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NAJA 2000 Coming Up

SEATTLE, Wash. - Although The Seminole Tribune picked up a handful of awards at the Unity Conference held here July 7-11, the big news was that finally the Native American Journalists Association convention to be hosted by the Seminole Tribe in 2000 is coming up on deck.

The Tribe will host the NAJA event June 14-17, 2000 at the Fort Lauderdale Marriott North. It will mark the first time in NAJA's 15-year history the annual conference - which brings Native American newspaper, magazine, radio and television journalists together - will be held in Florida.

Gordon Regguinti, Executive Director of NAJA, set the stage for the Seminole hosted convention at the final business meeting at the Unity Conference - a unified gathering of the National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Asian American Journalists Association and NAJA.

"I want to say that I'm very impressed with the work the NAJA 2000 Host Committee has done already, and I think we're going to have an excellent conference," Regguinti said. "The Host Committee is already much further ahead than any conference I've been associated with while at NAJA.

"What this means is that we have the luxury to really concentrate on programs such as student seminars and an ecological workshop where we'll get the participants out into the Everglades. We can really focus in on some of the important elements of the event and I'm sure people will have a good time and get a lot of out the NAJA 2000 convention."

Regguinti made his remarks just after three members of the NAJA 2000 Host Committee - Lee Tiger, the Seminole Tribe's tourism consultant, Dan McDonald, business manager of the Tribe's Communication Department and Cindy Malin, Communications Manager for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau - held a raffle to officially begin the promotion for NAJA 2000.

The top prize, with an estimated value of $3,000, included a pair of round-trip airline tickets on Southwest Airlines - the official airline for the event, four nights of hotel accommodations at the Marriott North arranged by Debbie Walters, Director of Group Sales, a free rental car from Dollar Rental Car, a free dinner show at the Mai Kai Restaurant, a day or overnight package at the Big Cypress attractions including Billie Swamp Safari and the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, and a VIP pass from the Visitors Bureau which offers free access to all Fort Lauderdale tourist attractions.

The winning ticket for the big prize was held by Gail E. Chehak, editor of North West Indian, a Portland, Or., based art magazine.

"Oh, this is amazing," Chehak said after receiving her prize. "I've never won anything in my life. Now, you can bet I'm coming to Fort Lauderdale. Once for this free trip and once for NAJA 2000."

The drawing was the final bit of business for the NAJA 2000 contingent. All that remained was collecting the awards presented to the staff of the Seminole Tribune.

In all, the Tribune continued the winning tradition, winning plaques in four different categories. The rewards were Best New Story - Non-Native, which was the group coverage of the slaying of Vivian Crooks' son, Florida Highway Patrolman Bradley Crooks.

First place awards were presented to Elrod Bowers, Charles Flowers, the late Daryl Jones, Peter B. Gallagher, Dan McDonald and Mark Madrid.

The Tribune's graphic designer, Melissa Sherman, won a second honorable mention for Best Layout and Design.

Columnist and historian Patsy West won a second honorable mention for Best News Story for her coverage of the Indian Circle.

And correspondent Michael James won a first honorable mention of Best Sports Photo for his shot of a cowboy taking a hard fall during a rodeo.

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