Introducing our inaugural Indigenous Correspondents

Introducing our inaugural Indigenous Correspondents
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Colleges & Education

By JoRee LaFrance and Alexander Cotnoir

We are in a time of Indigenous resurgence and now is the time to reclaim our narrative and tell our own stories. With this, we and our partners, University of Arizona and Planet Forward, are thrilled to announce the inaugural cohort of 12 Indigenous Correspondents through the new Ilíiaitchik: Indigenous Correspondents Program (ICP).

The program’s name - Ilíiaitchik, pronounced as “il-lia-it-chick,” comes from the Biiluuke (Crow) word meaning “to speak good things.”

This new storytelling program is entirely led by Indigenous mentors, and offers one-on-one feedback from Indigenous writers, journalists, and media producers to our student correspondents. As co-founders, we wanted to build a space where Indigenous students feel comfortable and confident telling stories about their communities and the issues that are important to them. These stories will help to bring broader awareness about our communities and concerns, center our traditional knowledge, amplify our modern existence, show our cultural resilience, and focus on solutions that uphold our values and responsibilities.

The 2022-2023 Planet Forward Indigenous Correspondents represent 10 tribes and seven universities from across the U.S., including both undergraduate and graduate students. The 10-month program culminates in all Indigenous Correspondents receiving a travel grant to attend 2023’s Planet Forward Summit in Washington, D.C., where they will engage in workshops led by global environmental leaders and meet with their cohort. Correspondents also will have their work published right here on, and presented to sustainability experts, professionals, and thought leaders through Planet Forward and University of Arizona events and partners.

Meet our 2022-2023 Planet Forward Indigenous Correspondents: 

JoRee LaFrance – Program co-founder; University of Arizona. Apsáalooke/Crow Nation. JoRee is pursuing her Ph.D. in Environmental Science where she is examining water quality issues on Apsáalooke lands. 

Alexander Cotnoir – Program co-founder; George Washington University. Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk Abenaki Nation. Alexander recently graduated with his Master’s in Teaching, where he studied community engagement and conducted independent research on Indigenous knowledge in science communication.

Alisa Smith Woodruff – Evergreen State College. Skokomish Tribe. Alisa is pursuing her master’s degree in Environmental Science. 

Troi Madison Newman – University of Arizona. Piscataway Conoy Tribe. Troi is a first-year law student at the James E. Rogers College of Law. 

Shondiin Mayo – University of Alaska Fairbanks. Native Village of Stevens. Shondiin is pursuing her graduate degree in Rural Development. 

Raylen Bark – Dartmouth College. Cherokee, Choctaw, Hualapai, and Hidatsa. Raylen is in her junior year, studying Native American and Indigenous Studies modified with Linguistics. 

Darrien Benally – Northern Arizona University. Diné (Navajo Nation). Darrien is a first-year graduate student enrolled in the Master of Arts Communication program.

Nadira Sage Mitchell – University of Arizona. Diné (Navajo Nation). Nadira is in her senior year, studying Natural Resources with an emphasis in Wildlife Conservation and Management.

● Carlie Domingues – University of California, Davis. Chumash. Carlie is a third year Ph.D. student studying Native American Studies. 

Lokina Kishoiyian – University of Arizona. Maasai Tribe of Kenya. Lokina is a second year Ph.D. student in the Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program. 

Sara Mae Williams – University of Arizona. Tohono O’odham Nation. Sara is in their senior year, majoring in Elementary Education. 

Kaly Arvizu – Northern Arizona University. Diné (Navajo Nation). Kaly is a senior majoring in Social Work and minoring in Community Engagement.


Stay tuned to for more updates from our incredible students involved in this year’s program!

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education, environmental justice, Indigenous, indigenous correspondent program, nature, storytelling

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