NORMAN, Okla., — The Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) has selected 10 students as members of the Native American Journalist Fellowship (NAJF) class of 2018, along with four second-year fellows.
The students come from tribal communities and colleges across the nation and will travel to the 2018 National Native Media Conference in Miami, Florida, July 18-22. NAJA Fellows will work in a joint newsroom with selected National Association of Hispanic Journalists’ students and mentors.
2018 NAJF Student Fellows
Hunter Hotulke, Seminole Nation, Haskell Indian Nations
Hunter Hotulke is a Media Communications major at Haskell Indian Nations graduating in May 2018. His stated reason for working in journalism is to see more natives working in the field.
Robin Maxkii, Stockbridge-Munsee, Salish Kootenai College
Robin Maxkii is a graduating senior majoring in Psychology at Salish Kootenai College (Spring ’18) and a 2014 Dine’ College graduate (Social and Behavioral Sciences AA; Dine Studies AA). She currently lives on the Flathead Indian Reservation. Her passion and work focuses on circumventing rural and tribal issues by utilizing digital media with a particular focus on issues related to Tribal education and access. She plans to further pursue these topics in Graduate school, as she believes digital media has the ability to empower communities. From blogging as a pre-teen to running various social media groups, the power of digital media has played a pivotal role in her life. She co-starred in the 2016 PBS Series Roadtrip Nation’s ‘CodeTrip’, traveling the country interviewing people in technology. In her free time she enjoys voiding warranties on various electronics, writing short stories, and dreaming up news ways to blend tradition with technology.
Lydia Fielder, Cherokee Nation, University of Arkansas
A junior Broadcast Journalism and Political Science dual major with a Spanish minor, Lydia Fielder is an Honors College Fellow at the University of Arkansas. She is in the semester of defense of her undergraduate thesis project, a documentary investigating the dangers of international reporting for female journalists’ mental health. Her passion for international journalism was inspired by her broadened worldview after numerous study abroad and service excursions to Greece, Israel, and, most recently, South Africa. Mentoring elementary students in the townships of Cape Town stirred a passion for education and government. This not only motivated her to tackle an additional degree in political science, but it also inspired her to start a broadcasting internship at her alma mater. Here, she spearheads the inaugural year of the Bentonville Sports Network by acting as on-camera talent, fostering creative video packages, and advising high school students in editing and production of a weekly athletic show. Additionally, Lydia anchors weekly on UATV, her university’s live newscast. She looks forward to embarking on a photojournalism project in Bolivia this summer and graduating in May 2019, pursuing professional work as an international correspondent.
Taylor Notah, Navajo Nation, Arizona State University
Taylor Notah is in her senior year majoring in Journalism and minoring in American Indian Studies at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. She is also re-learning her mother tongue, the Navajo language. Taylor’s focus at the Walter Cronkite School is in new media, and she anticipates graduating in May 2018.
Cheyenne McNeill, Coharie, University of North Carolina
Cheyenne McNeill is a Senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill studying Broadcast Journalism with an interest in pursuing Broadcast Journalism, or working in Public Relations. She thinks that in today’s society, the media is more important than ever, especially with President Trump’s opinions on the media and many of today’s journalists, suggesting that that alone shows how important and how instrumental the media is. After spending time studying different things about journalism and understanding how and why it functions the way that it does, Cheyenne feels she would enjoy being apart of it and being able to shed light on things that the general public doesn’t always necessarily understand. She expects to graduate in May of 2018.
Benjamin Yazza, Navajo Nation, University of New Mexico
Benjamin Yazza is a student at the University of New Mexico majoring in Journalism and minoring in the Chinese Language.
Melissa Ellis, Chickasaw, East Central University
Melissa Ellis is a junior Accounting Major and currently works at the Chickasaw Nation as an Accounting Intern full-time and at Ada First Baptist as a Preschool Teacher part-time. Though her major is in Accounting, she is interested in making a greater impact in her community through journalism. Melissa is currently involved in a campus organization that focuses on Native American culture and heritage, Native American Student Association (NASA), and has been involved in many Native organizations prior to this, having grown up in a traditional community. Melissa says she has always wanted to fulfill her passion to speak up for Native American tribes. When she saw the application for the 2018 Native American Journalism Fellowship, she realized this would be her chance to learn how to be a voice for tribes.
Marissa Johnson, Salt River Pima-Maricopa, Arizona State University
Marissa Johnson is an Arizona State University student graduating in 2020. She says through her studies she hopes to continue to acquire skills to be a successful journalist. Her goal is to be a video game journalist for a big media company like IGN or Polygon as there are very few Native Americans in the mainstream media and she feels it is important for Native American youth to see other Native Americans represented in large, well known companies. She would want the Native American youth to see the footprints of her actions, and to inspire any Native American youth from any tribe or reservation.
Jarrette Work, A’aaniiihnin of Fort Belknap Montana, University of Nevada-Reno
Jarrette Werk is a member of the Gros Ventre Tribe of Fort Belknap Montana, home of the Aaniih and Nakoda Nations. Currently a junior at the University of Nevada, Reno studying photojournalism, Jarrette is expected to graduate in the Spring of 2019. Upon completion of his internship with First Nation’s Focus Magazine, his focus will be reporting within the Indigenous communities of the world.
Emily Dunford, Muscogee Creek Nation, University of Oklahoma
Emily Dunford is a current Senior at the University of Oklahoma studying Broadcast Journalism. Having been fascinated with broadcast journalists since a child, Emily has only seen that fascination grow since entering college, and hopes the fast paced work they experience as a Native American Journalism Fellow will further her experience.
Learn more about the 2018 class at www.naja.com by clicking the ‘NAJF Newsroom’ tab under ‘Programs’.
NAJF Newsroom Leaders
Under the direction of NAJF co-directors Victoria LaPoe (Cherokee), Ohio University, and Frank Robertson (Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate), South Dakota State University, student fellows will work with mentors to produce coverage throughout the year. Val Hoeppner (Cherokee) will provide digital skills training during the onsite newsroom experience.
Fellows will participate in three webinars prior to the newsroom experience and can receive 3 hours of college credit at the undergraduate or graduate-level through their respective universities.
- Darren Brown (Cochiti Pueblo/Choctaw), CATV47
- Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton (Cherokee), freelance journalist
- Ramona Marozas (Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians), CBS 3
- Reggie George (Yakama Nation), KYNR-AM
- Carina Dominguez (Pascua Yaqui), CBS News / 2014 NAJF
- Mark Fogarty, freelance journalist
- David Bledsoe, American Indian College Fund
NAJF Second-Year Scholars
AJ Earl, Comanche Nation, Portland State University; incoming graduate student American University, Columbia University Scholar, NAJF Mentor-in-Training/Web Editor
A profile on AJ is available here
Tyler Jones, Choctaw Nation, University of Kansas, Columbia University Scholar, NAJF Mentor-in-Training / Social Media Manager
A story by Tyler is available here
Kaitlin Boysel, Cherokee Nation, University of Central Oklahoma, Columbia University Scholar
A profile on Kaitlin is available here
Priestess Bearstops, Oglala Lakota Nation, Minneapolis, Ohio University Scripps Scholar
A profile on Priestess is available here
NAJA serves and empowers Native American journalists through programs and actions designed to enrich journalism and promote Indigenous cultures.
The 2018 NAJA Education Committee created NAJA Education Pathways to support Native American students pursuing media careers. From initial participation in the fellowship to returning as a mentor and future leader of the organization, NAJA aims to foster professional development at every level of students’ experience.
Thanks to the support from sponsors and sustaining members, all student travel expenses including airfare, food and accommodations are covered by NAJA for the newsroom immersion experience.