Sloan returning to Native American Journalism Fellowship
Cherokee Nation citizen Makayla Sloan, a junior at Haskell Indian Nations University, is a returning fellow with the Native American Journalism Fellowship, offered through the Native American Journalists Association. COURTESY
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Each year, the Native American Journalists Association chooses a few distinguished student journalists to take part in its Native American Journalism Fellowship.
Leave it to the coronavirus pandemic to complicate everything. The cancellation of NAJA’s national convention required some changes, and the 2020 class consists of returning fellows, including Cherokee Nation citizen Makayla Sloan, a junior at Haskell Indian Nations University.
“The fellowship is usually held during the yearly week-long NAJA Conference but this year, due to COVID-19, the organization will be adjusting to be able to work at a distance with students by conducting all interaction online,” Sloan said.
Sloan said the fellowship normally allows students to work with mentors in a newsroom environment, and learn about the production of news in different media.
NAJA stated in a release that mentors will work remotely with Darren Brown of Cheyenne and Arapaho Television and Frank Blanquet of First Nations Experience under co-directors Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton and Frank Robertson.
“Not much information has been released yet to me about what this year’s fellowship will be like, but so far I know that fellows will be partnering with First Nations Experience to produce their own news stories,” Sloan said.
By participating in the Native American Journalism Fellowship, fellows are eligible to receive three hours of course credit at their respective schools.
Since a young age, Sloan has been fascinated by aspects of mass communication, particularly visuals.
“I have always been drawn to photography, even as a child,” she said. “Throughout my time in college, I reconnected with my passion and began working as a photojournalist with my university newspaper, the Indian Leader. I really began to love covering different sports and events on campus. My first year of fellowship with the NAJA made me see that I would really like to pursue photojournalism as a career.”
Sloan hails from Osawatomie, Kansas, and graduated from Osawatomie High School. She is now pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Indigenous and American Indian studies.
“I just recently graduated summa cum laude with my associate’s degree in media communications,” she said. “I spend a lot of my free time doing beadwork. I love watching films and movies and listening to all kinds of music. I also like cooking and experiencing foods from different areas and cultures.”
In recent years, Sloan has become more acquainted with her heritage. Her Cherokee lineage was not something she was “raised around” in the home.
“Most of what I knew as a kid I learned from my grandmother who I would spend summers in Oklahoma with,” she said. “I am learning more and more, during my time in college, about my heritage and others.’ Connecting with my heritage has definitely influenced my interest in pursuing a career not only in journalism but with a tribal publication like the Cherokee Phoenix.”