MISSOULA – A project that began at the University of Montana School of Journalism to investigate and document national trends affecting Montana’s tribal nations is now fully online and publicly accessible.
Every issue of the UM School of Journalism’s Native News Project is now available online courtesy of UM’s Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library and ScholarWorks. The issues were digitized from physical print copies held by the Native News Project faculty and the library’s Archives and Special Collections.
Since the project was digitized last year, UM oral history curator Hannah Soukup said Native News has been downloaded almost 100 times by users all over the world, including by a university in Frankfurt, Germany.
“I’m thrilled to be able to make this publication more widely available to UM students and the general public,” Soukup said.
She said the most popular issue to date is the 2018 “In Their Hands” piece, which explores the evolution and current state of tribal self-governance on each of Montana’s reservations.
The Native News Honors Project is an annual publication that is reported, photographed, edited and designed by students in the UM School of Journalism. Each year, teams of students travel to Montana’s seven Indian reservations to investigate and document how news trends affect the state’s Indigenous population with in-depth stories, photographs and videos. They also report on issues affecting urban Indians. The stories appear in the nationally distributed Montana Native News tabloid, which was first published in 1992 as a stand-alone, special report.
UM Professor Emeritus Carol Van Valkenburg said she started the project after observing that issues of concern to the state’s Native Americans were not being covered in-depth by the news media.
“We wanted to look closely at the history, culture and social issues that shape the lives of Montana's 12 Indian tribes and make certain their voices and experiences were represented,” Valkenburg said. “We also recognized that most of our students had too little experience reporting on people who were not like them and had little insight into the state’s largest minority population. Our Native students in the course helped direct the students’ research and introduced them to sources who helped shape their stories.”
What started as a print-only publication later expanded into a printed tabloid and a multimedia online project that includes stories, photographs and short documentary films. The graduates of the class over the last three decades have improved coverage of Native issues in the region as they took jobs in the professional media, Valkenburg said.
To read the Montana Native News Project issues, visit https://scholarworks.umt.edu/nativenews_asc/.
To learn more about the project, visit https://jour.umt.edu/student-projects. Native News complements other collections of UM student publications in ScholarWorks, including the Forestry Kaimin, Montana Kaimin and the Black Student Union yearbook, Watani.