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[VIRTUAL] Media Literacy in Tribal Communities and Protecting Collective Health

The spread of misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines threatens not only public health, but also a community’s capacity for civil dialogue, connectedness, and its general well-being. Embracing media literacy skills and trusted messengers can counter false content and empower communities to take control of their information systems and health. Join the National Congress of American Indians and PEN America for an interactive media literacy workshop to explore strategies for embedding healthy digital behavior into the way friends, family members from teenagers to elders, and neighbors engage with news and share information online and offline. We’ll take a holistic approach by connecting with organizers, doctors, and media literacy.

During this 60-minute workshop, we will discuss the following:

  • How misinformation can target and spread within tribal communities
  • Proactive strategies to protect yourself and your family and friends from the harmful and disenfranchising effects of misinformation
  • Tools and techniques to source accurate information and verify content online and on social media
  • How to fact-check and debunk specific false narratives about COVID-19, the vaccine, access to the shot, immunity, and other narratives distorting public understanding of the facts

During the discussion portion of our session, participants will have an opportunity to ask PEN America media literacy experts and tribal doctors any questions they might have about the vaccine, how to approach those who may be misinformed, or anything else.

NCAI logo

Co-sponsored by the Native American Journalists Association.NAJA logo

This event was presented as part of PEN America’s 2021 Community Partnership Programs.

Follow-Up Resources

Check out this resource packet to dive deeper into strategies for spotting and stopping misinformation and more community resources for seeding media literacy skills.

Featured Presenters

Dr. Siobhan Wescott headshot

Dr. Siobhan Wescott is the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s new endowed professor and director for its American Indian Health department in the College of Public Health. Dr. Wescott earned her degree in government from Dartmouth College and then went on to earn her master’s degree in public health from the University of California. Dr. Wescott received her medical degree from Harvard Medical School. The new ‘Dr. Susan and Susette LaFlesche’ professor was most recently the co-director of the ‘Indians Into Medicine Program’ at the University of North Dakota. An Alaskan Athabascan, Dr. Wescott grew up just outside Fairbanks in a tiny 400-square-foot cabin with an outhouse. Dr. Wescott has always been a staunch advocate for Alaskan Natives and American Indians, especially when it comes to issues of health equity and educating the next generation. She has cultivated a nationally recognized voice, especially through her work with the American Medical Association.

Dr. Aaron Payment headshotDr. Aaron Payment is the Recording Secretary of the NCAI Executive Board, and he is serving in his fourth term as Chairperson of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. With 46,000+ Tribal Citizens, his Tribe is the largest east of the Mississippi. He has served as a Tribal Council Member, Vice-Chairperson, on numerous national level tribal advisories and has dedicated his life to upholding the treaty and trust obligation and advancing opportunity for American Indians.

Damaso Reyes headshotDamaso Reyes (he/him) is a media literacy expert and consultant for PEN America and has been an independent journalist for more than 20 years. He has been published by The Associated Press, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the San Francisco Chronicle, New York Magazine, Der Spiegel, the Miami Herald, Forbes, and The Irish Times. Previous assignments and projects have taken him to countries, including Rwanda, Indonesia, Tanzania, and throughout the United States and Europe.

If you tweet about the event, be sure to tag our Twitter handles @NCAI1944 and @penamerica.

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