names former fellow and digital reporter as newscast anchor
Aliyah Chavez is from
Kewa Pueblo, New Mexico. (Photo by LoriLei Chavez)
Aliyah Chavez has dreamt of being on a television
news program since her childhood. Now her dream is coming true.
She is now the anchor for ICT's newscast, the news organization
announced Tuesday at the Indian
Gaming Tradeshow & Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada.
"When I got the news that I was chosen to be the
permanent anchor of Indian Country Today, I was over the moon. So
excited," she said. "As a young girl growing up on the Rez, I never
dreamed this would be possible. But I dreamt and worked and
here we are!"
The daily half-hour newscast started in March 2020,
the start of the pandemic, and has evolved exponentially since with
ICT Editor Mark Trahant and Executive Producer Patty Talahongva,
Naming Chavez, Kewa Pueblo, as anchor of "ICT Newscast
with Aliyah Chavez" pushes the platform in the direction of reaching
a younger audience and more Indigenous communities.
"Our growth is now a fuel for careers for our youth.
Our goal is to create an environment where people can do their best
work, telling the stories that change the narrative about our world,"
Trahant announced in Nevada. "Our goal is a national news broadcast
that covers and serves all of Indian Country.
"One of the cool things about Aliyah as the anchor
is that we are reminding our readers and viewers about a long tradition
of Indian women as storytellers," Trahant, Shoshone-Bannock, said.
"We need young people to see her on TV and think, 'I can do
that.' 'I want that job.'"
The newscast runs on a variety of PBS stations nationwide
in Alaska, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, New Mexico, Oklahoma
and Arizona, and that includes urban areas such as Denver, Los Angeles
and Chicago. It also reaches an international audience in Canada
"The success of ICT is a long-term venture and that
means building a platform for the next generation," Trahant said.
"I'm so pleased that Aliyah Chavez is taking up the mantle. She's
a solid journalist who cares about accuracy and getting the story
right and bringing into the narrative an authentic Indigenous voice."
Chavez's strong work ethic helped her learn and
grow, and take on new responsibilities. She said she's motivated
by the company's mission to serve Indigenous communities with news,
entertainment, and opinion. She's also aware Native people are underrepresented
in the media, "which affects how people view us and how much people
care about our issues."
"I will work insanely hard to make sure that the
news coming out of our newsroom is stories that are not only accurate
but stories that are interesting, stories that are important to
tell," Chavez said.
ICT vice president for broadcasting Shirley Sneve,
Rosebud Sioux Tribe, said, "ICT is very honored to have Aliyah Chavez
as part of the team. She is a true professional journalist and a
great rep of the Pueblo people. We look forward to a long relationship
with a great journalist."
She holds a bachelor's degree in communication and
comparative studies in race and ethnicity. The reporter started
her ICT journey in the fall of 2018 when she emailed Trahant seeking
freelancing opportunities in her last year of her graduate program
at Stanford University.
She reported election results on the first live
Native Election Night broadcast from southern California in 2018.
Just after graduation in the spring of 2019, she
told a Stanford news outlet, "I took a class taught by (communication
lecturer) Janine Zacharia in my freshman spring. She said something
I will never forget: Being a journalist is the best job in the world
because you get paid to go around and listen to people's stories.
That hit the nail on the head for me. Journalism combines everything
I love and value, especially wanting to give back to my community.
So, I decided to co-term (take simultaneous under-grad and graduate-level
courses). I really do love reporting."
Chavez joined ICT as a fellow under the Rowland
and Pat Rebele Journalism Internship Program at Stanford in the
summer of 2019.
She moved into a full-time reporter-producer position
in the fall of 2019. Since then, Chavez has covered the 2018 and
2020 elections, including the presidential race and the Iowa caucus.
She zoned in on politics and got the opportunity
of a lifetime: participate in the White House press briefing.
"It was one of those days I went to work pinching
myself. I am incredibly honored to have asked a question for Indian
Country Today at today's White House press briefing," Chavez posted
on April 16.
The Kewa Pueblo journalist also covered the nomination
and selection of Deb Haaland, Laguna Pueblo, as Interior Secretary.
"To have covered the monumental process of a Pueblo
woman becoming the first Native person to serve in a presidential
Cabinet position was very meaningful to me. As a Pueblo female reporter
I was able to provide the context needed to tell a story as unique
as Secretary Haaland's," Chavez said. "Every story in Indian Country
deserves that context."
Chavez is poised and well-spoken on camera. She's
able to gather her thoughts and ask questions that bring to light
information that matters to Indian Country, all while staying true
to journalistic principles.
Arizona PBS recognized her talent and asked her
to co-host "Break It Down," a daily 10-minute segment with conversations
on news, politics and pop culture.
She hopes others will see her at work and follow
in her footsteps.
"I can't help but to be reminded of the beauty of
our Indigenous knowledge systems and communities for teaching me
the core values that have guided me to this role," she said.
One individual who held a similar role was Harriet
Skye, Standing Rock. Skye hosted the TV show from North Dakota called
"Indian Country Today with Harriet Skye." In 2023, it'll be the
50th anniversary of the show.
Jodi Rave wrote for Buffalo's
Fire: "Skye started hosting 'Indian Country Today' in 1973.
For more than a decade, she filmed some 250 episodes, most of which
were recorded on 2-inch, reel-to-reel videotape. Producers used
the same tape for each show, so only a few of the final episodes
survived to be archived at the North Dakota State Historical Society."
Rave added that Skye "made it seem natural for an
Indian woman to report and broadcast the news."
Chavez now hopes to pave the way. "I think one of
my career goals is going to be nurturing the next generation of
She has also worked as an intern or at jobs with
NBC's Today show, TEDx, and Times Digital Media.
"To my Indigenous relatives, I encourage you to
look to the field of journalism and media because each of you are
experts in your communities," she said. "Thank you to my family,
mentors, friends and loved ones. Your support is invaluable to me."
Tune in to the ICT newscast on FNX this fall to
watch Chavez's debut.