I’m thrilled to announce that Tristan Ahtone is joining Grist as editor-at-large. Tristan is an award-winning journalist who until recently was the editor-in-chief of the Texas Observer. There, he led a small but mighty team that delivered high-impact, investigative coverage on one of the most important states in the union. Tristan oversaw a stunning redesign of the publication’s magazine and website, increased the staff’s diversity by nearly half, and established Texas’ first Indigenous Affairs desk.
Prior to joining the Observer, Tristan was an editor at High Country News, where he launched its award-winning Indigenous affairs vertical. In 2020, he led a team — that included Grist senior editor Katherine Lanpher — in publishing a years-long investigation into American colleges and universities built on land expropriated from Native American tribes. The project, “Land Grab Universities,” won a George Polk Award, an Investigative Reporters & Editors Award, a Sigma Award, and a Society of News Design Award. It also garnered a National Magazine Award nomination for Public Interest.
Tristan is a member of the Kiowa Tribe and is a past president of the Native American Journalists Association. He is a founder of the Indigenous Investigative Collective, a network of Indigenous reporters and newsrooms working collaboratively on projects that span the globe. He has reported on Indigenous affairs for Al Jazeera America, PBS NewsHour, National Native News, NPR and National Geographic. Ahtone’s stories have won multiple honors, including investigative awards from the Gannett Foundation and Public Radio News Directors Incorporated. In 2017, he won a prestigious Nieman Fellowship to study at Harvard. And he is on the board of the Muckrock Foundation, a non-profit site that gives journalists the tools to hold governments to account.
At Grist, he will help build out our coverage of Indigenous affairs, making the beat more global in focus. As he notes, Indigenous peoples represent 5 percent of the global population but protect nearly 80 percent of the world’s remaining biodiversity. This new work is very much aligned with Grist’s brand, and I’m confident the stories that Tristan will report and commission will no doubt delight both Grist’s current and future audiences.
I couldn’t be more excited to welcome Tristan to the Grist editorial team. He will be starting in mid-November and will be based in Texas.