On August 9-12, 2023, NPAIHB Communications Director Jonas Greene and Communications Manager Kira Rea attended the Native American Journalist’s Association (NAJA) “2023 Native Media Conference” in Winnipeg, Canada, on Treaty No. 1 territory, the traditional lands of the Anishinabe, Ininew, Oji-Cree, Dene, Dakota, and Métis nations.
The Indigenous Journalist’s Association (IJA, formerly NAJA) mission brings together native creatives working in traditional and alternative media to enrich indigenous representation in communications spaces. The event allowed NPAIHB communicators to network with fellow creatives in Indian Country and further establish the legitimacy of NPAIHB’s tribal public health messaging methodology. Amongst the other 200+ attendees included editorial staff from The New York Times, National Geographic, Smithsonian’s American Indian Magazine, Indian Country Today, and even the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde’s very own Smoke Signals!
Sessions covered various media topics, including interview skills and training, reporting on repatriation and reconciliation efforts, pitching to stakeholders, recognizing misinformation in media, accessing data, and the Freedom of Information Act.
During the “Developing Community Partnerships” track, Indian Country Today Editor-at-large Mark Trahant (Shoshone-Bannock) spoke on the importance of native-led media, “partnerships are the DNA… but relationships must be built first.”
Social media, which in itself covers a broad spectrum of platforms and services, is an essential tool in advocating for health justice. It can foster patients’ autonomy by supporting information provided in a traditional healthcare setting. It can also assist health professionals by strengthening an organization’s exposure and funding position. However, while engagement targets are a necessary component in aiding communicators in recognizing what does and doesn’t work as a messaging technique – NPAIHB communicators are not bound by, and complacent to, traditional engagement targets like ‘clicks’ or ‘reactions’ over the distribution of crucial information.
At its core, NPAIHB is an organization whose services function through communication. Preparing, creating, and distributing resources, programs, PSAs, and media packages; hosting and attending events; contacting Tribal communities and Tribal staff directly; and developing
and lobbying policy all fall under the communications umbrella. It is perhaps the greatest responsibility of all roles within NPAIHB to communicate effectively.