OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) – A reporter with Oakland roots is being recognized in a major way for covering topics that are near and dear to his heart.
Julian Brave Noisecat has been presented with the 2022 Heising-Simons Foundation American Mosaic Journalism Prize.
The honor comes with $100,000 to help him continue shining a light on people who have been here longer than the rest of us but are oftentimes left out of the spotlight.
The Berkeley High graduate is one of two freelance journalists awarded the prize for in-depth reporting about underrepresented groups in the U.S.
“I mean, it feels incredible. As a writer, journalist, someone who does creative work there are few things more rewarding than your colleagues telling you, hey we see you and we appreciate what you’re doing and we want you to keep pushing and keep producing good work,” Noisecat said. “And to have that comes with the kind of monetary support that the Heising-Simons Foundation is offering for the American Mosaic Journalism Prize, I was floored.”
Noisecat has elevated indigenous stories that have appeared across a long list of major publications including National Geographic, The Washington Post, and The Guardian.
“As an insider in the community, there are certain things that one might see or pick up on, and also might have this sort of authority and license to write about that outsiders just maybe because they don’t know or because they’re not really part of something they can’t really bring that into the material,” said Noisecat.
His passion for unearthing stories about Native tribes grew from a seed in the East Bay, where as a kid he took notice of how little even locals knew about people who have been in the Bay Area for millennia.
So on the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Alcatraz Occupation, he helped lead a canoe journey that brought together tribes from as far as Canada and Hawaii. As he reflects on his success and career, Noisecat credits the historic Intertribal Friendship House in Oakland for helping him connect with his roots.
“Growing up in Oakland and in the urban Native community in Oakland gave me this sense that there was this wonderful, expansive Indian Country out there that I could be a part of and was part of. I don’t think that it would have necessarily would have been same if I grew up in another place so I definitely see that as part of my hometown,” he said.
Noisecat also reports on climate change and had a hand in the Green New Deal.
He explains as it has become a modern-day issue, his reports shift from scientific to the immediate impact on humans, and as a Native American, he addresses the concern from the perspective of a people who have long had the preservation of nature at their forefront.