Today’s #MediaMonday comes to us from the Navajo Nation, where Arlyssa Becenti covers the Navajo Nation Council for the Navajo Times. She was recently honored with a first place award from the Arizona Press Club for community local government reporting for her diligent and prolific watchdog reporting on the overreach of elected officials and the growing tensions with the Arizona attorney general.
Arlyssa, time to share:
I am originally from Fort Defiance, Ariz. My clans are Nát'oh dine'é Táchii'nii, Bit'ahnii, Kin łichii'nii, Kiyaa'áanii.
My dad, Archie Becenti, had a successful 30-year rodeo career of riding broncs and bulls. For a time, before working as a home quality control inspector for the Navajo Nation, this was how he supported my mom, two sisters, brother and me. And my mom, Rosemarie Becenti, has taught middle school language arts, and is currently a computer teacher.
I attended Arizona State University where I graduated with a degree in English literature.
I’ve always wanted to be a writer in one way or another, but it was until high school, that’s when I fell in love with reading the newspaper. That love turned into a fascination for me, and being a journalist became the goal. I had no idea how I could be a reporter, I did not have a teacher, mentor, professor, or resources to tell me how to become a reporter, so I had to figure it out on my own. I had never taken a journalism course, and I basically learned everything on my own while on the job. I’m thankful while I was in college that Gallup Independent took a chance on me and kept me on staff for five years. But, the goal, ever since I knew I wanted to be a reporter, was to write for the Navajo Times. The rich history of the paper, and the amazing writers who have worked there, and its main purpose of being the paper for the Navajo people was why I’ve always wanted to write for the publication. But, reporting on the Navajo government wasn’t ever something I wanted to report on at first. I wanted to write more on the people and do more community stories, but I was thrown into political reporting, and have loved it ever since.
I absolutely love being home and reporting on my Navajo government and people. When students visit the newsroom I always emphasize how important it is that they know who their leaders are, and how important it is to understand how their tribal government works. There are a few challenges, but the main challenge for me is trying to cover everything that is happening within the government, and staying on top of it all.
I’ve covered so many topics within the eight years of reporting, but these are the top stories I remember based on its aftermath:
When I’m not working I enjoy running, spending time with my family, and travelling with my husband Andrew Lawrence.
As a Diné journalist I just want to emphasize: our Diné stories, issues, topics, culture, traditions, language all should be told and shared by Diné writers. We are the keepers of these topics, we are raised Diné, we live it every day; we understand our peoples plights and our celebrations. We owe it to the history of our people and the future of our children that as Diné, not only should we be proud of whom we are, but that we also tell our own stories in order to get it right.