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Native Voices, Native Media, Native Truths

CHANDLER, AZ –Both Governor Stephen Roe Lewis of the Gila River Indian Community and Crystal Echohawk, Founder and CEO of IllumiNative, centered their remarks during the 2019 Native Broadcast Summit on the need for Native Americans to reclaim our right to shape our own identities within the dominant culture.

Echohawk, a member of the Pawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, stated Native Americans “for too long have been told we are invisible and don’t count.” Lewis agreed, emphasizing that, “Native people should claim their inherent right to share our stories.”

Released in 2018, a body of studies compiled under the umbrella of “Reclaim Native Truth” was commissioned by First Nations Development Institute and Echohawk Consulting. The studies address toxic stereotypes, invisibility, and false narratives about Native peoples. Echohawk stated there is a national need to illuminate Native voices and called upon media and Native citizens to continue telling the stories of their Nations.

Native Public Media welcomed a record attendance of 75 broadcast professionals and media makers to the Southwest for the Native Broadcast Summit. The Summit provided space for the sharing of best practices about ways Native Americans overcome media invisibility including opportunities to reclaim and tell their truths -- an overarching theme of the 2019 summit.

Loris Taylor, NPM President and CEO, acknowledged that major global shifts are threatening media and challenging local voices to be heard, especially among Native people who are already experiencing invisibility in national stories.

“In order to move the dial on realizing our mission to encourage engaged, independent, healthy Native communities through media access, control, and ownership, a lot of work on behalf of our media eco-system is in collaboration with others. At the end of the day, we have the responsibility and privilege of making sure that Native voices and our truths are told and heard on our very own broadcast network. We have been successfully telling our stories using our own agency for decades on Native radio and television, and we intend to stay,” concludes Taylor.

The 2019 Native Broadcast Summit was made possible by Gila River Telecommunications, Inc., the First Nations Development Institute, the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and Open Society Institute.

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