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Meghan Sullivan
Indian Country Today

More than 250 stories were recognized for excellence in coverage of Native American news Monday when the Native American Journalists Association announced its 2020 National Native Media Award winners.

This year’s winning stories addressed subjects ranging from the MeToo movement in Indian Country, to a profile on an Indigenous surf rock band. The awards highlighted stories told through various mediums, including TV, print, podcast, radio, and online publications. They also recognized different topics, such as excellence in environmental coverage, sports coverage, elder coverage and breaking news.

Three standalone honors were given: Lori Edmo, Shoshone-Bannock, received the NAJA-Medill Milestone Achievement Award for her longtime work in Indigenous reporting; APTN Investigates received the NAJA Richard LaCourse Award for an ongoing investigation into the handling of sexual assault reports by Indigenous women in Canada; and Mvskoke Media received the NAJA Elias Boudinot Free Press Award for its efforts to restore an independent press by enacting the “Independent Muscogee (Creek) Press Act.”

NAJA received more than 550 entries across the competition’s seven different categories, including one student division, three associate divisions, and three professional divisions. The different divisions are defined by the circulation total of the story, with a range from associate division I at a circulation below 5,000, to professional division III at a circulation total above 10,000.

Indian Country Today took home six awards, including first place for best environmental coverage and best elder coverage; second place for best feature photo; and honorable mentions for excellence in beat reporting, best coverage of Native America and best multimedia story.

Two Indian Country Today national correspondents also won awards for previous work for other outlets: Mary Annette Pember’s article for YES! Magazine, “Tribal Elder Hears Grandfather’s Voice in Archived Songs,” won first place for best feature story. Dalton Walker won four awards for his work at O’odham Action News, including first place for best feature story and best sports story.

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The Native American Journalists Association is a nonprofit organization that seeks to support Native Americans in journalism and increase Native American representation in national media. Every year, NAJA hosts the National Native Media Awards to highlight outstanding Indigenous journalism.

This year’s awards will be given over Zoom in a ceremony scheduled for 3 p.m. Central time on Oct. 15. 


— First Place, Best Elder Coverage: Aliyah Chavez, LaDonna Harris ‘stumbled’ into a legacy of impact
— First Place, Best Environmental Coverage: Danielle Johnson, Who is Manoomin?
— Second Place, Best Feature Photo: Jarrette Werk, Life was tough on that island
— Honorable Mention, Best Multimedia: Jarrette Werk, Life was tough on that island
— Honorable Mention, Excellence in Beat Reporting: Mary Annette Pember, MeToo in Indian Country
— Honorable Mention, Best Coverage of Native America: Taylor Notah, Student legal team works to protect, 'embolden' the Native vote

Dalton Walker:
— First Place, Best Sports Story, The Resilience of Salt River Volleyball, O’odham Action News
— First Place, Best Feature Story, Salt River Elementary School Teacher Named Arizona Teacher of the Year, O’odham Action News
— Second Place, Best Feature Story, To Disney ... and Beyond!, O’odham Action News
— Honorable Mention, Best Feature Story, Father, Son Complete Spartan Race, O’odham Action News

Mary Annette Pember:
— First Place, Best Feature Story, Tribal Elder Hears Grandfather’s Voice in Archived Songs, YES! Magazine

See the full list of winners here.

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Meghan Fate Sullivan, Koyukon Athabascan, is a Stanford Rebele Fellow for Indian Country Today. She grew up in Alaska, and is currently reporting on her home state from our Anchorage Bureau.

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