MISSION — The Confederated Umatilla Journal won 20 awards for work it published in 2017.

The Native American Journalists Association on June 12 announced its 2018 National Native Media Award winners. The CUJ was second in general excellence and second in best layout and design, and its staff won 18 individual awards, including seven first-place awards.

The journal is the monthly newspaper for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. Chuck Sams, CTUIR communications director, said in a written statement about the awards he was proud of the CUJ and communications staff as a whole.

“We work together to produce a 50-plus page paper monthly,” he said. “This takes a strong team effort.”

The journal competes in a category for newspapers with a circulation between 5,000 and 10,000. The CUJ prints about 8,000 copies a month, which it distributes to tribal households, a subscriber list and are free around the Mission and Pendleton community.

Eric Quaempts, interim executive director for the tribes, said the individual awards speak well of “staff’s journalistic skills and work ethic to produce good stories and reporting.”

Tribal member Dallas Dick, a freelance photographer, won a first-place award for a sports photo of the Basketball Against Alcohol and Drugs tournament. He won two other photography awards as well.

Tribal member Jill-Marie Gavin, a reporter/photographer who was only on board at the CUJ for a month in 2017, won two awards. She took second for best health coverage and third for best column.

And Sams, the CUJ publisher, also a Tribal member, was third with the editorial, “Immigration is in the news.”

CUJ editor Wil Phinney won five first-place awards who in a category for non-Indian NAJA members. He won three top awards for photos and two for stories. One of the stories was for best environmental coverage about lead shot in eagles; the other was a news story about American Indians marching to protect women’s rights.

Miranda Vega Rector, who was a reporter in 2017, won a first place for her health coverage on a story about wellness improvement at Cayuse Technologies.

The Native American Journalists Association in July in Miami will present more than 230 awards recognizing excellence in reporting by native and non-native journalists across the U.S. and Canada. The association received more than 500 entries for papers competing in three circulation categories. Judges for the competition were from NAJA, the Society of Professional Journalists, other newspaper and media peers and academia.

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