgiveness for my telling this; an ikce wicasa would not call attention to such a great honor.
    In a very hate-filled e-mail I received from Tim Giago three or four days ago, I was called, among other things, an “insignificant nobody.” It didn’t hurt me at all, for I know it to be true, it is something that I reconciled many years ago as I stood among the stars on that lonely hill of hanbleceya.

  10. I have no problem with these exchanges whether via “private” emails or public postings. They reveal to me the character of these two writers who I have read, sometimes admired, sometimes dismissed in disagreement over the years. But I have never put either on some pedestal. They are people putting out opinions and I can take them or leave them but I will never simply accept what either writes as “truth.”

    But then, I’m a skeptic (not yet a cynic) and a former journalist myself. Please put me out of my misery if anyone should ever take me at face value or consider my words on a par with anything other than my personal opinion or my version of one of many truths or points of view.

    In the meantime, it’s just entertainment. Lousy entertainment. But you get what you pays for.

  11. Today I read about the IRS selling some of our lands. Then, negative information concerning the health care on reservations. A school district not willing to accept a young man because of his hair. Actually it is every day some injustice goes unnoticed. We have come so far since I was a young man back in the 50s. I said before I could care less about personal spats, I just wonder when we will be able to stand up and speak (SCREAM)) with one voice. Just think what Tim Chuck and Jodi could do if they collaborated and spoke for us in a way that the Government would hear.

  12. Another one of my grandfathers perspectives, whom was a contrary in our cheyenne way of life. He spoke of these energies that sometimes collide and in this collision it sometimes hits those of us that are near. so getting back to TiM & Chuck, they both generate not only in native country but to the general public as well this energy be it may, good, bad or indifferent and seemingly has collided. Maybe for good reason and tht reason being we are all human. whatever has built up between them, being on the same path, journalism at its finest, can now add to this energy in a positive way. Already people are expressing and that’s what each needs, that’s feedback. everyone from time to time needs to hear from others if we are doing good or bad no matter how old we get. They don’t have to list their accolades to me they both have all my admiration. I learned in managing my own life that even when you have done something great its between you an the spirits and the credit ought to go to the forever loving creator. I myself can truthfully say that I am the Principal founder of the annual Fort Robinson breakout run that receives high publicity each year there in south Dakota but for years journalists have been misinformed of whom really established the idea of the run itself where and how we got started, whom took care of the logistics to an from nebraska to ensure safety and whom made the call to nike corporation to solicit support as well as meeting billy mills for his support. I have all the material proof. phone logs, board minutes receipts, my pouch that I wear around my neck that I had billy mills sign to seal his promise to come run with us the following year etc. This is just an example of untruths versus truths that journalist have to write about. So I sit back each year as the true founder of Fort Robinson Run and marvel at the fact how much values of my grandparents are instilled in me taking my place as an unsung hero feels more serving to the creator. I know that there are readers out there that have done something that someone else takes credit for in a big way. Lastly I still remember the words of my grandfather, if you have a son or husband or brother you stay in the background and be the quiet strength, letting them be in the forefront. So with that thank-you Tim & Chuck for showing us your human side its never to late to learn from one another good, bad or indifferent.

    • Nicely said Florene. Thanks for reminding us to be humble in our daily lives. And you are right. We all need to hear from others if we are doing good or bad in our lives. I want to thank you for all the work you have done on the Fort Robinson run. Talk again soon I hope. Take care. Jodi

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