Mark Trahant. (Facebook photo)
By ROSELYNN WAHTOMY
FORT HALL – Shoshone-Bannock tribal member Mark Trahant was among seven outstanding leaders in Indian County honored at the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) 20th Annual Leadership Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, February 13.
Trahant was awarded the Native American Leadership Award. He is an accomplished Native American Journalist and writer of Trahant Reports.
According to the NCAI website, “As an independent journalist, Trahant elevates the presence of tribal nations and peoples through journalism, media, and innovative technologies to advance the authentic histories, stories and modern issues facing tribal nations and their citizens.”
Trahant said it was a great honor to be recognized and humbly noted the content of his work was what was most important.
“George Lavatta was one of the founders of NCAI, so a long connection there – my great uncle,” he said.
In the last few months when the health debate was gearing up Trahant did a lot of work focusing on Medicaid and the connection within the Indian Health system. He also did a comprehensive database of people running for public office.
Although Trahant was unable to attend the event, many spoke on the effect he has come to have in Indian Country.
"I've heard Mark Trahant's name since the 1980s when he was the founder of Navajo Nation Today, one of the only independent daily tribal newspapers ever. Now, in 2018, Trahant is more relevant than ever with his independent work in analyzing and contextualizing how national news affects Native American communities. Mark Trahant is one of the boldest leaders ever seen in Native American journalism," said Jason Begay, Assistant Professor, University of Montana School of Journalism.
"Mark Trahant is widely considered one of the top journalists from and for Indian Country of the last several decades. His knowledge and coverage of federal Indian policy issues and their impact on the health and social and economic wellbeing of Native people is second to none. His books and countless articles are excellent resources for tribal leaders and others concerned about the present and future of tribal nations and communities," said Chairman W. Ron Allen, Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe.
"In our current era where some dismiss climate change, use racial slurs like 'Pocahontas,' and decry facts as fake news, the need for the fourth estate — that is a free media to be a check and balance on government — becomes critical. Mark Trahant has made it his purpose to ensure an Indian voice is heard in a society that finds it uncomfortable or inconvenient to look directly at history and contemporary conditions in Native America. Vine Deloria, Jr. set the standard and Mark's doing a great job honoring this legacy through his work,” said Aaron Payment, first Vice-President, National Congress of American Indians.
"Mark Trahant has been critical in ensuring that Native people are heard, seen, and valued in the electoral process, and also now in how we govern. His ability to navigate non-Native systems and play the role of interpreter to ensure that the mainstream media is covering us makes all the difference. Because of social media and the ability to self-publish, now he is telling our truths in a way that hasn't happened before. I don't know that I could be running for Lieutenant Governor without his ability to tell stories," said Representative Peggy Flanagan, Minnesota House of Representatives.
Flanagan’s comment was the most touching to Trahant.
"Mark's impact on tribal media and Native journalism has been profound and indelible. His contributions as a practicing journalist and thought leader have shaped and improved the standing of all Native journalists and the communities they serve. Mark has set a new standard for other Native journalists about what is possible in pursuit of ethical, truthful and insightful storytelling," said Bryan Pollard, President, Board of Directors, Native American Journalists Association