Cherokee journalist awarded $100,000 for reporting on overlooked communities

02/07/2020 02:30 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Cherokee journalist Rebecca Nagle is a recipient of the third annual American Mosaic Journalism Prize for uncovering stories about Native peoples, migrants and “hidden” American communities. COURTESY
LOS ALTOS, Calif. – The Heising-Simons Foundation announced Feb. 5 that freelance Cherokee journalist Rebecca Nagle is one of two recipients of the 2020 American Mosaic Journalism Prize, which includes an unrestricted cash prize of $100,000. This is one of the largest dollar amounts given for a journalism award in the United States.

Nagle’s journalism includes the Crooked Media podcast, “This Land,” which explores Native American rights. The prize is awarded for excellence in long-form, narrative, or deep reporting about underrepresented and/or misrepresented groups in the United States. It recognizes journalism’s ability to foster understanding and aims to support freelance journalists.

Nagle is a writer, audio journalist and advocate, based in Tahlequah. A citizen of the Cherokee Nation, she frequently writes about Native American issues including tribal sovereignty, representation in culture and media, cultural appropriation and violence against women. She is the creator and host of the podcast “This Land,” which focused on the case of Carpenter v. Murphy, a U.S. Supreme Court case about the treaty and land rights of five tribes in Oklahoma.

“Though our stories are foundational to this country, most often contemporary Native Americans are erased from the news and mainstream media,” Nagle said. “With ‘This Land’ I wanted listeners to learn not only about one Supreme Court case, but about tribal sovereignty and the ongoing fight for Native rights in this country. I am humbled and honored to get this award and hope it serves as an example to media outlets and editors that people are ready to hear Native stories.”

The other recipient of the American Mosaic Journalism Prize is Darcy Courteau a writer and photo essayist based in Washington, D.C. and the rural Arkansas Ozarks. Courteau’s work includes a June 2019 feature in The Atlantic, “Mireya’s Third Crossing,” about an undocumented immigrant’s harrowing journeys across the U.S.-Mexico border.

She has written about the Ozarks, life in a low-income, high-crime neighborhood in D.C., and dog sledding in the Alaskan wilderness. Her long-form story “Mireya’s Third Crossing” follows a Mexican woman on her journey to attain a visa after living unauthorized in the U.S. for 25 years.

“I’m interested in how economic and political forces bear on individual lives,” Courteau said. “But more than that I’m interested in our relationships to faith, work, land, and animals, what we’ll barter for some freedom, and how we come to terms with solitude. I’m grateful to those people, many of them very private, who have revealed their stories to me.”

The prize is based on confidential nominations invited from more than 100 leaders in journalism throughout the country. A panel of 10 judges — including journalists from the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, NPR, VICE News, the Oxford American, Columbia University, and Arizona State University — selected the recipients.

For more information about the American Mosaic Journalism Prize, visit For more information about the Heising-Simons Foundation, visit


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