Mirror wins three awards for coverage of Arizona's indigenous communities • Arizona Mirror

Shondiin Silversmith and the Arizona Mirror took home three awards in the Indigenous Journalists Association’s annual journalism competition.

Silversmith, who has covered Arizona's indigenous communities for the Mirror since 2021, was honored for her work covering the state's rehab fraud epidemic and its resulting fallout, the missing and murdered indigenous crisis, and Native drag performers.

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She received second place for the best news story in the professional category of the IJA competition for her coverage of Predatory Medicaid fraud targeting indigenous peoplesIn May 2023, Governor Katie Hobbs and Attorney General Kris Mayes announced that more than 100 mental health providers had been shut down after investigators found evidence that they had defrauded the state's Medicaid program of hundreds of millions of dollars.

The fraudulent health care providers targeted Indigenous people in need of drug treatment by offering them food, shelter, and treatment at a group home or rehabilitation facility. But instead of getting the help they needed, they were allowed—and sometimes encouraged—to continue using drugs and alcohol. At the same time, the providers fraudulently billed the state's Medicaid program for addiction treatment and other health services.

Silversmith also received a second place award for Excellence in Beat Reporting for their continuous Covering the MMIP crisis in Arizonaincluding Hobbs' Task Force on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples And national efforts to understand MMIP in Arizona.

And she was honored with a third place award for best Two-Spirit reporting – an indigenous term that encompasses LGBTQ+ people in the broadest sense – for her Reporting on Native Drag Artists and how Republican efforts to criminalize drag queens in Arizona may have affected them.

Founded in 1983 and originally known as the Native American Press Association, the Indigenous Journalists Association supports and empowers Indigenous journalists through programs and actions designed to enrich journalism and promote Indigenous culture. Its annual journalism competition recognizes outstanding achievements in reporting on indigenous communities and issues that directly affect indigenous peoples.

Anna Harden

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