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The year 2021 was filled with uplifting stories out of Indian Country. 

Some of our Editor and Publisher Levi Rickert’s favorites include a celebration of history being made when the Senate Confirmed Deb Haaland As First Native American Cabinet Secretary; the inspiring story of A Navajo Engineer Talks About Life at NASA, and the Rover Set to Land on Mars; and the classically funny report on Taekwondo Kick Challenge Video Sends Native Youth Viral on TikTok with Millions of Views

Contributor Nanette Deetz has several favorites, too, including Deb Haaland’s visit to Alcatraz, where she declared it the place where ‘Red Power’ began. Her story about Wahpepah's Kitchen opening and the street naming of Wakazoo Way in Oakland are also two of her favorites. 

“These stories were inspiring to me because they proved that as Native Americans or Indigenous First Nations People, we are no longer invisible,” says Deetz. “We are now taking our place at the table, and are making sure we are no longer unrecognized or disappeared. We still have lots of work left to do, but can still acknowledge and celebrate our victories.”

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Staff writer Jenna Kunze’s favorite stories of 2021 was one she wrote last January, profiling a Lakota Sioux woman, LaVonne Roach, who was pardoned by President Trump. She had served 23 of her 30 year sentence for a non-violent drug charge when she was released last January. “I spoke to her on her very first day ‘free,’” Kunze recalls. “I was inspired by her work defending her Native American rights while incarcerated, and her interest in pursuing mentoring and advocacy work for her community members now that she's been released.”

Kunze also appreciated doing this interview with Quannah Chasinghorse, “because of the way she learned to see what was originally her biggest insecurity—her ‘Lakota nose’—as her biggest asset.”

Contributor Monica Whitepigeon enjoyed the article Rep. Sharice Davids Hopes to Inspire Youth With New Children's Book. “It's wonderful to see the new children's books publications that have come out in the last year or so,” says Whitepigeon. “There are books and topics I wish I had access to when I was growing up. Rep. Davids always brings a smile to my face, and I hope more young Native women/girls get their stories out.”

Managing partner of Indian Country Media Brian Edwards especially appreciated Jenna Kunze’s coverage of the Rosebud Sioux Youth Council's journey to bring their relations home. The story “stirred a lot of emotions: sadness, hope, and a sense of awe for these amazing young Natives,” says Edwards. “The photo she took for the story was also one of the most meaningful shots we ran this year. It captured a quiet moment, but also connected several generations and reminded us that Indian Boarding Schools are not just a piece of ancient history. The impact of boarding schools on past generations still affects Native Americans today.”

And Joe Boomgaard, managing editor of Tribal Business News, was inspired by our coverage of beautiful unseen images from an epic exploration of Alaska Native culture.

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