Challenges and opportunities in Native American Journalism

When Feb 17, 2014
from 06:30 PM to 09:00 PM
Where Interactive Media Lab, 124 N. First St., Louisville
Contact Name
Contact Phone 502-852-2976
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Louisville Pro Chapter

Contact: Robyn Davis Sekula, Louisville Pro Chapter,, (502) 608-6125
January 28, 2014


For immediate release


Native American Journalism program set for February
Louisville, Ky. — Journalist and community leader Loren Tapahe will speak in Louisville in February at a program organized by the Society of Professional Journalists Louisville Pro Chapter and the University of Louisville. Tapahe is president and CEO of the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Arizona and founder of the Arizona Native Scene newspaper.

Tapahe will speak on “Challenges and Opportunities in Native American Journalism” on February 17 at Interactive Media Lab, 124 N. First St., Louisville, beginning with a reception at 6:30 p.m. and presentation at 7 p.m. Journalists and the public are invited. Tapahe will be joined by Selene Phillips, an assistant professor at the University of Louisville. Phillips is Ojibwe and from the Lac du Flambeau reservation in northern Wisconsin.

Funding is provided by a Sigma Delta Chi Foundation Chapter grant, the University of Louisville’s Department of Communication; and the University of Louisville’s College of Arts & Sciences. Co-sponsors include the SPJ Louisville Pro Chapter, the University of Louisville’s SPJ Student Chapter, and the University of Louisville’s Native America Student Organization.

Phillips’ area of research is Native American journalism. She sought Tapahe to come and speak to the public to help people understand the breadth and depth of Native American culture in the U.S., and also to shed lights on some of the uneven ways that Native American journalists are treated by the press.

Although hundreds of Native American newspapers are published in the United States, when Phillips asks her students at the University of Louisville how many there are, most guess under a dozen.


“Unfortunately, most students also do not know there are more than 550 different federally recognized tribal nations that have unique relationships with the federal government,” Phillips says.

She also notes that Native American culture is still freely mocked in ways that other minority groups are not.

“Often what is despicable for other groups is considered acceptable for Indians,” Phillips says. “For example, black face is offensive; yet dressing up like Indians at Halloween or to promote sports is tolerable by mainstream standards.”


Phillips and Tapahe will discuss both how Native Americans cover their own culture in publications such as his own as well as how traditional media reports on events involving Native Americans.


Tapahe is originally from Fort Defiance, Arizona, with a bachelor of science degree in business management and a double minor in marketing and economics from Brigham Young University. He serves on the Arizona State University Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication Endowment Board. Tapahe led the Navajo Times as general manager in the early 1980s when daily production was first initiated. Tapahe also served as press officer and later the chief of staff for Navajo President Milton Bluehouse in 1998. Tapahe co-founded the Native American Journalist Association, which empowers Native journalists with programs designed to promote Native cultures.


Phillips has also worked with NAJA. She is from the Lac du Flambeau reservation and serves on the Sequoyah Research Center’s advisory board at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She served on the state of Indiana’s first Native American Council under Governor O’Bannon. She researches Native American journalism and the imagery of Native Americans in the media and teaches journalism and Native American classes. She portrays Sacagawea and Mary Todd Lincoln and is an SPJ Louisville Pro Chapter board member.


For more information, please contact Selene Phillips at, (502) 852-2976 or Robyn Davis Sekula, at or (502) 608-6125.