The list of accomplished individuals who have been made a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is impressive. Tradition requires the honored individuals to write a handwritten letter of acceptance, and to understand how elite this group is, you need only look at the wall at American Academy where AAS letters of acceptance from John Adams, Nelson Mandela, Albert Einstein and others are on display. Now, Indian country’s Mark Trahant can add his name to the list of members.
The AAAS announced its 237th class on April 12; it includes philanthropist and singer-songwriter John Legend, award-winning actress Carol Burnett, chairman of the board at Xerox Corporation Ursula Burns, mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani, and independent journalist Mark Trahant. Some 228 new members were elected and “include some of the world’s most accomplished scholars, scientists, writers, artists, as well as civic, business, and philanthropic leaders,” the AAAS release states.
Trahant received the news while sitting at his desk. He said he’s helping edit an upcoming journal, Daedalus, and thought that the e-mail notification of his honor was just a routine communication. His reaction at realizing he’d been selected, he felt surprise and delight. He also says he felt a bit overwhelmed.
“I think it’s a call to step up my scholarship and creative output,” Trahant wrote in an email to ICMN when asked what the honor means to him. “This is an amazing group of people, both now and in a historical context, so I’ve got to earn my place. This is a moment when solid research and storytelling are so incredibly important, especially in Indian country. I take that charge seriously. Every class has a few journalists and so there are people I know who have been a part of this.
“But it’s rare for someone like me. I am neither a traditional academic nor a traditional journalist. I like the way the Academy’s press release listed me as a multimedia journalist. That’s so true these days where my work can pop up digitally, as a TV story, or in the medium I grew up with, print. But I also try to bring in a mix of original research and context to the pieces I create.”
Trahant maintains his website Trahant Reports, which covers federal government and policy issues that will affect Indian country. According to his site’s biography page, he has been a reporter for PBS’ Frontline series, and the former editor of the editorial page for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He has also worked at The Seattle Times, The Arizona Republic, The Salt Lake Tribune, Moscow-Pullman Daily News, the Navajo Times, Navajo Nation Today, and the Sho-Ban news. He has been a frequent contributor to Indian Country Media Network as well. He is also the author of The Last Great Battle of the Indian Wars and Pictures of Our Nobler Selves. He is co-author of Lewis & Clark through Indian Eyes.
An induction ceremony for the 237th class will be held October 7 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The AAAS was founded in 1780 and is one of the country’s “oldest learned societies and independent policy research centers, convening leaders from the academic, business, and government sectors to respond to the challenges facing the nation and the world.”