Tim Giago, a game-changer in Indian Country journalism, never ceases to amaze members of the Native American Journalists Association. In commemoration of his numerous achievements, NAJA awarded him the 2017 NAJA-Medill Milestone Achievement Award, which includes a $5,000 cash prize, for his commitment to journalistic excellence and advancement in Indian Country.
Aside from being a founder of NAJA and the first president of the Native American Press Association, he also founded the Lakota Times in 1981, which was later renamed Indian Country Today. The publication remains one of the largest sources of Native American news today. Additionally, Giago collaborated with Pennsylvania State University journalism professor Bill Dulaney to raise money for the first NAJA conference in 1984 and was the editor and publisher of another one of his creations, the Lakota Journal, from 2000 to 2004.
While many of his notable achievements took place in the newsroom, they did not end there. A member of the Oglala Lakota Tribe, he grew up on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and, upon the start of the Korean Conflict in 1951, enlisted in the U.S. Navy. After being honorably discharged in 1958, he attended to the University of Nevada at Reno, where he majored in business and was awarded the Nieman Fellowship in Journalism to Harvard University.
Since then, he has published a few books — on top of his numerous articles — including “The Aboriginal Sin and Notes from Indian Country Volumes I and II,” and “Children Left Behind.” He also helped write the book, “The American Indian and the Media.”
Patty Loew presented the award to Giago at the NAJA Membership Luncheon on Sept. 8 in Anaheim, California.
“Initially, he [Giago] founded the Native American Press Association, but broadened that to include Native broadcast reporters and the more inclusive Native American Journalists Association was born. So, I supposed you could say that he predicted media convergence 30 years before it actually happened,” she said in a press release. “Since the founding of NAJA, Tim’s fearlessness has only increased. He has never wavered from his reporting on Native sovereignty, treaty rights and environmental destruction and serves as a model for all of us in Native media.”