The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians has awarded a $1 million grant to Indian Country Today that will be used to help fund a weekly national newscast and hire new journalism talent.
The two-year grant was announced on Feb. 3 as the nonprofit news organization expands its digital footprint on coverage of American Indian and Alaska Native issues. The grant makes the tribe a founding partner for a planned Indian Country Today national news broadcast.
“We are excited about this partnership with Indian Country Today, a news organization that has been a positive presence and influence throughout the country for decades,” San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Chairwoman Lynn Valbuena said. “Indian nations have a duty to help shape news and information about Native communities. This is a wonderful opportunity for Indian Country to participate in this important endeavor.”
Indian Country Today’s television program will include reports from tribes across the country and Phoenix as well as from the news organization’s bureaus in Washington, D.C.and Anchorage, Alaska. Indian Country Today is based in Phoenix at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Indian Country Today has been producing video news stories and daily digital stories on its platform IndianCountryToday.com.
“This grant is so important because it so significantly advances our mission,” Indian Country Today Editor Mark Trahant, Shoshone-Bannock, said. “We are also pleased that San Manuel is our first founding partner. The tribe already has a legacy in media philanthropy and has demonstrated its commitment to changing the Indigenous narrative in positive directions.”
Indian Country Today Executive Producer Patty Talahongva, Hopi, said the grant will create a newscast that has never been seen before in Indian Country.
“The stories we produce will include the American Indian and Alaska Native perspective,” Talahongva said. “We have so many stories to tell and issues to cover that are not currently being covered in the media. Perspective is key. Context is key.
“Iss Eskweli. We appreciate the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians for being the first to step up and help us create this historic newscast. I' anave pa'angni. This is a huge help.”
Indian Country Today is not done raising money. It has a goal to raise more than $10 million over the next five years. One of Indian Country Today’s goals to showcase Indian Country talent by hiring more news staff as well as staff on the business side.
“The grant from San Manuel is incredibly generous, and the tribe’s strong support as founding partner will enable us to expand our coverage of Indiegnous communities to a much broader audience,” Indian Country Today President Karen Lincoln Michel, Ho-Chunk, said. “The marks a new beginning in our sustainability. We hope this investment by San Manuel will encourage other tribes, foundations and companies to support this critically important mission.”
San Manuel Band of Mission Indians has a history of philanthropy, including last year’s $1.1 million to the California wildlife recovery efforts.
The tribe also announced that it has given Arizona State University $5 million as part of endowment for an Indian law program and to help renovate a historic downtown Los Angeles building used by the school.
About half of the grant will go toward the endowment to support Indian Gaming and Tribal Self-Governance programs as part of the broader Indian Legal Program at ASU’s law school. The rest will go toward renovating the 106-year-old Herald Examiner Building.
Chairwoman Valbuena said the programs will help provide a means for tribes to achieve self-determination at a time when they're facing critical economic and governance challenges.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.