NAJA announces 2015-2016 scholarship recipients

Posted by Rebecca Landsberry on 09/04/2015

NORMAN, Oklahoma -- The Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) has awarded three $1,000 scholarships to college student members studying journalism for the 2015-2016 academic year. 

Dyani Brown

Born and raised on the Shinnecock Reservation in Southampton, NY, while serving as chairwoman of her nation’s Tribal Council board, Dyáni authored Agawam Notes, a weekly column that published in the town’s local newspaper, reporting community news about the Shinnecock Nation. This amalgam of experience helped Dyáni realize her passion to empower Native people through the application of strategic communication and media advocacy.Dyáni Brown (Shinnecock Nation) is an honors student at American University in Washington, D.C. She will graduate in May 2016 with a Bachelors of Artis in Public Communication with a minor in Marketing.

As a Udall Scholar and a Harry S Truman New York State finalist, Dyáni is dedicated to a career in tribal leadership and social entrepreneurship. She continues her public service as President of American University’s Student Advocates for Native Communities student club and by volunteering for advocacy efforts whenever possible. She is a current 2015-2016 NAJA Native American Journalism Fellow. 

James Pace-Cornsilk 

James Pace-Cornsilk (Cherokee Nation) is a master's candidate at the University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism studying documentary film. Now based in Oakland, California, James grew up in Nashville, Tenn., attended high school and college in Lincoln, Neb., and received his bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 

He is interested in documenting the human condition of American Indians so as to eliminate their marginalization from American society, as well as reporting on any issues that involve censorship, the United States government and the free flow of information. His work has appeared on the PBS NewsHour, Al Jazeera, Nashville Public Television, Nebraska Educational Telecommunications, NET Radio, Oakland North, the Daily Nebraskan, Kathimerini (Greece) and Haaretz (Israel). 

Shondiin Silversmith

Shondiin Silversmith is a member of the Navajo Nation, from Steamboat, Arizona. She is currently enrolled in the Media Innovation master studies program at Northeastern University in Boston, Mass.

"As a young adult, I didn’t consider my Native American perspective valuable to the field of journalism. As I’ve matured, however, I realize that although Native news is not always reported, these stories do matter. My stories matter, and that is what keeps me motivated to continue working in this field. My goal as a journalist is to provide whatever newsroom in which I work a valuable perspective. I may not always get to report on Native American news in a modern newsroom, but I want to have the confidence to approach my stories differently. What makes journalism so appealing to me is simple: the story. I love the idea that a journalist can get a story out of a person or people who in any other light would seem unimportant. That’s what drew me into journalism. I want to be that journalist telling those people’s stories, big or small.

NAJA awards annual scholarships to Native American students pursuing media degrees at higher education institutions. To apply for scholarships, students are required to be current NAJA members in good standing. Applications were reviewed by a committee of NAJA members and media professionals. Although I have worked as a journalist for five years – at a student newspaper and, more recently, at the Navajo Times – I am still eager to learn more. This is why I enrolled in the Media Innovation program. I believe that my time at NEU will provide me with the skills needed to become not only a better journalist, but a better storyteller. I am excited about this next chapter in my life and I am thankful for NAJA’s contribution to my education."

Funding for NAJA scholarships is made possible through efforts and events such as the annual Silent Auction, which takes place during the National Native Media Awards Banquet. All proceeds generated from this event benefit NAJA scholarships. To learn more or to make a donation to NAJA's scholarship fund, visit or donate online here