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Tom Arviso Jr. receives 2021 NAJA-Medill Milestone Achievement Award

Arviso is CEO of the Navajo Times Publishing Company, Inc., publisher of Navajo Times newspaper

August 26, 2021
Tom Arviso headshot.
Tom Arviso Jr. recipient of 2021 NAJA-Medill Milestone Achievement Award

EVANSTON, ILL. -- The Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) and Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications have selected Tom Arviso Jr. as the 2021 NAJA-Medill Milestone Achievement Award recipient.

Arviso is the CEO of the Navajo Times Publishing Company and publisher of the Navajo Times. The award recognizes an individual who has had a lasting effect on media to the benefit of Indigenous communities. Given by NAJA and Medill, the award celebrates and encourages responsible storytelling and journalism in Indian Country.

“I am truly honored and humbled to receive this honor from Medill,” said Arviso. “When the NAJA office notified me of the award, I was totally surprised. However, it was a pleasant surprise and a great way to start the day.

“I’ve been working in journalism for a long time now, specifically Native journalism, and I still enjoy what I do for a living. I believe that as journalists, our role and responsibility to our Native people and to all of our readers, is as important and needed as any time ever. The whole COVID-19 pandemic is a good example of the importance of the work we do for our families, friends and people. It is a role that I proudly acknowledged and accepted many years ago when I was a young sports writer, and I continue to do so today as the leader of our company and newspaper. The news never stops and neither does our responsibility as story tellers and communicators.”

“Medill is delighted to continue our partnership with NAJA to recognize Native American journalists who are making a true difference,” said Medill Dean Charles Whitaker. “Tom has shown he is committed to the important work of elevating stories of Indigenous communities, which need to be included in mainstream media.”

Arviso is a lifetime member of NAJA, where he served on the Board of Directors as vice president, treasurer and a board member from 1994 to 2000.

"Tom Arviso is one of the most dedicated journalists I know,” said Patty Loew, Medill professor and director of the Center for Native American and Indigenous Research at Northwestern. “For decades he has connected Indian Country and the world with authentic, insightful stories about Native people. There is no one more deserving of this award."

This isn’t Arviso’s first time receiving an award from NAJA. In July 1997, NAJA presented him with its “Wassaja Award for extraordinary service to Native journalism.”

An advocate for the First Amendment, Arviso has fought against editorial control and censorship of the Navajo Times.

In April 2000, Arviso was selected for a John S. Knight Fellowship in Journalism at Stanford University. He was the first full-blood Native American to have been selected for a Knight Fellowship.

As a Knight Fellow, Arviso studied newspaper publishing and business management at Stanford and used his studies to help him devise a business plan to separate the Navajo Times from the Navajo Nation government.

To seek independence from tribal government ownership, Arviso lobbied and then convinced the Navajo Nation Council to approve the for-profit incorporation of the Navajo Times. The tribal council voted in favor of this official legislation on October 23, 2003.

May 2021 marked the start of Arviso’s 36th year at the Navajo Times and his 17th year as the CEO/Publisher of the Navajo Times Publishing Company, Inc.

From 2002 to 2012, Arviso served on the Board of Directors of the Arizona Newspapers Association, based in Phoenix. While on the ANA board, he served as an advocate for all minority-owned and operated newspapers, and journalists of color in Arizona and throughout the Southwest.

A member of the Navajo Nation, Arviso is of the Toa’hani’ Clan (Near the Water Clan), born for the Ts’ah yisk’idnii’ Clan (Sage Brush Hill Clan). His maternal clan is Ta’baahi’ (Water’s Edge Clan) and his paternal clan is Tse’nahbil’nii’ (Sleep Rock People Clan).

Arviso plans to visit Evanston Nov. 9 to receive the award, which includes a $5,000 cash prize. He will join 2020 winner Lori Edmo to discuss representation of Indigenous journalists in mainstream media.

“I am really happy and honored for this award but I am nothing without my family, my hard-working staff, and my true friends,” said Arviso. “It is through their support, understanding and patience with me, that I am still working in journalism and helping my Navajo and Native people the best way I know how. I proudly share this moment with all of them.”

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