Trahant says he got interested in journalism by being a consumer. He grew up in a small community in Southern Idaho.
He says he remembers unrolling "The New York Times" in a big brown envelope.
When he was eight years old, he did a community newspaper. He says it was recorded in crayon.
He was born in Fort Hall, Idaho. He didn't have a journalism influence from his parents; his dad worked on roads.
Salmon fishing was a big activity when he was growing up. In the late 1960's, his tribe won a Supreme Court case for protective treaty rights for fishing. He was struck by how the media didn't cover the story.
This event inspired him to create change. When he started working at "mainstream media" he tried his hardest to change the lack of coverage of tribal news.
The state of Idaho viewed salmon as a jurisdiction they had over all citizens. But, Shoshone Bannock's treaty said their tribe had the right to hunt and fish salmon.
The Shoshone Bannock are located in the central part of Idaho.
He says this court decision led to more salmon. "Two entities were working together to manage a scarce resource."
He was an editor at the Sho-Ban News for about five years. During the Carter administration, he was asked if he would work on policy issues for the interior department.
After, he went to Arizona to report on the election in Navajo. This led to an editor position at the "Navajo Times." While there, the paper transitioned to a daily paper where he encountered "logistical challenges."
They would deliver newspapers by airplane. He says it was expensive and the paper was losing a lot of money. He was at the paper for 5 years.
After he was let go for political reasons, he went to "The Arizona Republic" as an investigative reporter. Later, he covered the American West, which was everything from Louisiana to Alaska.
He went back to the "Navajo Times" to start a weekly paper. "It was great fun, but it wasn't sustainable."
His next job was at "The Salt Lake Tribune" as a senior editor. He was made publisher of "Moscow-Pullman Daily News."
He went to "The Seattle Times" as a columnist. He left after a strike at the paper in 1999.
He was the CEO of the Maynard Institute where his job was to raise money. He was there for two years.
The "Seattle Post-Intelligencer" offered him an editorial page. He stayed there until the paper ceased publication in 2006.
Trahant isn't a college graduate. He says he's made it in his career by "doing it."
He went to high school in California since his parents separated and his mother moved to Southern California. After high school, he moved back to Idaho.
He says he did do a couple of semesters at Idaho State University.
He got elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
He says he was really lucky that his predecessor at the "Seattle Post-Intelligencer" was active in issues.
The paper decided early on that they wanted diversity in bylines and op-eds. "You change what you measure."
They also made it so that bylines were half male and female. He said they also made sure to find a female cartoonist.
There wasn't backlash because he says they were the most liberal newspaper in town. "Readers would say we were too conservative."
He teaches at the University of North Dakota. He also blogs 2-3 times a week.
Kasier Family Foundation provided him a fellowship to start a business model. He says now there a few news organizations that are giving him checks.
He started his daily news rhymes in Seattle. There was also the virtual editorial board, where they used Twitter and other web applications to tell people in advance what editorials the paper was writing. This was to get readers involved early.
This was beneficial since they would make adjustments on editorials before they were published based on readers' comments.
One day he randomly wrote a rhyme on Twitter and it received a lot of retweets. So, he changed his Twitter handle and began tweeting rhymes daily based on all topics.
He tries to have fun with most of them. He says the most important thing about his rhymes is discipline. It's one of the first things he does in the morning.
A member from the Native American Journalists Association argued that it wasn't their job to make the white-owned media better. He said they should only serve tribal communities. Trahant was always on the other side of that argument.
"When we tell stories they haven't heard before, it kind of helps the American experience be better." But, he says that media today has become less diverse in people and way of thinking.
He says the country has gone through change so fast in two areas: diversity and aging. "We're not prepared for either one."
While teaching, he says the hardest thing is to get his students engaged. He keeps trying new methods. One was to teach media history as a ten thousand mark.
He says he's going to try a new experiment: how to cover Washington D.C. on native issues.
He talks about the incident with Standing Rock Indian Reservation and the power of social media.
He says only one Native American covered the story of Standing Rock.
He talks about a Canadian phenomenon that became a "huge social media connection for people."
Trahant plans to do a pilot TV show.
Tribal papers are struggling since resources are an issue. He says it really depends on the editor.
When he was in Seattle, he would contact a tribal newspaper to run their pieces in his paper. He says building an alliance between mainstream and tribal publications is a challenge today. "It's so easy to live in two separate worlds."
He says the public tends to look at the media as a national landscape. "It's really regional."
The story of Americas started earlier than we thought. "Somehow, we need to get to that bigger story that we're all apart of."
In all his job experiences, he says he's always tried to reach out and bring others along.
Trahant says this is an important moment. "As the media changes, it's important to be more thoughtful about how to include everybody."
He says we have to keep pressing and reaching out to people, especially those who don't care about the democratic process.
He says there are six Native Americans in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
He gives a short story on the founding of Harvard and Ben Franklin.