NAJA selects Tom Arviso as 2021 NAJA-Medill Milestone Achievement Award recipient

Arviso to be recognized during 2021 National Native Media Awards virtual ceremony Oct. 28

OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma — The Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) has selected Tommy “Tom” Arviso Jr. (Navajo) as the 2021 NAJA-Medill Milestone Achievement Award recipient.

The award honors an individual who has made a lasting impact on media to the benefit of Indigenous communities and is given jointly by the Native American Journalists Association and the Medill School of Journalism, Media, and Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University to celebrate responsible storytelling and journalism in Indian Country. 

The award also includes a $5,000 cash prize and an invitation to speak with Medill faculty and students at the Medill school in Evanston, Ill., to further advance the representation of Indigenous journalists in mainstream media. 

His nomination was reviewed and selected by the NAJA Major Awards Selection Committee based on the award criteria:

  • Body of journalistic work during career
  • Contribution to society through outstanding journalism
  • Recognition and respect from peers and community
  • Significant contributions to the advancement of Native Americans in the field of journalism
  • Commitment to NAJA and its values such as free press, accurate representation of Indigenous communities in media, etc.

Tom Arviso – CEO of the Navajo Times Publishing Company, Inc. and publisher of the Navajo Times newspaper

The Navajo Times Publishing Company is based in Window Rock, Ariz. on the Navajo Nation and is the only Native American owned and operated newspaper-publishing company in the world. The Navajo Times newspaper is a weekly publication and it is the largest selling Native American owned newspaper in the United States. 

A member of the Navajo Nation, Arviso is of the Toa’hani’ Clan (Near the Water Clan), born for the Ts’ah yisk’idnii’ Clan (Sage Brush Hill Clan). His maternal clan is Ta’baahi’ (Water’s Edge Clan) and his paternal clan is Tse’nahbil’nii’ (Sleep Rock People Clan). 

Originally from Window Rock, Arviso majored in journalism at Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe and at Mesa Community College in Mesa, Ariz. He is a graduate of Window Rock High School.

In September 2015, Arviso was voted to serve on the Associated Press Media Editors (APME) national board of directors. He represented small newspapers from across the U.S. and was co-chair of the Diversity Committee and a member of the First Amendment Committee. His three-year term ended in 2018.

Arviso served as the President of the board of directors of UNITY: Journalists for Diversity in 2013. UNITY was an international alliance of professional journalists associations made up journalists of color and minority journalism students from all over the world. Arviso served on the UNITY board from 2012-2014.

Arviso is a proud lifetime member of NAJA where he served on the Board of Directors as vice president, treasurer and a board member from 1994-2000. 

From 2002-2012, Arviso served on the Board of Directors of the Arizona Newspapers Association (ANA), based in Phoenix. While on the ANA board, he served as a voice and as an advocate for all minority-owned and operated newspapers, and journalists of color, in Arizona and throughout the Southwest. 

In September 2012, the APME, the American Society of News Editors and the Freedom Forum presented Arviso with The Robert G. McGruder Award for Diversity Leadership at the annual APME-ASNE convention held at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. 

In April 2012, the Society of Professional Journalists in Arizona honored Arviso with its prestigious Phil Alvidrez Award for Excellence in Journalism, at an awards ceremony held at the Heard Museum in Phoenix. 

In October 2009, Arviso was presented with the distinguished “John Peter and Anna Catherine Zenger Award for Freedom of the Press and the People’s Right to Know,” by the University of Arizona School of Journalism and the Arizona Newspapers Foundation. Arviso received the Zenger Award at ANA’s annual convention held at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism in Tempe.

In April 2000, Arviso was selected for a John S. Knight Fellowship in Journalism at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif. As a Knight Fellow in the Class of 2000-2001, Arviso studied newspaper publishing and business management at Stanford and used his studies to help him devise a business plan to separate the Navajo Times from the Navajo Nation government. He was the first full-blood Native American to have been selected for a Knight Fellowship. 

In October of 1998 Arviso was honored by the Arizona Newspapers Association with the “Freedom of Information Award.” The plaque read, “An Editor Who Gave His Community Fair Reporting of Tribal Issues. His Leadership Fostered an Understanding of the Basic Value of Journalism for Readers and Tribal Officials.”

NAJA presented Arviso with its prestigious “Wassaja Award,” in July 1997 for “extraordinary service to Native journalism.” Arviso received his award at NAJA’s annual convention in Minneapolis.

Arviso began his career with the Navajo Times in 1983 as a college intern. He later worked as a sports writer, sports editor, reporter and photographer for the Navajo Times. He was hired as the managing editor of the Navajo Times in October 1988 and assumed the duties of editor and publisher in 1993. 

A staunch believer and advocate for the First Amendment and Freedom of the Press, Arviso fought many battles with tribal government leaders and officials over editorial control and censorship of the Navajo Times for a number of years. 

To seek independence from tribal government ownership, Arviso lobbied and then convinced the Navajo Nation Council to approve the for-profit, incorporation of the Navajo Times. The tribal council voted in favor of this official legislation on October 23, 2003. 

On January 1, 2004, the Navajo Times officially began operation as the Navajo Times Publishing Company, Incorporated. For the past 17 years NTPC, Inc. has been quite successful in operating as an independent business and as an award-winning newspaper.

May 2021 marked the start of Arviso’s 36th year at the Navajo Times and his 17th year as the CEO/Publisher of the Navajo Times Publishing Company, Inc.

One particular achievement that Arviso is quite proud of is the many young and talented Native American journalists that he has employed, trained and guided over the years.

These award-winning journalists include Jason Begay, Candace Begody, Eugene Tapahe, Deenise Becenti, Marley Shebala, Manuelito Wheeler, Shondiin Silversmith, Noel Smith, Pauly Denetclaw, Ravonelle Yazzie, Sunnie Clauschichiligi, Nathan Tohtsoni, Erny Zah, Carolyn Calvin, Jan-Mikael Patterson, Leigh Jimmie, Arlyssa Becenti, Donovan Quintero, Krista Allen, Quentin Jodie, Paul Natonabah, Jack Ahasteen and Duane Beyal.

Arviso will be recognized during the 2021 National Native Media Awards virtual ceremony on Oct. 28 at 3 p.m. CT via Zoom and registration is available here.

About NAJA
The Native American Journalists Association serves more than 900 members, including media professionals working in tribal, freelance, independent and mainstream news outlets, as well as academia and students covering Indigenous communities and representing tribal nations from across North America. For more information, visit:

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