Pauly Denetclaw joins Indian Country Today as tribal media fellow

(Photo courtesy of Pauly Denetclaw)

Jourdan Bennett-Begaye

Award-winning reporter will cover Washington agencies that impact the Navajo Nation

Pauly Denetclaw, Diné, is the second media fellow for Indian Country Today.

Denetclaw has been a staff reporter for the Navajo Times in Window Rock, Arizona, for more than a year and will be reporting from Washington, D.C., this March.

Denetclaw brings a wide-range of skills and experience from her previous fellowships and her time as an independent journalist to the newsroom of Indian Country Today.

In 2018, she won four awards from the Native American Journalist Association’s National Native Media Awards. On top of those, the Arizona Newspaper Association awarded her for the Best News Story in the 2018 Best Newspaper Contest.

Denetclaw obtained impressive fellowships over the years with the Journalism and Women’s Symposium, Generation Justice and the Native American Journalism Fellowship. She was part of the first cohort of Knight-CUNYJ Journalism Fellows and spent the summer working in New York City at NPR's Latino USA in 2015.

The former University of New Mexico student interned and freelanced for National Native News and received the Native American Journalist Association's 2016 Richard LaCourse investigative journalism award alongside Antonia Gonzales.

The award-winning journalist is curious to see how a digital newspaper works.

“I’m really looking forward to working in a newsroom that is predominately online. I haven’t worked in that type of newsroom and I’m excited to see the differences and add more skills to my tool kit,” she said. “I would also like to learn how to better incorporate digital into my reporting.”

The fellowship was created in August 2018 as a way for Native journalists to gain new skills and experience, and to expand their network. This opportunity immerses fellows in public policy so they can see how it impacts tribal communities.

“I would love to have a better understanding of the U.S. government and its relationship to Indigenous communities. I would really like to gain more knowledge on how federal policies impact Indian Country and how tribal governments work with the federal government,” Denetclaw said.

Editor Mark Trahant, Shoshone-Bannock, said of Denetclaw, “I’m looking forward to working with Pauly, sharing some of our ideas and learning from her. Native journalism is stronger when we find ways to work together to improve coverage and serve our readers.”

That’s exactly what this fellowship is about. Opening up doors to tribal news outlets so we can better inform our communities. It’s part of why Denetclaw applied for the fellowship.

“The Navajo Nation has always made it a priority to keep an eye on what’s happening in Wáshindoon. We even have a whole office based in D.C. to advocate for the needs of the Navajo people. So, I think it’s of great interest to our readers at the Navajo Times as well as our elected officials to know what the federal government is doing,” she said. “I think my reporting in D.C. would help to inform the Navajo community and with the contacts I gain during my fellowship would help me to continue reporting on what’s happening at the federal level.”

Vincent Schilling, Akwesasne Mohawk, the associate editor at Indian Country Today expressed his appreciation to hosting the newest fellow. “We are excited at Indian Country Today to bring on the talents of Pauly Denetclaw from the Navajo Times, who brings a great wealth of experience to our team. The great thing about our fellowship is that we will be working with Pauly to work in the hub of Washington, D.C., in order to create a increased visibility to the news of Indian Country, in addition to working closely with other tribal news outlets in this regard. Welcome aboard, Pauly.”

Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, Diné, met Denetclaw in 2014 when they were in the same cohort for the Native American Journalism Fellowship in 2014. Since then, they spoke about how exciting it would be to work in the same newsroom together. Now it’s happening.

“I’m truly excited to be working with Pauly and show her how a digital newspaper works, but also learn from her. I’ve always admired Pauly’s work ethic, knack for asking the difficult questions and see her compassion for our People through the stories she tells,” Bennett-Begaye said. “This is a step in the write direction in collaborating with other Native journalists and tribal news outlets so we can tell our stories and not have others tell it for us.”

During the fellowship, Denetclaw’s stories will be posted by Indian Country Today and the Navajo Times.

The tribal media fellowship is supported by a grant from the Bay and Paul Foundations. Applications for the fellowship are accepted on a rotating basis. The idea is for tribal media to send a reporter to work with Indian Country Today for a short period of time, usually a month or two. For more information about the fellowship contact Mark Trahant,

Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, Diné, is a reporter/producer for Indian Country Today in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter - @jourdanbb. Email -