Indian Country Today has a new owner.
The National Congress of American Indians transferred ownership interests in Indian Country Today, LLC to IndiJ Public Media on March 26, 2021.
The news enterprise was donated to NCAI by the Oneida Indian Nation in October 2017. Indian Country Today operated as an independent limited liability company owned by NCAI and will now operate as an independent company owned by IndiJ Public Media, an Arizona nonprofit corporation.
“This is a new day for ICT, which has a long history as a premier source of news for and about Indigenous communities, written and produced by Indigenous journalists,” said Karen Lincoln Michel, Ho Chunk, president and CEO of IndiJ Public Media. “As IndiJ Public Media’s name implies, our focus remains on Indigenous journalism while emphasizing our expansion into broadcasting.”
IndiJ, a combination of the words “Indigenous” and “journalism” and pronounced in-Didge, was incorporated as a nonprofit corporation in Arizona in November 2020 and is awaiting approval of its 501(c)(3) application from the IRS.
“We are grateful to the NCAI for stepping in to save Indian Country Today. When the news site went dark, there was a huge void in Indian Country,” said Mark Trahant, Indian Country Today’s editor.
Trahant, Shoshone-Bannock, was hired in 2017 by NCAI to bring the publication back to life after an “indefinite hiatus” because it operated at an "enormous—and unsustainable—financial loss," according to Indianz.com from the time.
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“This is an exciting time for Indian Country Today to become fiscally independent and to continue its tradition of an autonomous free press. I have the utmost confidence in Mark Trahant’s ability to successfully lead this new media endeavor in its next phase of growth,” said NCAI President Fawn Sharp. “NCAI has supported ICT in its quest for independence the last three and a half years and will continue to be an important ally moving forward in achieving our shared objective of educating the public about American Indian and Alaska Native tribal nations.”
In the past 40 years, Indian Country Today has evolved from the weekly The Lakota Times founded by Tim Giago, Lakota, in 1981; the newspaper was changed to the moniker it holds now in 1989. Then it went to a magazine and now an online daily digital news publication and daily national news broadcast.
“We had no idea how important ICT was to our community until we saw first-hand the connection with our readers and viewers,” Trahant said. “More than a century ago the first tribal editor, Cherokee Nation’s Elias Boudinot, called Native news ‘a spacious channel.’ That channel is even spacious -- and more important -- in a digital age.”
For nearly two years, Indian Country Today headquarters was housed at NCAI in Washington, D.C., the ancestral homelands of the Nacotchtank and Piscataway people, and moved to Phoenix, Arizona, home to the O’odham and Piipaash people. The headquarters moved to Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications in July 2019. ICT’s Washington bureau is based at ASU’s campus and the Dënéndeh and Dena’ina Ełnena people host the Alaska bureau at Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage, Alaska.
The digital site IndianCountryToday.com reaches about a half million people each month.
A half-hour news broadcast began in March of 2020 as a daily report about the pandemic. “We realized Indian Country needed to hear vital information about the pandemic and how it could possibly impact our communities,” said Patty Talahongva, Hopi, who is the executive producer of the broadcast.
“Now, we are excited to celebrate our one year anniversary on the air on April 6, 2021,” she said.
It has evolved to a full half-hour newscast carried by FNX and many public television stations across the country. It also airs on an Aboriginal channel in Australia. The show is produced at Arizona PBS and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.
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