I'm the only Native journalist in my newsroom. Taylor Notah is one of many

"It’s important to me to bring awareness of my people to my State Press readers — to bring something back to my community"

Twice a week, I walk into a white newsroom. The floors and walls are a bright eggshell – or were at one point – and most of the people are their own unique shade too. 

We get along well, and I’m beyond happy at The State Press, but I’m left wondering what it would be like to write for a publication in which all of my peers and superiors are like me – Native American.

Taylor Notah, an ASU journalism alumna and the lead editor at Turning Points Magazine, a publication with an all-Native American staff, knows what it’s like. 

Notah said she felt overwhelmed at The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, where she was often the only Native student in her classes. 

“It feels like everyone’s looking at you … like you’re magnified,” she said.

She said this experience was hard for her as someone shy by nature and that feeling like an outcast discouraged her. But joining Turning Points made Notah feel liberated and at home. 

“I think it helped to show me that I do have a place and a voice on campus,” she said.

She said the first thing she noticed when she joined was that everybody working for Turning Points seemed to be working toward the same goal: bringing something back to their homelands. 

“We’re all indigenous,” she said. “We all had these same teachings and these goals for what we wanted to bring back to our communities.”

I try to do the same here at State Press. I wrote an article during my first semester of reporting about my experience being adopted into the Quinault Indian Nation, a people that most readers have probably never heard of before.

I also regularly write articles about Native American affairs on campus, whether they be profiles on Native students or coverage of events celebrating the heritage of those students at ASU.

It’s important to me to bring awareness of my people to my State Press readers — to bring something back to my community.

Notah said seeing other Native American students work and strive for her same ambitions gave her courage to push forward in her career.

“It gave me more hope that … even though we’re so small in number, our goals are huge,” she said.

She said that writing for a publication “by Native students for Native students” offers visibility to a group she said is usually invisible, herself included.

Walking into a newsroom full of Native American peers gave her a sense of familiarity that she couldn’t find in the Cronkite News newsroom, Notah said. 

“I think being at my first meeting for Turning Points felt like I was bringing my tools and knowledge of journalism into a place where I feel accepted and welcomed,” she said. “My previous senior editor would wear the most beautiful Native jewelry, and my in-laws are Navajo silversmiths, so I would see it and know how it was made and what the meaning behind her turquoise was.”

In the newsroom I’m in, I don’t see many things like that, but I find a different form of comfort and finding a piece of my home here at The State Press.

When I used to wear a jade feather necklace every day, some fellow reporters were curious and would ask me about it. I would explain the significance of jade in the Native community and the further significance that it was handmade by a vendor on my reservation in Washington.

The curiosity of my State Press peers helps me to find my home by speaking about my culture — in the same way that Notah finds her home in the shared culture of the Turning Points newsroom.

Notah said that she felt she was fighting against the invisibility of Native Americans in media by being a part of a predominantly white publication at Cronkite News, a sentiment that I relate to daily here at The State Press.

I feel that my presence here alone proves that Native Americans have a voice worth hearing — a voice that I am truly proud to have contributed to in my time at The State Press. 


Reach the reporter at japere38@asu.edu or follow @jsphprzz on Twitter.

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