Announcing the Texas Observer’s Indigenous Affairs Desk

News organizations in Texas don’t report on Indigenous communities. The Texas Observer intends to be different.

News organizations in Texas don’t report on Indigenous communities. The Texas Observer intends to be different.


Six state and federally recognized tribes reside in the State of Texas including the Alabama-Coushatta, Kickapoo Traditional Tribe, Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo, Lipan Apache Tribe, Mount Tabor Indian Community, Texas Band of Yaqui Indians and the Miakan Garza Band of Coahuiltecans. Dozens more have been displaced from the state including the Kiowa, Comanche, Carizzo & Comecrudo, Caddo, and Tonkawa. Even more no longer exist after successful efforts by Texas to ethnically cleanse communities from the state and open the region to settlers.

Indigenous communities and stories represent the most underserved by journalists in Texas. In fact, for the last 50 years, the only stories major Texas newsrooms have bothered to look into primarily revolve around casinos and powwows. There has been almost no reporting done on the impact of COVID-19, on law enforcement relationships, climate change impacts, voting access, health care systems, politics, art, sex, or treaty rights to name a few.

For whatever reason, news organizations in Texas don’t report on Indigenous communities. The Texas Observer intends to be different.

Thanks to the help of our partners at the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, we’ve officially begun work on what we’re calling the Texas Observer’s Indigenous Affairs desk. To do it, we’ve brought in reporter Pauly Denetclaw, formerly of the Navajo Times, who will work with other reporters and editors to focus on this work. You’ll see stories from us regularly, and if you’re a newsroom, you’re welcome to republish–free of charge.

We’ve already started with a splash. In September, we dropped the Anti-Indigenous Handbook, a global collaboration with Indigenous Affairs journalists around the world. The collection of reportage from across three countries describes just a few of the ways in which anti-Indigenous sentiments and ideologies infiltrate our governments, institutions and lives.

We’ve got plans to fund this project for at least the next 12 months, and we want to keep it going well after our initial funding expires. But to do that we need you; your membership dollars will help us keep doing this work. Think this is important? Join today.

Do you think free access to journalism like this is important? The Texas Observer is known for its fiercely independent, uncompromising work—which we are pleased to provide to the public at no charge in this space. That means we rely on the generosity of our readers who believe that this work is important. You can chip in for as little as 99 cents a month. If you believe in this mission, we need your help.


Tristan Ahtone is editor-in-chief at the Texas Observer and a member of the Kiowa Tribe.


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