VNN Oklahoma and LHRI receive $12K for Allotment Era research and reporting

Collaborator: VNN Collaboration
Published: 05/23/2023, 8:39 PM
Edited: 05/23/2023, 8:42 PM

(MUSCOGEE NATION) Funding storytelling that has remained buried for more than 100 years is no easy feat, but through collaboration and innovation Tulsa’s Allotment Era stories are now on their way to a national audience.

Verified News Network (VNN) Oklahoma partnered with Lucinda Hickory Research Institute (LHRI) in August 2022 to produce the investigative news series “Stealing Tvlse”, spotlighting crimes committed against Mvskoke Creek people during the Allotment Era and how those crimes still impact Muscogee Creek people today. 

Earlier this year, VNN Oklahoma took part in the Builders + Backers Idea Accelerator in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with the goal of experimenting with different ways of showcasing local, untold stories to a national audience. The experiments led to the concept of syndicating grassroots news to national networks, of which Stealing Tvlse will be the first attempt.

As VNN Oklahoma participated in the Builders + Backers Winter 2023 cohort, the social news media network simultaneously took part in the Mass Communication Database Investigations Program Funded by the Gridiron Grant at the University of Central Oklahoma. By combining data tools learned in the UCO program and an end-of-program stipend with best practices learned during the Builders + Backers program, VNN Oklahoma was able to create a landing page showcasing Stealing Tvlse work and syndication opportunities for national outlets. 

“Allotment horror remains unsettled at Oaklawn Cemetery” is the latest in the Stealing Tvlse series. Find the full article and video here. 

While enrolled in both programs, VNN Director and Lead Journalist Brittany Harlow applied for the Data-Driven Reporting Project (DDRP). She was recently notified that VNN would be awarded a $12,000 grant for their news project “Investigating Allotment Era Crime across the US” to expand Stealing Tvlse coverage with LHRI. 

“Our main goal at VNN is to be a voice for oppressed and underrepresented people,” Harlow said. “It’s a tough gig. I applied for both Builders + Backers and the DDRP before and was denied for both. But I don’t give up. So I applied again. Because our communities deserve better than what they currently get through mainstream news and social media, and their stories deserve to be told.”

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The goals of VNN Oklahoma’s DDRP project are to travel to the National Archives in Fort Worth, the National Archives in Kansas City, and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania with LHRI, locate and make digital copies of research relating to Allotment Era injustice, and report their findings to the public.

LHRI Founder Tatianna Duncan said their organization is grateful for this opportunity with VNN and the Data-Driven Reporting Project, and for the help provided by Builders + Backers and other supporters of Allotment Era research thus far.

“We appreciate these much-needed resources to grow our research so that we may share the bigger picture of the injustices committed against our ancestors during the Allotment Era that still have repercussions today,” Duncan said. “We are a grassroots nonprofit charitable organization that is bringing a long, overdue awareness to an important history of our Mvskoke ancestors. We hope to bring them justice by being their voice and sharing their untold story.”

The DDRP is funded by the Google News Initiative, in partnership with Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Media, and Integrated Marketing Communications. 

VNN and LHRI are still looking for additional funding to support their upcoming DDRP project, as the funding covers 80 percent of the overall project cost. A total of $3,000 in additional support is needed to accept the full DDRP award. 

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Want to help VNN and LHRI tell more Allotment Era stories? Your donation to fund “Stealing Tvlse” is now tax-deductible. Click here to donate now. 


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