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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Native News Online announced today that Valerie Vande Panne, who refers to herself as a mixed-race woman and a descendant of several Southwest tribes, has been named its managing editor. Vande Panne previously served as editor-in-chief of Metro Times in Detroit, Mich.

A longtime journalist, Vande Panne most recently worked as a reporter at WGCU, an NPR member station in Southwest Florida, where she contributed environmental stories to Florida Public Radio Network and the Florida Climate Change Reporting Network.

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In addition, since August 2020, she has been a contributor to Native News Online writing feature stories, including Reflecting on the Maine-Wabanaki Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission Five Years Later, which examined Maine’s child welfare system and healing from historical trauma in tribal communities.

Vande Panne has been a stringer for The New York Times and Reuters. During her career, she has contributed to Columbia Journalism Review, Bloomberg, The Guardian, Politico and Salon. She is also a former news editor of High Times magazine.

“Valerie comes to Native News Online with a strong journalism background, but what impressed me about her is she organized sending a truck load of water and other needed supplies to the Navajo Nation last year during the Covid-19 pandemic, which demonstrates her commitment to Indian Country that goes beyond her writing,” Levi Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation), founder and publisher. “We’re looking forward to Valerie further building our Native-led newsroom as we continue our ongoing coverage of Indian Country and our special project on in-depth Indian boarding school coverage.”

In 2021, Vande Panne won an honorable mention award from the Native American Journalist Association (NAJA) for Young Seminole Tribe Member Sues Ron Santis, which tells the story of 17-year-old Valaholly Frank, who along with other young people sued Florida Gov. Ron Santis asserting their future is jeopardized by climate change inaction.

She has also won the Florida Association of Broadcast Journalists Award, a New England Newspaper and Press Association Award, and an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies Award.

"Native News Online is a humble leader covering Indian Country, and it is an honor to be part of the team and a privilege to have the responsibility of managing editor. I am grateful for the opportunity, and to the many in our communities who make our work possible," Vande Panne said. 

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These stories must be heard.

This May, we are highlighting our coverage of Indian boarding schools and their generational impact on Native families and Native communities. Giving survivors of boarding schools and their descendants the opportunity to share their stories is an important step toward healing — not just because they are speaking, but because they are being heard. Their stories must be heard. Help our efforts to make sure Native stories and Native voices are heard in 2024. Please consider a recurring donation to help fund our ongoing coverage of Indian boarding schools. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous-centered journalism. Thank you.

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