Posts Tagged ‘Native American Journalists Association’

Support me as I compete in my first Triathlon and raise money for the Native American Journalists Association

June 25, 2012

Hello Everyone!

I am trying to raise funds for the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA), a non-profit that:

“Serves and empowers Native journalists through programs and actions designed to enrich journalism and promote Native cultures.

NAJA recognizes Native Americans as distinct peoples based on tradition and culture. In this spirit, NAJA educates and unifies its membership through journalism programs that promote diversity and defends challenges to free press, speech and expression. NAJA is committed to increase the representation of Native journalists in mainstream media. NAJA encourages both mainstream and tribal media to attain the highest standards of professionalism, ethics and responsibility.”

NAJA has recently had reductions in financial help, so each of our board members look to find ways to give back to the organization through personal donations.

Last year, I held a food sale, an Indian taco with drink, to raise money.  Considering I just helped launch a website geared toward getting Native people to live healthy lifestyles (, I figured, I probably should do something else.  On July 15th, I will be competing in my first triathlon, the Midwest Mayhem triathlon in Lawrence, Kansas.  I was inspired by my children who recently competed in the Ironkids triathlon, to try this new event.

I am very excited and hope this will encourage others as well to try new things.  I like for people to follow my progress as I train and ultimately finish this event as a way to raise funds for NAJA.

So I am asking any person or media organization to donate any amount they can give, all funds will be used by NAJA for its general operations funds.

If you can help donate for this worthy cause of making sure NAJA continues to its mission of empowering Native Journalists, please do so. All donations will be recognized on my blog at and with any donation over $50, if you send me a logo to use, I will put it on my shirt or shorts while I am competing.  I know other athletes who are sponsored by energy foods, drinks, companies but I  like to show off your organization while I am competing.  I hope that I will get enough support from our communities to help me finish this triathlon (which I plan on finishing!); it truly will be an honor to represent you all as well.


Rhonda LeValdo

President, Native American Journalists Association

Donations can be sent to myself: 1600 Haskell #177 Lawrence, Kansas 66044

Or our NAJA offices at: Univ. of OK, Gaylord College, 395 W.  Lindsey, Norman, OK 73019

I do have PayPal id: RhondaLeValdo

If anyone has any questions do not hesitate to contact me at


NAJA statement on shutting down of Hoopa Valley tribal newspaper

July 6, 2011

July 6, 2011

To the Hoopa Valley Tribal Council,
The Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) is disappointed about the news that your tribal newspaper “The Two Rivers Tribune” has been shut down because of financial situations and story sensitivity issues.  We at NAJA encourage freedom of the press for all reporters/editors, especially for your tribal paper.

According to your own bylaws:  The Hoopa Valley Tribe, in exercising its powers of self-government, shall not:

a. Make or enforce any law prohibiting the free exercise of religion, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people to peaceably assemble and to petition for a redress of grievances;

The tribal council is illegally violating their rights by shutting down the paper.  All journalists have a right to hold their own opinion without interference from the government.

Tribal newspapers are the main conduit for the flow of information from tribal officials to tribal members.  There are none more dedicated to their own tribal interests than those newspaper staff people. Shutting down your tribal newspaper impacts the whole tribe and those cities around your tribe. Tribal members will not get the valuable tribal information from local or regional newspapers as they would from their own newspaper.
Now your tribal officials and tribal members will receive news from journalists who probably do not understand sovereignty, culture or history.  We ask that you take another look at the importance of your tribal newspaper and let your journalists do their jobs.


Rhonda LeValdo
President, Native American Journalists Association
OU Gaylord College
395 W Lindsey
Norman, Oklahoma 73019-4201
405 325-9008

NAJA Statement on “Geronimo” Codename for Bin Laden Killing

May 4, 2011

The Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) is very grateful and proud that the United States government has captured one of the biggest terrorists known to mankind.  However, in doing so, the U.S. government has contributed to the stereotyping of Native Americans by utilizing a historical Native icon such as Geronimo, to set the scene for American ridicule by comparing him to the capturing and killing of Osama Bin Laden.

The information distributed to multiple-media sources across the nation, on the U.S. government’s behalf, has proved to the Native Nations across the board, that the American people in addition to the U.S. government still don’t understand that we, the Native People of this land, are not here for constant public humiliation.

In the New York Time’s article, “Clues Gradually Led to the Location of Osama Bin Laden, Leon E. Panetta, the C.I.A. director, narrated “We have a visual on Geronimo,” he said.  A few minutes later: “Geronimo EKIA.”   Enemy Killed In Action.

Since this information hit the news stands through out the nation, NAJA has received numerous call of complaints from our fellow colleagues and tribal members who were upset to find out that again, our Native People are being equated to a terrorist/murderer/enemy number one.  We ask the Federal Government could there not have been another name used in reference to this attack?  Could we not have used another infamous enemy in reference to Bin Laden perhaps, Custer or Columbus? Our Native people have served in this country’s military in the highest numbers per capita of any racial group and this is the way they are repaid for their service given to the U.S.?

Native American soldiers helped the U.S. in World War 2 with their language used as codes.   George Red Elk, Comanche Indian Veterans Association Commander said he was, too, “very upset of the code name that was chosen for the operation of killing Osama Bin Laden.  The Comanche Nation, as well as all Native American Nations, have served this country honorably and many have paid the ultimate sacrifice to ensure we can still have the freedoms that are in our U.S. Constitution.”

Since 2001, 61 American Indians and Alaskan Natives have died defending our country in Afghanistan and Iraq. More than 400 have been wounded. Native Nations also lost Lori Piestewa, the Hopi woman, believed to be the first Native American woman ever to die in combat while serving in the U.S. military.   All our Native service men and women have served honorably and continue to serve.

This is not a matter of being sensitive, it’s a matter of respect. It’s time the U.S. respect the original people of this land and the Native people who step up to defend our freedoms.

It is unacceptable for the U.S. to equate Geronimo with Osama bin Laden.  Geronimo stood up for his people, their traditions, and the land they lived upon.  Geronimo was no terrorist.  He was a member of North America’s homeland security, and Native North Americans will never forget that.

We ask the federal government to apologize for the use of Geronimo’s name with this operation as many of our Native Nations have been offended.   As every culture, we too have our own concepts of how American history played out and we believe that we can all agree to disagree.

Regardless, the U.S government has a responsibility to the people of this country, Native people are very much a part of and for that reason, utilizing the name Geronimo was an unacceptable choice of words.

Rhonda LeValdo, President

Native American Journalists Association

A Call To Students and Native American/Alaskan Native Journalists

April 23, 2011

The Native American Journalists Association is hosting its annual conference “Storytelling through New Media” in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida July 13-17, 2011.  We invite students to participate in our Project Phoenix workshop (high school) and Native Voice (college) workshop that has students working with Native American journalists in a newsroom to produce a newspaper, audio and video stories.  These projects were often the stepping stone for many of our current Native journalists.

I encourage all students to submit an application, they can be found on our NAJA website.  The deadline is May 1st.

The early bird conference registration is May 1st as well, if you plan on attending the NAJA conference, the tentative schedule is also up, with sessions with: Google, Society of Professional Journalist, Health reporting, The Reynolds School of Business on “Business Reporting”, Investigative Reporting: The Murder of Anna Mae Pictou Aquash by AIM and much more to announce.   Save $100 on registration and get registered by May 1st!

Letter to Editor of Union Weekly at California State U.-Long Beach

March 18, 2011

To the Union Weekly Editor,


The article titled “Pow Wow Wow Yippee Yo Yippy Yay” in your March 14, 2011 edition of the Union Weekly was a horrible choice for a headline as well as being very disrespectful in content towards Native Americans.

Your paper and reporter owe the Native American communities and the student group who held the powwow an apology for this article that shows a complete lack of understanding of the event they were attending. Did the reporter ask what the event was for? What does it mean to the Native People attending?   The use of words to describe Native American attire is not garb; it is regalia, or traditional dress.  Also, again if your reporter had asked about why people were putting down money for the dancers was not to pay them for dancing.  If this article was merely mocking the powwow, again, Native Peoples are not things for your entertainment.  There is a reason they held this event.

This lack of understanding about Native Americans is why there is a need to have diversity courses.   The Native American Journalists Associations is here for journalists if and when they need help covering stories.

We ask again an apology be issued to Native American communities.





Rhonda LeValdo, President, Native American Journalists Association

395 W. Lindsey

Norman, Oklahoma 73019

Call for 2011 Native Media Awards Presented by the Native American Journalists Association

March 7, 2011

Hey Journalists, Editors, Photographers, Videographers, Radio, TV broadcasters and anyone else wanting to submit media, the deadline for the 2011 Native Media Awards is March 15th 2011!

If you have seen a great story, a great video, radio story, and or picture, get the journalist to submit them to our media awards contest that highlights the best Native American Journalism has to offer. We have many categories please check them out at for more information.

The 2011 Native Media Awards will be held in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida at our annual NAJA conference. We will let you know if you are a winner so you can be there in person to pick up the award!

So please pass the information along to your tribal media people and or journalists you might know who might be interested!



Letter to Fox Nation News

November 18, 2010

November 17, 2010
Re: Fox News: “Obama Praises Indian Chief Who Killed U.S. General” (Nov.15, 2010) 

To Fox Nation News Editor:

The headline for your website: is a big miss for your news organization in trying to educate the masses on who killed Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer at the Battle of Little Bighorn, not to mention a travesty in trying to praise Custer’s actions and make him look like a victim.

The Native American Journalists Association is here to make sure news organizations are held accountable for their mistakes in reporting and writing the news when involving Native Nations. This headline is totally inaccurate as Chief Sitting Bull was not the person who killed General Custer. If your organization fully researched the selections for President Barack Obama’s book “Of Thee I Sing”, you might have caught this error. One might also point out that Lieutenant Custer was responsible for the slaughter of many Native American men, women and children in the Washita Massacre.

The intent of including Chief Sitting Bull in President Obama’s book appears to be a diversity lesson in the history of North America, one that many people could learn from and not the praising of a killer like your headline reads. We ask you issue an apology to the Native American Nations across this country who consider Sitting Bull a hero and a warrior who stood up for his people.


Rhonda LeValdo
President, Native American Journalists Association


Society of Professional Journalists and Native American Journalists Association collaboration

October 20, 2010

To our Native American Journalists Association members,

I wanted to inform you of a panel session titled “World within Worlds” held at the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Conference in Las Vegas, NV earlier this month.  The session was about the issues Native American Journalists face.  The session was organized and moderated by Dr. Becky Tallent, assistant professor at the University of Idaho with panelists: Mr. Tom Arviso, Managing Editor Navajo Times; Bryan Pollard, Editor of the Cherokee Phoenix, Jolene Schonchin, Editor Comanche Nation News; Jeff Harjo, Executive Director of NAJA, and myself, Rhonda LeValdo, President, NAJA.

We were asked various questions from freedom of the press issues to how non-native reporters can gain trust within the Native communities.  I was really impressed with the dialogue and felt a lot of issues were brought up within the hour and a half we were allotted.

Along with this panel session, our NAJA members were invited to talk with the SPJ board about NAJA collaborating with SPJ on issues that affect both organizations.  Much discussion was brought up again in particular with regards to Ethics issues we face just like mainstream journalists.  In light of our talks, the incoming SPJ President Hagit Limor and sitting President Kevin Z. Smith offered SPJ’s services to hold sessions on ethics issues.  We at NAJA gladly accepted their offer and look forward to having their presence at the 2011 NAJA conference.

As we start planning our next conference, I want to remind you that if you have any suggestions for panel sessions, speakers, honorees, please let us know.  We would like to make sure your ideas are included in the discussion for the planning of the 2011 Conference.  Also, if anyone is located in the Ft. Lauderdale area, and would like to volunteer to be on the local planning committee, please get in contact with us.

Rhonda LeValdo
President, Native American Journalists Association

Call to members and potential future members of the Native American Journalists Association

September 22, 2010

As we move into the next conference year, I would like to let our NAJA members know, if you would like to help us out, give suggestions for honorees, panels, please let us know.  Our convention can only be better with more people working to make it a great event.

While one of the main duties for our Board of Directors is to work on the convention items – the agenda, panels, silent auction, honorees, student projects, elections and award recipients – it is a lot to do for nine people and our executive director as we split up duties between us all.  Sometimes an idea may be missed in conversation, so any other people that can give us suggestions, we welcome.

As we go into our 27th year of NAJA, there are a ton of people out there who have done so much to keep our organization going.  Some people donate in the form of money, others in their time.  We appreciate any more comments on what you want at our next conference.  We will also be letting you all know very soon where we stand on our next location for NAJA 2011.

Thank you,

Rhonda LeValdo
President, Native American Journalists Association

For the latest NAJA news and updates, please visit our website at:

Letter to Editor of Wisconsin Newspaper- addressing Native American Stereotypes

September 14, 2010

The Wisconsin State Journal newspaper published this story on the Iron Man triathlon, where some supporters of the participants dressed up in costumes.  One person dressed up as a Native American.

Here’s a link to the story:

I felt this story needed to be addressed. I have enclosed the letter to the editor I have sent.

September 14, 2010

To the Editor of the Wisconsin State Journal:

I am writing in response to a story posted September 12, 2010 about the “Triathletes met with encouragement in costume” by Samara Kalk Derby.  The picture shown with a man dressed as a Native American, wearing a loincloth and headdress is an appalling and a blaring image of a stereotype of Native Americans conveying that we are only here to amuse you.  Native Americans are not a character for your paper’s entertainment. 

What is more upsetting is that Wisconsin recently was the first state to pass a law that banned Race-Based School Team names and logos. Many Native Americans were glad that Wisconsin stepped it up a notch to recognize that stereotypes of Native Americans should not be tolerated.

With this story, your paper has diminished Native peoples role as a person to a thing to be laughed at and unknowingly encouraging others that it is all right to do this.  I would hope that young children were not exposed to these actions, because they may get the perception that it is okay to make fun of another race.  If a child saw this man dressed as a Native American, then they think, it is acceptable to dress like a Native American and the cycle continues.

The Native American Journalists Association is against any stereotypes of Native people.  We would ask that your paper question the use of this picture and ask, could it offend any of our readers? Are any of our readers Native American?  If you would like any information regarding these types of issues, our organization is willing to help out.


Rhonda LeValdo

President, Native American Journalists Association

Native American Journalists Association
OU Gaylord College
395 W Lindsey
Norman, Oklahoma 73019-4201
405 325-9008 or