So You’re Covering Indian Country? This Page Has Got You Covered

Guides to Help You Cover Indian Country and Indigenous Peoples

By Terri Hansen

The Indian Country Style Guide for editors, writers and journalists, a guide to definitions and proper uses and briefings on American Indian law and newsgathering in Indian Country is a valuable resource for anyone writing about Indigenous America. It’s patterned after the AP Stylebook for familiarity and ease of use. It’s only $4.99 on Kindle.

I also highly recommend reading, “Shoot the Indian: Media, Misperception and Native Truth,” available at your library or on Amazon.

As part of its mission, the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) encourages responsible, informed coverage of Native Americans. For more information about covering tribal nations and peoples, including questions of sovereignty, reservations and a tribal directory, NAJA’s resource guide, “100 Questions, 500 Nations,” is available for purchase for $10 at their online store:

NAJA offers free resources to reporters as well. See their terminology guide for reporters covering Indian country. Here’s their guidance for reporting Thanksgiving and Native Heritage Day in November. Several reporters were arrested and detained for covering Standing Rock’s stand against the Dakota Access Pipeline. NAJA offers reporters some solid advice in their Reporters Guide to Avoiding Arrest.

Here’s a guide to covering violence in Indian Country.

The Harvard Kennedy School’s SHORENSTEIN CENTER Journalist’s Resource includes a page on Native Americans: Negative impacts of media portrayals, stereotypes here.

Rob McDonald, communications director at the Confederated Tribes of the Salish and Kootenai who left a 15-year career working at daily newspapers, most recently, The Spokesman Review in Spokane, Wash., spoke to this at a panel I organized for the Society of Environmental Journalists 20th annual conference. Listen to Rob’s comments here.

Speaking of the Society of Environmental Journalists, their diversity committee put together an outstanding Guide to Diversity in Environmental Reporting. Download the PDF (3.69 MB) or view, and share here.

High Country News offers How to Tell Better Stories from Indian Country.

A Reporting in Indigenous Communities guide is written from an Aboriginal Canadian reporter’s perspective with input from others, but it covers Indian Country, too. The checklist, here,, links to the full guide.

Nieman Reports: Covering Indian Country: Includes such articles as How an Outsider Gets In: Relying on decades of experience, a journalist provides valuable reporting tips; Challenges Native and Non-Native Journalists Confront: Those who tell Indian people’s stories are expected to be ‘truthful, accurate, responsible, and excellent communicators.’

Reporters Committee on Freedom of the Press: Tips for reporters covering American Indian issues.

Indigenous Peoples is always plural unless your coverage is of one specific tribe. Many of the issues facing global Indigenous peoples stem from land rights. To explore further, read the Thompson Reuters Foundation Factbox to indigenous and community lands.

The Society of Professional Journalists’ Rainbow Sourcebook makes it easy to broaden sourcing beyond the narrow demographic band usually found in the news. Search this database by common news topics to find qualified experts contributed by fellow journalists.

This is an evolving page. Check back periodically for more.