Blue Chalk Project Awarded Pulitzer Grant

An upcoming Blue Chalk project has been awarded a grant by The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

The project will follow reporters from the Navajo Times as they work to maintain the crucial, but fragile, informational links that hold together a culturally strong community spread over an enormous space with limited digital connectedness. 

In spring, the Navajo Nation faced the highest per capita Covid-19 infection rate in the United States. Tom Arviso, Jr, the long-time publisher of the Navajo Times, says access to information during this trying time “is a matter of life or death.”

For many in the Navajo Nation, the arrival of the weekly newspaper is their only way to keep up with life on the reservation — and get impartial news. The Navajo Times has the reputation of acting as a watchdog for its community, ever since it became the first Native newspaper to gain independence from its tribal government. 

Now, as the health crisis persists, the newsroom is gearing up to cover a political crisis as lawmakers consider reverting to mail-in ballots to minimize contagion. In Arizona, only 18% of Native Americans receive mail at home, while white voters have a rate that is 350% higher. This means the Navajo people will be disproportionately affected by this decision. 

Our team, Eléonore Hamelin, Torsten Kjellstrand, Jason Greene, and Sakya Lucky Calsoyas, is already on the ground in the Navajo Nation embedded with journalists from the Navajo Times. They're being remotely supported by Rob Finch. We’re grateful to the Pulitzer Center for the opportunity to tell this important story. 

Cover image of Eléonore Hamelin and Jason Greene on location in the Navajo Nation by Torsten Kjellstrand.