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Mirror wins 3 awards for covering Indigenous communities in Arizona


Mirror wins 3 awards for covering Indigenous communities in Arizona

Jun 21, 2024 | 4:16 pm ET
By Jim Small
Mirror wins 3 awards for covering Indigenous communities in Arizona
Photo via Getty Images

Shondiin Silversmith and the Arizona Mirror took home three awards in the Indigenous Journalists Association’s annual journalism contest.

Silversmith, who began working for the Mirror covering Arizona’s Indigenous communities in 2021, was honored for her work covering the state’s sober living home fraud epidemic and the resulting fallout, the Missing and Murdered Indigenous People’s crisis and Native drag performers.

She was awarded second place for Best News Story in the IJA contest’s professional category for her reporting on predatory Medicaid fraud that targeted Indigenous people. In May 2023, Gov. Katie Hobbs and Attorney General Kris Mayes announced that more than 100 behavioral health care providers had been shuttered after investigators found evidence that they defrauded the state’s Medicaid program of hundreds of millions of dollars.

The fraudulent health care providers had explicitly targeted Indigenous people who needed substance abuse treatment by offering them food, housing, and treatment at a group living home or rehab facility. But rather than getting the help they needed, they were allowed — and sometimes encouraged — to continue using drugs and alcohol. At the same time, providers fraudulently billed the state’s Medicaid program for addiction treatment and other health care services.

Silversmith also earned a second place for Excellence in Beat Reporting for her continued coverage of the MMIP crisis in Arizona, including Hobbs’ Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples Task Force and national efforts to understand MMIP in Arizona

And she was honored with a third place award for Best Two-Spirit Coverage — an Indigenous term that broadly encompasses LGBTQ+ people — for her reporting on Native drag artists and how Republican efforts to criminalize drag in Arizona could have affected them.

The Indigenous Journalists Association, which was formed in 1983 and originally known as the Native American Press Association, serves and empowers Native journalists through programs and actions designed to enrich journalism and promote Native cultures. Its annual journalism contest recognizes excellence in coverage of Indigenous communities and issues that directly affect Native peoples.