A matter of style – How KNBA handles questions about word choices and language

Mar 30, 2021

My name is Tripp Crouse (Two-Spirit Ojibwe, they/them) and I’m the news director for 90.3 KNBA.

As news director, I collect stories from around the state and elsewhere for our weekday forecasts, website and social media. I also report and write stories of my own – usually with the focus on Indigenous people, places and policies as it pertains to Alaska.

I’m also the person that makes the decisions on which version of a word to use, whether to capitalize a particular word choice or how to even present a word that’s not in the English language.

Please consider these guidelines as some of the driving principles for KNBA News style:

  • Our primary reference books are The Associated Press: Stylebook for Alaska, The Associated Press Stylebook, and Merriam Webster’s New World College Dictionary. We also rely heavily on the Native America Journalists Association’s style insert, Indian Country Today’s in-house stylebook, The Canadian Press Stylebook (when applicable) and the Alaska Native Studies Council writing style guide.  
  • We capitalize Indigenous and Native as they pertain to peoples, traditional and stewarded homelands and territory, governments, organizations, etc. We will NEVER refer to a person born in a state or country as native, unless their people are Indigenous to that place.
  • We capitalize Tribe, Tribes and Tribal out of respect and honor to the sovereignty of Indigenous people and their governmental and organizational structures. This extends to Tribal health organizations and Tribal non-profits.
  • We capitalize Elder in reference to people from a community who designate older generations as such -- as an honorific and status, e.g. people who identify as an Elder, or Indigenous people who have led to greater understanding, knowledge and lifeways of their community or communities.
  • While English is my first and primary language, as someone reconnecting with my languages and the languages of my surrounding communities, I recognize the importance of Indigenous/Native languages, names, place names, etc. KNBA News will do its best to incorporate those into online and news broadcast stories.
  • We will endeavor to give priority to the names carried or bestowed upon people by their communities. This may include (but not limited to) putting someone’s Indigenous/Native name(s) first before their English or government names.
  • KNBA News will not use italics or quote marks to differentiate Indigenous/Native words or phrases – though we will describe what language(s) it comes from and general meaning. Indigenous/Native language words will always come first – and then the description.
  • KNBA News will endeavor to recognize the places, affiliations, Tribal enrollment/membership and communities from which Indigenous/Native people come from or belong. Most commonly this may be included within the text itself – or separated by parentheses.

This is not meant as a comprehensive or total list, and it may change over time. It is also not meant to be a definitive source on style for outside organizations. But I do hope that news outlets and media organizations take a hard look at how they’ve covered Indigenous people in the past, and reflect on how they can mend and improve those relationships moving forward.

As KNBA News continues to grow and expand, we hope to incorporate more style suggestions from our many neighboring communities.

If you have questions or suggestions, please email and put ATTN: KNBA News in the subject line.