Building a news operation: The goal remains a national broadcast

Indian Country Today's fall fundraising campaign #ICTChampions

A year ago Indian Country Today readers helped us launch the first ever election night broadcast. Working with our partners FNX: First Nations Experience and Native Voice One, we brought together some forty hard-working Native journalists and we reported the national election live.

We heard from a lot of people across the country who watched the events unfold on cable, on the Internet, and at election watch parties. Thank you for that.

Across the scope of the evening, viewers watched as history-making candidates won their elections. Notably, the "election calls" for the first two Native women to earn congressional seats — Deb Haaland, and Sharice Davids — as well as Peggy Flanagan's election as the Lt. Governor of Minnesota. Great stories that invoked a sense of fairness because there was a representation that did not exist before that night.

The evening was filled with celebration on social media as many Native people from across the country tweeted their support using the hashtags #NativeElectionNight and #NativeVote18.

Now, a year later, Indian Country Today is building a new kind of news enterprise, one that will be sustainable and provide a long term career path for young people as Native American journalists.

Now the ask. We need your help and generosity. The cost of this enterprise will be $2.4 million a year. We will raise most of that from the public media channels such as foundations and corporations.

We need a variety of donors, large and small.

On the upper deck, we are reaching out to the donors who can invest $5,000. We call this The Phoenix 100. We’ve named it that because the first tribal newspaper was the Phoenix, we are now based in Phoenix, and we need 100-plus “people” to contribute $5,000. (We are also grateful for our partnership with the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University in Phoenix.)

Our support can come from individuals. Or tribes. Or law firms. Or entrepreneurs. We have already been honored with contributions (even before we asked) from the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma and the Muckleshoot Tribe in Washington. (And I will be a charter member because Indian Country Today is that important to me.)

If you can’t do the Phoenix 100 that’s OK. You can still help. Some readers will help us with a $1,000 donation. Or even a hundred bucks.

No matter the amount we need you to be our partner. Your support demonstrates to our other funding partners about the significance of this venture. It tells them that Indian Country thinks this worth doing. (We will list our public donors on our "About Us" page. A few choose to remain anonymous.)

We decided from the beginning that we wanted Indian Country Today to be free. There are no subscriptions (or even fees for media that use our content). We think that news in Indian Country should be, as Cherokee Chief John Ross once said, “as free as the breeze.” But to do that we need people to support our cause.

I think a lot about the perception of American Indians and Alaska Natives in the media. We all know the stereotypes and narratives that come out of Hollywood or Washington. So a news program, one that reaches millions of people via public television stations, has the chance to change the story, showing the beauty, intelligence, and aspirations of Native people.

Thank you for helping us make that so. Please stay in touch as we start these next steps.

Mark Trahant, editor, Indian Country Today

To join click on any story in the News Huddle. This is a "locked room" but there should be instructions on how to become a member and open the lock.

Supporters: Any amount.

We list members, legacy, and Phoenix 100 names in our masthead.

Benefits: Stickers, buttons

Members: $100 or $10 a month.


Legacy member: $1,000 or 100 a month.

Benefits: Stickers, buttons


Socks (until gone)

Monthly newsletter

The Phoenix 100: $5,000 or more.

Elias Boudinot was the first editor of a tribal newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix. He called the medium “a spacious channel.” That’s our goal creating an extraordinary network for Indigenous thought. The Phoenix 100 commemorates that history — as well as our new home in Phoenix at the Cronkite School.

Benefits: Stickers, buttons

Newsletter (not the current one, but one generated by The Maven)

Socks (until gone)


Speakers bureau