Aliyah Chavez and Tsanavi Spoonhunter will join Indian Country Today as tribal media fellows this summer.
As graduate students, both were part of the 40 Native journalists who covered Native Election Night with Indian Country Today, First Nations Experience and Native Voice One. Chavez and Spoonhunter reported and communicated election results to the anchors for five hours straight.
Chavez, Kewa Pueblo, graduates from Stanford University this spring with her masters in journalism. She also received her bachelor’s degree in communication from the university.
She brings in her experience from newsrooms, such as NBC's The Today Show, the Peninsula Press and the West Valley View, and hopes to strengthen her reporting chops.
“I hope to expand my toolkit as a reporter by paying attention to the stories that people want to hear about. I believe that we are all storytellers with unique ideas and perspectives. I invite people to reach out to me with news tips or just to say hello!” she said. She’s interested in telling stories on politics, education, health and technology.
Chavez adds the Rowland and Pat Rebele Journalism Internship Program to her resume by the end of this summer. The program is part of Stanford’s communication department that encourages real-life experiences for journalism students.
The Phoenix bureau, Indian Country Today’s new headquarters, also takes her closer to New Mexico, her home state.
“I am looking forward to using all of the skills that I've learned at Stanford to tell important stories, to work with some of the most talented journalists in Indian Country and to be closer to my home state of New Mexico!” she said.
Spoonhunter, a descendant of the Northern Paiute, Lakota and Northern Arapaho Nations, finishes up her first year in her two-year graduate program at the University of California, Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. Her focus is documentary filmmaking.
In 2018 she won the Best Director Award from the Reynold School of Journalism. She was a fellow for the Native American Journalists Association in 2014 to 2015, as well as the association’s Columbia School of Journalism fellowship.
Her most recent documentary, which she directed and produced, Sagebrush Heathen will be featured at the Nevada Museum of Art this summer.
Her reporting in Indian Country has included covering the Department of Urban Housing and Development on reservation, and disputes between tribes and government agencies.
Spoonhunter joins this year’s Chips Quinn Scholars Program for Diversity in Journalism, a program run by the Freedom Forum Institute since 1991. The program starts their one-week multimedia training next week in Nashville and apply those skills to an internship with a news organization in the country for 10 or 12 weeks.
The award-winning director looks forward to joining Chavez in the new bureau and gaining more experience.
“I know that this experience will be fulfilling because I'll be reporting on issues that are important to me and my community,” she said. “I'm eager to produce content that will keep our audience as informed as possible and is reflective of the issues that they are uniquely impacted by.”
Editor Mark Trahant, Shoshone-Bannock, is excited to work with the young journalists again.
“I am constantly blown away by the talent in Indian Country. Aliyah Chavez and Tsanavi Spoonhunter showed up on election night as professionals,” he said. “They had done their homework, were prepared, and delivered solid journalism. I am looking forward to working with them again — and learning from them.”
Indian Country Today's tribal media fellowships are supported by a grant from the Bay and Paul Foundations. Fellowship applications are accepted on a rotating basis. Indian Country Today is eager to collaborate with reporters, producers, photographers and media professionals for a short time frame in one of three newsrooms.
Contact Mark Trahant for more information about the fellowship, mtrahant@IndianCountryToday.com.