Native American Journalism Fellowship

NAJA announces 2017 student fellows

Native American Journalists Association selects 10 Native American Journalism Fellows for mentorship and newsroom immersion at EIJ17; Names four Columbia EIJ17 Scholarship recipients

The Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) has selected 10 student journalists as members of the Native American Journalist Fellowship (NAJF) class of 2017. The students come from tribal communities and colleges across the nation and will travel to the National Native Media Conference at EIJ17 in Anaheim, California Sept. 4-10.

  • AJ Earl, Portland State University, Comanche Nation
  • Aliyah Chavez, Stanford University, Santo Domingo Pueblo
  • Jaida Grey Eagle, Institute of American Indian Arts, Oglala Lakota Nation
  • Jorge Martínez, Brown University, Jñatro/Ñuu Sau
  • Kaitlin Boyse, University of Central Oklahoma, Cherokee Nation
  • Kathleen Flynn, CUNY, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians
  • Priestess Bearstops, Minneapolis, Oglala Lakota Nation
  • Sarah Liese, University of Mississippi, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians
  • Shea Smith, University of Oklahoma, Cherokee Nation
  • Tyler Jones, University of Kansas, Choctaw Nation

Ala’a Ibrahim, University of Texas at Austin, is the 2017 UNITY: Journalists for Diversity Fellow and a member of the National Association of Black Journalists. She will attend the NLGJA, AAJA and NAJA conferences, joining all organizations’ student newsrooms.

NAJF is an opportunity for Native American students to deepen their reporting and multimedia skills while learning from tribal journalists and industry professionals from across the country.

“We are very excited for our incoming NAJF class and look forward to covering issues that matter to NAJA as well as Indian Country,” said Victoria LaPoe, NAJA education chair. “We look forward to our mentees learning not only from mentors, but from all members attending the conference.”

Under the direction of Val Hoeppner, digital media consultant and LaPoe, Ph.D., Cherokee, incoming assistant journalism professor at Ohio University, students will work with mentors Tristan Ahtone, 2018 Nieman Fellow and member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma; Graham Brewer, a journalist with The Oklahoman and citizen of the Cherokee Nation; Khloe Keeler, a reporter based in Colorado with KKTV 11 News and member of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska; and Mark Fogarty, a correspondent with Indian Country Today Media Network.

Frank Robertson (Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate), a photographer and former NAJ Fellow will also join the on-site immersion newsroom in a mentor-in-training capacity - a new position created by NAJA to develop the next generation of media educators and leaders.

NAJA serves and empowers Native journalists through programs and actions designed to enrich journalism and promote Native cultures.

“NAJA’s most important role in Indian Country is to create the next generation of storytellers. This exemplary class of student fellows, mentored by our experienced professionals, will soon find their paths into tribal and mainstream newsrooms where they will have a voice in a more fair and accurate portrayal of our communities and cultures,” NAJA President Bryan Pollard said. “I look forward to meeting them at the conference and would encourage our members to stop by the student newsroom to offer encouragement.”

Thanks to generous support from sponsors, all travel expenses including airfare, food and accommodations are covered by NAJA for the newsroom immersion portion of the fellowship. Fellows will also tour local news stations including FNX | First Nations Experience and the NFL Network.

Thanks to generous funding from Columbia University, NAJA will also support four Native American student journalists in attending the EIJ17 conference. Those students include: Kalen Goodluck (Three Affiliated Tribes) of Bard College; Morgan Ammons (Coharie / Lumbee) of University of North Carolina; Julian Brave NoiseCat (Secwepemc), a recent graduate of Oxford University and Jarrette Werk (Gros Ventre) of the University of Nevada Reno. 

2017 Native American Journalism Fellows

Priestess Bear Stops 

Priestess Bear Stops was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and educated at American Indian OIC. She has served as an intern with Wilderness Inquiry promoting outdoor activities for families, youth and people with disabilities and worked extensively as a hostess and wait assistant. She aspires to be a truth-teller and an agent of change in the world.   

Kaitlin Boysel

Kaitlin Boysel (Cherokee) is a current junior at the University of Central Oklahoma. She has a passion for news and learning about her community’s struggles and stories. She’s currently working for her college newscast, as an anchor for UCentral News in her second semester on the job. She enjoys having the opportunity to meet new people everyday. 

Aliyah Chavez

Aliyah Chavez is from Kewa Pueblo, New Mexico. She is a B.A. Candidate in Communication and the Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity and an M.A. Candidate in Journalism at Stanford University. This summer, she will be interning in New York City at NBC's the TODAY show. She is interested in all things news related and looks forward to one day becoming a full-time reporter. Some of her interests include sports reporting, foreign correspondence, and politics.

Jaida Grey Eagle

Jaida Grey Eagle is an Oglala Lakota photographer, who was born in Pine Ridge, South Dakota and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is currently going into her senior year at the Institute of American Indian arts where she is pursuing her BFA in photography and is exploring how art and photography can be used for social change and awareness. Her interest in photojournalism began at a young age and was developed through volunteer and internship experiences. She has been able to develop her storytelling and content creation through various opportunities through her university such as the Student Sustainability Internship where she was able to conduct interviews with indigenous leaders, activists, elders, and youth on their perspective of climate change, and helping in the creation of a learning resource for the IAIA community. In pursuing photojournalism, she is able to fulfill her passion of image making and storytelling through her photography. When she is not creating images she can be found practicing aerial silks, writing, reading, beading, traveling and making art.

AJ Earl

AJ Earl (Comanche Nation) is currently a junior at Portland State University studying history with a minor in Indigenous Nations Studies. Born in South Texas, he is descended from Permansu and Quanah Parker and are enrolled in the Comanche Nation of Oklahoma. He edits the news section of the Portland State Vanguard, an award-winning student newspaper in Portland, Oregon. He has covered politics, student government and previously edited the international section of the Vanguard. AJ hopes to one day be a historian, scholar and journalist focused on oral histories and recapturing narratives of urban and displaced Indigenous peoples. 

Kate Flynn

Kathleen is a non-fiction filmmaker and video journalist based in Brooklyn, New York. She is committed to telling stories that examine and shift narratives to reveal larger histories and she looks forward to representing Indian Country and Indigenous communities in her work. She is currently working on a documentary about her mother's adoption and her return to Turtle Mountain Chippewa territory. She will graduate in 2017 with a B.A. in Media Studies, Documentary Film with a Minor in Geography from Hunter College in New York City.

Ala’a Ibrahim

Ala’a Ibrahim is studying multimedia journalism and business at the University of Texas at Austin. As a visual journalist, her experience revolves around video production, documentary film, and reporting. She is currently a multimedia intern at Austin’s NPR affiliate, KUT. Ibrahim is also president of UT Austin's chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists. In the past, she has held positions at NBCUniversal’s Meet the Press Daily, KXAN-TV’s investigative unit, REVELATOR, The Daily Texan, and TSTV. Ibrahim is also one of nine Roy W. Howard Fellows at the Scripps Howard Foundation. This summer, she will be traveling to Japan to study foreign correspondency with the organization. Upon arrival to the United States, she will be joining NBCUniversal in New York City as a fellow. Ibrahim is also passionate about leadership, public speaking, and entrepreneurship. Throughout her career, she plans on covering social issues and will continue to be a strong advocate for diversity in the media.  

Tyler Jones

Tyler Jones joined KLWN LAWRENCE in August 2014. At just 20 years old, Jones serves as the host of KLWN SATURDAY & ROCK CHALK SPORTS TALK OVERTIME. Jones is also the studio anchor for KLWN's FOOTBALL FRIDAY.

He began his career hosting a daily sports podcast, The Dr. Report with Tyler Jones when he was 15. To this day, Jones is still hosting The Dr. Report, which is currently in it's 6th season.

By his junior year of high school, Jones established himself as a well-rounded play-by-play announcer, well beyond his years. For two years, Jones was the Voice of Broken Arrow Athletics and called the Oklahoma High School Girls Basketball 6A State Championship.

Jones served as the play-by-play announcer for the ROCK CHALK ROUNDBALL CLASSIC in 2016 on KLWN, an annual charity basketball event raising money for local Kansas kids with cancer.

Aside from KLWN, Jones continues to work outside of Kansas. Jones is a play-by-play voice for football and basketball broadcasts on OK Preps and PrimeTime Sports Network in Oklahoma and Texas.

Jones' work extends to his writing, where he serves a contributing writer for NDNSports.com and previously for BH Media Group.  Jones is also the founding president of Tyler Jones Media Group.

Currently, Jones attends the University of Kansas and is majoring in Journalism. Jones is a 2014 graduate of Broken Arrow High School in Oklahoma.

Sarah Liese 

Sarah Liese was born and raised in Saint Louis, Missouri. While attending grade school and high school, she grasped an appreciation for sports. Liese put her heart and soul into the every sport she played, but she quickly became attached to volleyball. She played for club volleyball teams just about every year until her senior year in 2014-15, when she decided to co-coach a team of eighth graders. It was then that Liese gained confidence and understood that she could make a difference in other people’s life.

The summer of 2015 before Liese went away to college, she noticed a life-changing detail on her grandmother’s painting. The painting created by her grandmother, Mary Morez, a famous Navajo artist, portrayed Liese’s family surrounded by people. Everyone in the painting was looking behind them, but Sarah Liese was the only one looking forward. After analyzing this painting, Liese developed a passion for her native roots and began writing about it. She felt that this painting stood out to her at the right moment in her life and helped her figure out her true passion which is documenting native cultures like her own, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and the Navajo Band. Currently, she is working towards her goal by attending the University of Mississippi to study Journalism and English. Additionally, she is working for the school newspaper, The Daily Mississippian, covering sports such as volleyball and softball. She plans on graduating in the spring of 2019 with a major in Journalism, and a minor in English. After college, she hopes to get a job documenting native cultures and discovering more about her grandmother, who passed away in 2004. 

Jorge Martínez

Jorge Martínez is an undergraduate at Brown University studying Science and Society with a focus on Indigenous Knowledge. He grew up in Southern California within Tongva territory and has recently spent the last year working with community leaders from California Indian Country. From learning about the local tribes, he has also learned a lot about himself as a Native person, Jñatrjo (Mazahua) and Ñuu Sau (Mixtec)—indigenous to the State of Mexico and Oaxaca, respectively. Through journalism, he aspires to advocate for his pueblos and Indigenous peoples everywhere.

Shea Smith 

Shea Smith is a senior broadcast journalism student at the University of Oklahoma, in Norman. Shea has spent the last three and a half years involved in Oklahoma College Broadcasters Club, SPJ, OU Nightly, OUCovers, Sooner Sports Pad, and more recently, NAJA. She has interned with KOCO Channel 5 in Oklahoma City, Student Press Law Center in Washington D.C., and she will spend this summer in New York City as an NBC News Intern.  

Thank you to our generous NAJF sponsors!