Native American Journalism Fellowship

Meet NAJA's new student fellows as 2014-15 class takes on new opportunities!

NAJA is proud to welcome a new class of Native American Journalism Fellows and extend our congratulations to recent alumni of our program as they continue to advance their careers. 

The 10 new students of the 2015-2016 Native American Journalism Fellowship already have begun reporting and writing stories in the lead up to training July 6-11 where they will meet for the first time and produce stories under the guidance of professional journalists serving as mentors. 

The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians is a leading sponsor of the students' 2016 gathering in Washington, D.C., and generous financial support for this important initiative also has been provided by the Ho-Chunk Nation. 

The students are:

The students selected through a competitive application process also will attend the first-ever White House Tribal Youth Gathering on July 9, with plans to produce stories from the experience. 

Their work from the week-long intensive will be celebrated and honored during a special recognition banquet held as part of NAJA's annual National Native Media Conference. The banquet takes place at noon on July 10 at the Hyatt Regency-Crystal City (2799 Jefferson Davis Hwy, Arlington, Va.). Tickets for the Student Recognition Luncheon can be purchased on our conference registration page.  

In its second year, the Native American Journalism Fellowship represents a revamped program launched by NAJA in partnership with the School of Journalism at University of Montana and the Newseum Institute to prepare aspiring journalists and storytellers for real-world success. It also aims to increase the number of Native American voices in media and visibility of Native stories and communities across the U.S. 

After the student fellows' summer meeting, they report stories during the school year and have the option of earning three college course credits through UM while working with mentors and NAJA leaders as needed to land internships at mainstream and tribal media news outlets. The fellowship builds on NAJA's former Native Voice program.

We are also thrilled that a majority of graduates of the inaugural class of fellows this summer are pushing forward in their journalism careers. We extend our congratulations to them as they advance in the profession through the following summer opportunities or permanent positions: 

Jourdan Bennett-Begaye (Dine´), a Fort Lewis College graduate, starts on her master's degree at Syracuse University as one of two S.I. Newhouse Minority Fellows, a full-scholarship program in which she'll also report forSyracuse Media Group, which publishes and The Syracuse Post-Standard

Brittney Bennett (United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma), a recent University of Oklahoma graduate, is a summer intern at the Cherokee Phoenix. 

Pauly Denetclaw (Dine´), a student at the University of New Mexico and GenJustice fellow, is part of the Knight-CUNYJ Summer Internship program at City University of New York.

Carina Dominguez (Pascua Yaqui), a recent graduate of Arizona State University, is a summer intern at CBS News in New York.

Brandon Michael Frye (Choctaw), a graduate of East Central University, is a master's degree candidate at theUniversity of Oklahoma and a reporter at the Biskinik Newspaper serving the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. 

Sarah Kate Jones (Chickasaw), a student at East Central University, is a radio announcer/reporter at Chickasaw Nation at KCNP.

Charlie Perry (Prairie Band Potawatomi), a recent Haskell Nations University graduate, is a summer documentary intern at FNX media.  

To learn more about how to support the Native American Journalism Fellowship, contact NAJA Interim Executive Director Rebecca Landsberry at [email protected].

About NAJF

The Native American Journalists Association has developed a highly successful student training program that has become a cornerstone in the organization’s commitment to raising the next generation of storytellers. 

The Native American Journalism Fellowship (NAJF) for college students now stands alone as this country’s single most important career pipeline created specifically for aspiring Native American journalists.

NAJF is a partnership between NAJA, the University of Montana and the Newseum Institute, and an extension of NAJA's former Native Voice program.

NAJF is an opportunity for college students to develop reporting and multimedia skills from tribal journalists and news industry professionals from across the country. The topical focus for this year's fellowship will be election reporting, as the country gears up for the 2016 presidential elections. Students will also report on issues surrounding the 2015 National Native Media Conference.

Fellows will receive:

  • Multimedia Training
  • Tips for Producing Effective Coverage of the 2016 Presidential Elections
  • A Professional Mentor
  • Immersion in an On-Site Newsroom Experience
  • Skills for Job-Readiness
  • Access to Jobs and Internships
  • Three (3) credit hours through the University of Montana

NAJF is an unpaid fellowship, however, travel expenses including: air fare, food and accommodations during the on-site newsroom immersion will be covered by NAJA.  

Immediately upon selection, NAJ Fellows will be assigned to a professional media mentor and receive story assignments. Fellows will be notified of their application status by May 2015.


NAJF Through the fellowship, students gain hands-on experience in a newsroom during the National Native Media Conference, as well as year-long multimedia training and mentoring from professional journalists.

NAJA’s leadership takes pride in our students’ work, believing it holds a connection to the long-held storytelling traditions found within our Native cultures. Our programs have helped aspiring journalists land jobs in the industry. Some former students have gone on to become journalism educators themselves.


During the on-site portion of the NAJF, student will work in a newsroom-style setting with journalists from tribal and mainstream media. Mentors work closely with students to provide guidance and editorial direction. Student reporters will primarily cover the Native American community near the National Native Media Conference site. In 2015, this will be Washington, D.C.


"My decision to become a journalist can be attributed to life-changing experiences I had at UNITY and NAJA conferences. Having NAJA's support has taught me that as one journalist, you can make a big difference in the world." -- Ramona Marozas, KBJR 6 | Northland's CW

Students will gain a deep sense of accomplishment and understanding of what it takes to be a successful journalist after a week of meeting deadlines and new challenges. Together, they produce a newspaper and television news and radio packages.

Throughout the week, guest speakers and select visitors attending the National Native Media Conference will deliver brief presentations and take part in question-and-answer sessions with the students. On Friday, students will be recognized at an event held in their honor to showcase completed news stories and give students -- especially those preparing to enter the field soon -- an opportunity to network with professionals and recruiters attending the conference.


Applications for the 2015 Native American Journalism Fellowship closed April 17.

NativeEye 2016: The Presidential Race through the Lens of Native America


Covering stories about the 2016 presidential race is the focus for college students accepted into the 2015-2016 class of the Native American Journalism Fellowship (NAJF). 

This groundbreaking project combines mentoring, training, hands-on experience in multimedia reporting, and online coursework through the University of Montana School of Journalism. 

NativeEye 2016 is administered by the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA), and is made possible through partnerships with the University of Montana and the Newseum Institute. Although most of the one-year project will be conducted through online and digital communication, a crucial component of the yearlong project involves hands-on training through an on-site newsroom immersion experience during the week of NAJA’s annual National Native Media Conference, held this year in the Washington D.C.-area in July. 

Need for funding

NAJA needs to raise $15,000 to provide 10 college students with travel, lodging, food, onsite transportation to cover stories, and other expenses related to their educational training. 

This funding would not only cover their expenses from Sunday, July 5 through Saturday, July 11, but would also provide the necessary tools (and, hopefully, the confidence) they need to cover critical political stories.

Project goals 

A new cohort of young Native American journalists will gain experience in covering national elections while leveraging digital technology, which will give these fellows an edge when they enter the workforce. In addition, through the coverage offered through NativeEye 2016, Native American voters will be engaged and informed about the presidential candidates and will learn how the candidates’ proposed policies might impact them and their communities. 

How NativeEye 2016 works

NativeEye 2016 is a project that brings together college students and experienced journalists to create content about the 2016 presidential race. The stories will be published on a web portal beginning in the fall of 2015. The portal is being designed not only to inform voters about issues important to Native Americans, but also to provide voters with information about how each presidential candidate’s proposed policies and platform would affect American Indian and Alaska Native communities across the country. 

NAJA envisions that the NativeEye web portal would be a destination website for voters to interact with each other through chats, as well as a place for them to view videos and other multimedia content about the presidential race. 

The 10 Native American college students will produce their work through an upper-level online journalism course offered by the University of Montana, where they will gain three hours of college credit toward a degree. 

Students will be matched with mentors – professional journalists with experience in covering elections – who help guide the fellows in their stories about the presidential race.

Support diversity in civic engagement

The United States continues to grow more racially and ethnically diverse, yet the way presidential candidates speak to voters has changed little since its birth as a nation. To those seeking the highest office, the main audience is white America. 

Mainstream media cover presidential races largely through that same lens, even though the electorate increasingly is becoming more diverse. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that over the last five presidential elections, the share of voters who were racial or ethnic minorities rose from just over one in six in 1996 to more than one in four in 2012. 

Native Americans and their issues are rarely part of the national discussion during a presidential race, yet in the 2008 election, several states were impacted with the increased participation of Native voters. The continued lack of attention to this segment of the population underscores the need for a place for Native American voters to access information about the presidential candidates – through the lens of their own tribal issues – so they may make an informed choice on Election Day. 

Goals of the Native American Journalism Fellowship (NAJF)

- Create rich experience for Native American students that inspires them to pursue a career in journalism 

- Offer training that prepares students for the newsroom

- Prepare participants for job offers (program graduates)

- Execute a successful project that turns into a model for an ongoing program

- Produce active NAJA professional members who contribute to the organization and become mentors to other aspiring journalists 

Meet some of NAJA's former Native Voices students:

Dalton Walker is the web editor and social media manager for The Gazette in Colorado Springs, Colo. He also serves on the NAJA board of directors as chair of the membership committee.

He is a former digital reporter at the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, S.D. He reported for NAJA's Native Voices newspaper in 2005, which was produced at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. Working on the newspaper gave Dalton an early look at the school where he would later earn his journalism degree. He says the NAJA program helped him understand what can be accomplished when a strong organizational structure is in place, and introduced him to an important mentor -- Lincoln Journal Star reporter Kevin Abourezk. Dalton credits Kevin's mentoring with providing key support during his academic career. 

Tetona Dunlap is a features reporter at the Times-News in Twin Falls, Idaho. Tetona also currently serves on the NAJA board of directors as secretary.
A member of NAJA since high school, she has been the recipient of several NAJA scholarships and she took part in the Native Voices program during UNITY 2004, when she was a student photographer at the convention in Washington, D.C. Later, Tetona served as a NAJA mentor during the 2008 UNITY conference in Chicago and 2009 Native Voices program in Albuquerque, N.M. She has worked at The Associated Press in Seattle, The Washington Post and the Oklahoman in Oklahoma City. She worked at the Kansas City Star for three years as a photojournalist/videographer before attending the University of Montana School of Journalism where she received her masters degree in journalism in 2011.

Jason Begay is the director of Native American journalism projects at the University of Montana School of Journalism. He graduated from the school in 2002, with the help of NAJA scholarships and the opportunity to grow as a reporter through the Native Voices program. He has worked at The New York Times, The Oregonian and the Navajo Times, where he spent six years before accepting his current position.

Past program: 2013 Native Voice News