Founder Tim Giago to give keynote address at NAJA Membership Luncheon and Business Meeting

Posted by Rebecca Landsberry on 07/07/2017

Join the Native American Journalists Association during the annual business meeting recognizing contributions of founders, members and supporters. This event is open to all and free to NAJA members. Tickets may be purchased for $50 each here

Keynote Speaker: Tim Giago

Tim Giago is a member of the Oglala Lakota Tribe. He was born on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota on July 12, 1934. Giago attended elementary and high school at the Holy Rosary Indian Mission. He enlisted in the United States Navy during the Korean Conflict in 1951 and was honorably discharged in 1958. He attended college at San Jose Junior College in San Jose, California under the G.I. Bill and transferred to the University of Nevada at Reno.He majored in business with a minor in journalism.

He was awarded the prestigious Nieman Fellowship in Journalism to Harvard University for the years 1990-1991. Giago was the founder of the weekly Lakota Times in 1981. The newspaper withstood firebombs, had its windows shot out on three separate occasions and received many death threats including one attempt on his life while building the newspaper successfully on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The paper was re-named Indian Country Today in 1992. He served as editor and publisher for 18 years building it into the largest independent Indian newspaper in America before selling the paper in 1998.

He started the Lakota Journal in 2000 and served as its editor and publisher until his retirement in July of 2004. He was the founder and first president of the Native American Journalists Association in 1984. In 1983 he sent letters to every Indian newspaper he could find asking them if they would be interested in forming a Native American Press Association. He then worked with Journalism Professor Bill Dulaney of Penn State to raise the money to hold the first meeting of Indian journalists at Penn State. He was elected as the first President of the association when it was formally assembled on the Choctaw Nation the next year.

NAJA celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2014. He was the recipient of the H.L. Mencken Award for Editorial Writing from the Baltimore Sun in 1985. He holds Honorary Doctoral Degrees from Bacone College in Oklahoma, Nebraska Indian Community College at Winnebago, NE and Sinte Gleska University at Rosebud, S. D. Giago was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame in 1994. He also became the first Native American ever to be inducted into the South Dakota Newspaper Hall of Fame on November 10, 2007. In July 2013 he was inducted into the Native American Journalists Association Hall of Fame. Giago has received many professional awards including the University of Missouri School of Journalism’s Honor Award for Distinguished Service in Journalism in 1991, The South Dakota Education Association/National Education Human and Civil Rights Award in 1988, the Golden Quill Award for Outstanding Editorial Writing by the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors in 1997, and Best Local Column by the South Dakota Newspaper Association for the years 1985 and 2003 and the Great Spirits Award from the Navajo Institute of Social Justice in September of 2004. The Harvard Foundation honored him in 1991 for his contributions to the growth of American Indian newspapers and Indian journalism.

He was honored in on July 17, 2011 with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Native American Journalists Association. He is also the recipient of the Jay Silver Heels Achievement Award for building a successful newspaper business. In 1975 his weekly television show, The First Americans, made its debut on KEVN in Rapid City, SD. It became the first weekly television show hosted and produced by an American Indian on a commercial television station. His books include The Aboriginal Sin and Notes from Indian Country Volumes I an II. Giago also edited and helped write The American Indian and the Media.

His book, “Children Left Behind” was published in August of 2006 by Clear Light Book Publishing, Inc., Santa Fe, NM and won the Bronze Medal from the Independent Book Publishers. He has served on many boards including three years on the Freedom Forum Board of Advisors with Allen Neuharth, the late founder of USA Today, and on the Running Strong for America Board with Billy Mills, the winner of the 10,000 meter Gold Medal at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. An editorial by Giago challenging Republican Gov. George Mickelson of South Dakota to proclaim 1990 a Year of Reconciliation to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Massacre at Wounded Knee was accepted by the Governor and 1990 was proclaimed The Year of Reconciliation between Indians and whites.

That same year an editorial by Giago challenged Gov. Mickelson to replace Columbus Day with Native American Day. The legislators voted in favor of it and South Dakota became the only state in the union to celebrate Native American Day as a state holiday. He has appeared on national television on shows such as Nightline, the Oprah Winfrey Show and NBC News with Tom Brokaw. He has also been featured in many magazines such as Newsweek and People Magazines. His weekly column, Notes from Indian Country, appears nationally in many newspapers and it also appears in many South Dakota newspapers as well as in many Indian newspapers and on the websites of, and

Giago has lectured on Indian issues at many colleges and universities including Harvard, MIT, UCLA, University of Illinois, Boise State, Chadron State, Bacone College, Nebraska Indian Community College, Florida A&M, University of Colorado, Dine’ College on the Navajo Nation, the Institute of American Indian Art in Santa Fe, South Dakota State University, and Miami of Ohio University to name a few. In 2009 Giago formed a 2010 Unity Committee and petitioned Republican Gov. Mike Rounds to proclaim 2010 as the Year of Unity between Indians and whites. The Governor signed the proclamation on Feb. 19, 2010. Since that signing several events have been held in South Dakota bringing Indian and whites together and the Central States Fair, the Black Hills Powwow and the Lakota Nation Invitational Tournament have all been dedicated to the Year of Unity. Giago is currently the Publisher of Native Sun News, the largest weekly newspaper in South Dakota. Racism is still a recurring problem in South Dakota and Giago has devoted his remaining years in making an all-out effort to stamp it out.